National Day Cinnamon Roll Cake

As I said in last year’s National Day Basic Bakes post (red velvet cupcakes festooned with stars), I would never think of myself as a patriotic Singaporean. Like most Singaporeans, I can be extremely critical about my own country. (But perhaps that’s a sign of love?)

Yet, when August 9 draws near, I find myself thinking about the good things about being born here. It’s safe and stable. We’re, for the most part, comfortable. A Singaporean citizenship is envied by many beyond our shores, and I have it simply by being born here. There is a lot to be thankful for.

Cinnamon Roll Cake

I love my cakes to serve many purposes. This cinnamon roll cake is obviously decorated for National Day. I took inspiration from the contrails left behind by the fighter jets performing their in-flight formations during the Parade.

But it’s also a cake for the August babies among my group of friends. It’s a cake made out of cinnamon rolls simply because they’re a favourite of one of them.

I had this idea for a cake made out of cinnamon rolls at the beginning of 2013. In fact, I wrote the idea down so that I’d make it for the friend who loves cinnamon rolls.

But then, the lads at Sorted beat me to the punch. Here’s the original Sorted recipe. Although, I have to say, the recipe is not the easiest to follow. It’s missing a few important details like how large to roll out the dough to, and what size pan to use for the rolls. And I think 500g of flour would be about 4 cups, not 2. (Unless “US cups” are twice as large as regular cups?)

Also, from my past experiences making cinnamon rolls, I found the Sorted recipe called for the cake to be baked in an oven that’s too hot and far too short a time to allow it to cook thoroughly. So, of course, I’ve made my own changes to the recipe.



For the dough:

75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
75g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Zest from half an orange
2 tsp (about 6g) dry yeast
500g all-purpose flour

For the filling:

50g butter, melted and cooled
135g dark brown sugar
1½ tbsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt


Step 1: Mix all the dough ingredients together in a bowl. You can knead the dough by hand or use a mixer with a dough hook. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and rest in the refrigerator overnight. The yeast will still inflate the dough, but because of the lower temperature, it’ll be much slower. This slow rise improves the flavour and texture of the roll, but if you don’t have time, just let the dough rise for 2 hours in a warm place until doubled in size.)

Step 2: The next day, remove the bowl and allow the dough to come to room temperature. Lightly dust your work surface and roll out the dough to a rectangle that’s about 35 cm by 50 cm.

Brush the butter all over the dough, leaving a 1-cm border unbuttered. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and salt together, and sprinkle evenly over the buttered area of the dough.

Dough sugar, & cinnamon

At the shorter edge, slowly begin rolling the dough up, keeping the roll as tight as you can. When you reach the end, pinch the edges shut. Turn the dough tube over, seam-side down, and rock it back and forth to close the seam.

Step 3: Grease and line one 9-inch round cake tin. With a sharp knife, cut the very ends off the dough tube and discard them. (They won’t have any sugar in them anyway.) Split the tube into half, then split each half into half. Then cut each portion into three. You should have 12 rolls (2 x 2 x 3). Arrange the rolls in your cake tin. It’ll be a tight fit. (If you want the surface of your cake to be perfectly flat, you’ll need a larger tin. For me, I like the interesting shapes the rolls create when they try to expand in a confined space.)

Step 4: Allow the rolls to rise for an hour. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Then, bake the cake for 30 minutes. Cool, remove from the tin and decorate.

Finished cake

To decorate the cake, I just made a simple buttercream icing (ratio 100g shortening to 200g icing sugar), although a little runnier than usual. I scooped out a small portion and dyed that red. After spreading the white icing on half the cake (so I don’t cover up all the rolls), I piped parallel red lines on to the icing. I then dragged a toothpick through the icing to create this feathering effect, and sprinkled on some sugar stars.

Happy Birthday, Sg!

And, topped it all off with a “Happy Birthday” sign, of course.


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