Scratch dutch oven cinnamon rolls may very well be overkill for a camping trip, but when you need to show off your dutch oven prowess, they are a good option. They also taste a LOT better than a can of cinnamon rolls from the grocery store (what’s in those anyway?).
They aren’t for the faint of heart, but with some planning before you leave your house, they’re relatively easy to manage.
We’ve rated this recipe as CHALLENGING due to the amount of multitasking, the steps required, and the level of planning to execute each step properly.
The key for this recipe, as with any camp cooking, is ‘mise en place’ (a French culinary term for “everything in its place”). Be sure that you’ve prepared everything you can at home before you leave on your camping trip.
Before you start cooking at the campsite, make sure all of your ingredients are laid out on your workspace in a way that is easy to find it. I like to lay it all out in the order than I’m going to use it.
I go the extra step to label all the containers and bags of ingredients so that there is no confusion. I usually have more than one meal planned and the containers getting jumbled up could throw me way off course.
If you’ve done your mise en place correctly, it should just be a matter of leisurely working your way through the steps in the recipe. If you haven’t, you may find yourself scrambling to try to get it done, or even forgetting steps or ingredients.
Tips For Your Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls
You can probably get away with using a 12-inch deep dutch oven (the tops won’t brown well though), but you can’t get away without the cake pan. If you don’t use it, your cinnamon rolls will open up and all the filling will drain out into the bottom of your dutch oven. The cake pan holds everything together.
You may or may not be able to make these in a 10-inch dutch oven without the cake pan. I didn’t try. I like the easy clean up the cake pan offers and my 12-inch dutch ovens are my work horses. At least one of them almost always goes camping with me. Why bring two dutch ovens if I don’t have to?
Don’t Break Your Butter
Now, lets talk about butter. Butter is where people generally slip up when baking. You need your butter at room temperature for this recipe. If you don’t plan ahead and let your butter naturally heat up, you will be tempted to heat it on your camp stove or charcoal.
Don’t do it.
You will break the butter. This means that at about 158 degrees, the butter will break down and the solids will separate from the fat. Cooling it back down won’t help you. It will stay broken.
Once it’s in this liquid state, you won’t be able to roll up your cinnamon rolls without the filling squirting out the ends.
Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls
- Camp stove (or other heat-source for warming milk. I just put a pan over my charcoal chimney for a minute or so.)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. Morton's Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 1/2 tbs. unsalted butter – softened to room temperature
- 1 lg. egg
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter – softened to room temperature
- 1 tbs. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 3 oz. cream cheese – softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter – softened to room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. Morton's Kosher Salt
- extra butter, lard, or cooking spray for greasing your dutch oven and mixing bowl.
- extra flour for dusting your work area and rolling pin.
Before You Leave Home
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the confectioner's sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt until well combined (a hand or stand mixer helps with this). Add to a resealable container and refrigerate.
- For the rolls, combine the flour, granulated sugar, and salt and whisk well. Add to a large zip-top bag.
- Add yeast to a small zip-top bag and refrigerate.
At Your Campsite
- Pull all of your ingredients out of your ice chest at least a couple of hours before you're ready to cook so that they can warm to room temperature. Your butter needs to be at room temperature and heating it over your camp stove or fire will cause it to break (see note in post).
- In a sauce pan over your fire or cook stove, heat the milk to about 110 degrees. Add the yeast and mix together well. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Add milk/yeast, flour/sugar/salt package, 2 1/2 tbs. butter, and egg. Mix with a spoon until well combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, dust your hands lightly with flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. About 5-6 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a greased mixing bowl. Cover tightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it has risen slightly. About 1 hour (as much as 15 minutes less if it is warm outside).
- While you are waiting for your dough to rise, add together all of the ingredients for the filling, mix very well, and set aside.
- Once your dough has risen, on a lightly floured surface (I find my 6 ft. plastic folding table works very well for this) roll out the dough into a 14 x 8-inch rectangle. Evenly spread the filling mixture on top.
- Roll the dough up tightly. Cut into approximately 12-13 even rolls and arrange in the bottom of your greased cake pan. Cover with the lid and let rise an additional 45 minutes.
- About ten minutes before the end of the rising time, prepare enough charcoal to cook at 350 degrees (about 6 charcoal briquettes underneath and 18 on top for a 12-inch dutch oven.)
- When the rolls have risen and are nearly doubled, cook about 25 minutes until they are browned on top. Be certain to rotate your dutch oven and separately your lid a quarter turn every five minutes or so to prevent hot-spots.
- Remove your cinnamon rolls from your dutch oven, marvel at how awesome you are, then spread the icing mix over the top.