Cinnamon roll cake with icing and caption

Everyone seems to love cinnamon rolls.

I certainly do. But I don’t eat them very often because they are way too complicated for me to want to make them.

When I’m invited somewhere and need to bring a dessert, I look through my pan style cake list and pick out a cake or brownie dessert to take. Not only are pan style desserts easier to make than other desserts, but they travel well, serve a crowd, you can cut them in big pieces or small, and people are more likely to try a small square of a pan style dessert than a large slice of cake.


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Pan Style Cinnamon Roll Cake:



1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1½ cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla (see my recipe for homemade vanilla)
½ cup butter, melted


1 cup butter, soft (almost melted)
1 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon


1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla


In a large bowl, mix together the batter ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla. Then mix in the melted butter.

NOTE: The first time I made this I followed the original recipe and used all white flour. It was good that way too, but I prefer the healthier recipes that include whole wheat ingredients. 

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, and then pour the batter into the pan. Smooth it out so it is flat.

Using the same bowl (I like to minimize the mess when I can!), mix all of the cinnamon batter ingredients together (butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon).

You’ll probably want to use a beater to cream them together unless your butter is really soft. If your butter is partially melted, it will still work but you won’t get firm spoonfuls of the butter/sugar mixture like you see below. It will still taste good, but you’ll end up pouring a more liquid mixture on top of the batter.

Recipe - pan cinnamon rolls 1

Drop spoonfuls of the cinnamon batter onto the pan (or pour your liquidy butter mixture over the top), and then swirl with a knife.

Recipe - pan cinnamon rolls 2Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cakes like this are done when the edges are slightly pulling away at the sides and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed in the center. Or you can use a toothpick or cake tester in the center…it’s done when the toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe - pan cinnamon rolls done

While the cake is baking, make the glaze.

The picture below was from the first time I made this recipe. I followed the amounts in that recipe for the glaze, and it was much too sweet for me. The next time I made it, I modified the recipe and cut the glaze ingredients in half. It was still plenty sweet but the sugar glaze didn’t overwhelm the cake and the calories are also much lower.

The recipe listed here reflects the modified recipe with less glaze. If you love over the top sweetness, go ahead and double the glaze ingredients.

Recipe - pan cinnamon rolls with icing

To make the glaze, simply combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Then pour it over the cake while it is still warm.

Not only is this wonderful served right away, but it is great as leftovers too!

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think!

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Want nutritional information?

Click on the + sign in the recipe card below for complete nutritional information.


Adapted from Key Ingredient