Giada's citrus-packed Italian cinnamon rolls are perfect for spring brunch

Come for the soft fluffy layers, stay for the delicious icing

Published March 30, 2022 3:00PM (EDT)

Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

If there's one thing Giada De Laurentiis knows how to do, it's introducing an Italian version of just about every dish you could ever want. These Italian cinnamon rolls are a bright take on Pane di Pasqua, or Italian easter bread, and combine sweetness with a little bit of spice and citrus. You'll need to set some time and elbow grease aside to make these a success, but your patience will be rewarded with soft fluffy layers covered in delicious icing.

To start, you'll need to sprinkle your active dry yeast over some warm water. Once it becomes creamy and bubbly, you can start prepping your other ingredients.

Related: How to make cinnamon rolls that stay pillowy-soft for days

In an electric mixer bowl, add your dry ingredients. This includes flour, anise seeds, salt and sugar. Then, in a separate bowl, add your wet ingredients: you'll whisk your egg yolks, melted butter, vanilla and heavy cream together.


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 Next will come the unification of your elements: add the wet ingredients to your dry ingredients, as well as your active yeast mixture. Combine the three with a rubber spatula, until you're left with a rough dough. Using the dough hook attachment from the electric mixer, knead this for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is pliable and stretchy, but still has a soft and silky texture. You'll need to cover it with plastic wrap and let the dough double in size for about an hour.

Next comes the filling for assembly. Combine your brown sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, anise and cinnamon into a paste.

Dust your work surface with some flour to prevent sticking, and get ready to roll. Pour the rested dough out, sprinkling more flour on top, and gently roll into the rectangular shape of your desired baking sheet, with about ⅓ inch of thickness. 

Once your dough is rolled, wet the edges with your softened butter, and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly. Then, starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough away from yourself, and seal the farthest edge with a bit of water to seal. You should be left with a log that will need to be sliced into 12 2-inch rolls.

Butter your glass baking dish, and pop your rolls in, allowing them to rest for about 30 minutes, or until they have doubled in size. While this is happening, heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Bake the rolls for about 35 minutes until they are puffed, flaky, and golden brown. You'll need to let them cool a bit before preparing the finishing touch, aka your glaze.

For the glaze, you'll combine your powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth. Then serve over your glorious, still warm rolls, and enjoy the culmination of culture, pastry, and easter all in one delicious bite! For measurements and the full recipe, click here.

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By Manuela Lopez Restrepo

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Cinnamon Rolls Giada De Laurentiis Recipe