Easy Dessert Recipe ~ Pan Style Cinnamon Roll Cake

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!

I love Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ shares!


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Want nutritional information?

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


Adapted from Key Ingredient

21 Responses

  1. Tina says:

    For the cinnamon batter – did you mean 2 cups of flour not 2 Tbsp?

    • Karen Goodman says:

      No, it is just 2 tbsp of flour in the cinnamon batter. It really is more of a brown sugar/butter mixture with just a dab of flour. If you look at the picture that shows the globs of butter/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture before it was cut into the batter, you’ll see the texture.

      I’m glad you asked rather than just guessing. If you have any other questions, just let me know!

      • Danielle Rivera says:

        How much milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar do you combine for the icing??

        • Karen Goodman says:

          The amounts are listed in the ingredients as GLAZE. You use: 2 cup powdered sugar, 5 Tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla. It makes a LOT of icing, which is good if you like really sweet. It was too much for me so next time I make this I’ll cut it down to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and reduce the milk a bit.

  2. Christina says:

    This was an awesome Saturday morning breakfast! Very easy to make and made the house smell wonderful on a chilly Fall morning.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I’m having a hard time finding whole wheat four where I live. Can I just use all purpose flour?

    • Karen Goodman says:


      The first time I made it I used only all purpose flour, and that’s what was used in the original recipe that I started with. It turned out great. I just like using whole wheat flour when possible to make things healthier, and there was no difference in taste by using it. But by all means, use whatever flour you prefer in this recipe and it should be fine.

  4. Mahogani says:

    I just made this recipe and I have to agree that it is a lot easier than making cinnamon rolls. Thanks for making the recipe so easy to follow!!

  5. This looks so easy and so perfect for any morning breakfast. thank you for sharing it.

  6. Winnie says:

    It’s a fantastic cake
    I so wish I could have a fat slice now 🙂

  7. Connie says:

    Can u make this, put in refrigerator and bake it the next morning?

    • Karen Goodman says:

      I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure who it would impact the end result. If you try it, come back and let me know if it still turned out good.

  8. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I substituted the 3 cups of flour with 3.5 cups of gluten-free pastry flour and 2 1/4 tsp xantham gum- and oh my goodness, it was fantastic! It’s a fantastic recipe and it turned out incredible even being made gluten-free! Thank you!

  9. Kathy says:

    I made this last night to give as a secret santa gift for someone at work. I can tell you that the recipe was written perfectly and the cake looks soooooooooooooo good. It smelled fantastic as it was baking and cooling. I am very proud to give this away as a gift! Thank you!

    • Karen Goodman says:

      I feel so honored that you trusted my recipe enough to give it untasted to someone you know. I promise you it tastes as good as it smells!

  10. Made as written for the Sweet December event & I cannot say enough good things about this excellent recipe. It tastes divine & the aroma had me swooning. I baked it in my largest spring-form pan & did have to bake it an extra 10 min for it to test done. Your instincts about the sweet glaze were spot-on for us. I brushed it on w/my pastry brush & didn’t use all the glaze, but it was perfect for us (a less is better kind of thing). I’m cutting it in half so we can enjoy more of it & then take the other half to our New Year’s Eve party hosts for their breakfast the next morning. My bet is they will want your recipe for it, so thx for sharing it w/us. 🙂

    • Karen Goodman says:

      I’m so glad you liked this tasty dessert (or breakfast cake). I really need to make it again and get better pictures to post here since the cover picture simply doesn’t do it justice.

  11. Michele Collett says:

    This was fantastic. Delicious and east ti make will make it again

  12. lazyme says:

    This is delish! It was a huge hit at my house and will definitely be made again. Thanks for sharing, Karen.


  13. Baby Kato says:

    What a great recipe Karen. We really enjoyed this simple cake, such wonderful flavor, it was rich, moist and decadent. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely recipe. Made FYC tag game… bk

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