Cinnamon rolls have never been kosher for Passover, until now with Cinnamon Roll Matzah brei! Take classic matzah brei pancakes of eggs and matzah, top with cinnamon and brown sugar, and a generous swirl of cream cheese icing to create your new favorite Pesach sweet breakfast!
During the cooking demos and Jewish food talks I do around the world (you too can book me!), I’m often asked hard-hitting questions: Most nostalgic Passover dessert? Those jelly candies. (IYKYK.) Gefilte fish, yay or nay? Yay! The secret for perfect floater matzah balls? Baking powder and seltzer; do not overwork the balls.
Once, when I waxed poetic over my bourbon and coffee braised brisket, a take on my Bubbe’s classic sweet and tangy brisket, a horrified attendee exclaimed that that was not how her mother made brisket and it was simply not correct.
When I inquired as to what her recipe entailed, she told me about the onion soup mix and cans of soda. I asked if she thought that was how our ancestors have been making brisket for thousands of years, and she quieted down a bit. Sometimes what we think of as long-standing traditions are actually more modern than we realize. What seems correct and “the way it’s always been done,” is just a part of our recent memory.
Food is constantly evolving. For generations, we’ve worked with what’s available in a style that resonates with us. I learned from a Mexican Jewish friend to add chilies to matzah ball soup (a delicious addition). And cream cheese was added to rugelach when it became a more popular ingredient in the early 1900’s. Israeli schnitzel is made with chicken instead of veal because chicken was more accessible. Our Bubbes used the newly-available convenience food of their time (hence the onion soup mix and soda). Even cultural traditions that we think of as ancient aren’t always. Did you know the hora wasn’t invented until the 1920s?! How did people have weddings without them!
I love adapting traditions in a way that feels authentic to me, and often encourage others to do the same. For some, this means making Bubbe’s classic chopped liver, alongside a boozy red wine Passover brownie for dessert. Or using an heirloom seder plate with a cool tie-dye matzah cover to create a celebration that is uniquely you.
Even though I love the taste of matzah, I rarely eat it except during Passover. That is what makes it special. A schmear of butter, schmaltz or cream cheese makes the best snack.
My Bubbe always made her sweet matzah brei for breakfast at least once during the festival. Matzah and eggs fried in butter to perfection, topped with a bit of sugar.
My Cinnamon Roll Matzah Brei is a riff on this favorite Passover breakfast. Sweet matzah pancakes are topped with a generous spoonful of cinnamon roll topping and a swirl of cream cheese frosting — served with extra cream cheese frosting on the side, because it’s just better that way. I hope I can make these for my Bubbe this year. I know that is a twist on tradition she will love.