Baked With Love
Dallas family turns grandmother's cinnamon roll recipe into delicious business
Amy Collins knew a good thing when she tasted one. Her grandmother, Rochelle — known as “RoRo” to the grandkids — baked dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls in her Garland kitchen, which she sold at church and school fundraisers. The cinnamon rolls had also become a Christmastime tradition in their family.
“I wanted to find a way to always have her cinnamon rolls around for Christmas for my kids and my grandkids,” says Collins, 29, who lives in East Dallas. To do that, she enlisted her husband, Lauren, to help her start a business using her grandmother’s recipes — which they naturally called RoRo’s Baking Company.
Collins, a former nurse at Baylor, says “they dove right in,” learning everything they could about food production. They worked on a business plan for six months and started selling their rolls in April 2011 at Celebration Market and other local farmers markets. By August of that year, they were in Central Market.
There are three year-round products: crescent-shaped Dinn-A-Rolls, Cinn-A-Rolls, and pigs in a blanket. They also make two seasonal items: Hatch chile cheese rolls, available for the Hatch Chile Festival coming up at Central Market, and a cranberry and walnut cinnamon roll for the holidays.
Central Market carries the whole assortment; Whole Foods carries the Dinn-A-Rolls and Cinn-A-Rolls. You can also buy through Artizone and on RoRo’s website. The rolls come nine to pan; the Cinn-A-Rolls sell for about $10, and the Dinn-A-Rolls about $7. The pigs in a blanket are sold on Artizone for $8.95.
Everything is made by hand in small batches, in a commercial kitchen in Lakewood. RoRo still helps, but the baking is done primarily by a team of five, who churn out the rolls fully baked, then frozen, so all that customers have to do is heat.
“It’s a super labor-intensive product,” Collins says. “We make a yeast-based dough, and it has to rise two times in the process. It is a full seven- to eight-hour day to make the batches.”
Her favorite is the incomparable Cinn-A-Roll, which has a special glaze finish instead of a customary thick icing. It is glazed immediately after baking so the glaze sinks right down into the roll, making it super light and fluffy.
“They are soft, gooey and melt in your mouth — the flavor is just really delicious in combination with the glaze we put on them,” Collins says. “They aren’t huge; you can have one or two. But I think our recipe is really unique, and a lot of people tell us it doesn’t really taste like other cinnamon rolls.”
Collins admits that starting the business from scratch with little experience was not easy. But having a product people loved made the process easier. “It tastes delicious, and it’s not a hard sell,” she says. “It really helps to have a product that connects to people.”
RoRo’s more than doubled sales last year, and Collins expects to do the same this year. “Every year we are seeing more and more growth,” she says.
As for the current gluten-free craze, Collins says they don’t make a GF product because the rolls are “a treat.”
“I’m not promoting it to be something you eat every day of the week, but there are things that people want to eat on special days to celebrate. Like a holiday — you can treat yourself on those days.”
The holidays are “insane,” she says, and every year they get better at handling the demand. People snatch up the dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls for big gatherings during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas — probably to create their own family traditions.