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The Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever!


I've been trying to perfect my cinnamon roll recipe for a long time now.  This recipe has been sitting in my drafts and been adjusted over the past few months as I've tried different recipes and techniques.  I'm a big fan of Cinnabon and wanted something sort of similar to that.  A soft, melt in your mouth texture, not thick and heavy, but not overly light and airy either, with a decent amount of sticky filling and topped with buttery cream cheese frosting that's been kissed with vanilla or maple.

One of the techniques that I read about recently that intrigued me was pouring a small amount of heavy cream over the rolls after the final rising and right before baking.  I was hesitant at first and honestly thought I had ruined the rolls the first time I did it and looked at them sitting in a small puddle before popping them in the oven, but oh my it made such a difference... making the cinnamon rolls more gooey and delicious than I could imagine.

A lot of people think anything with yeast that has to rise can be too fiddly to make from scratch because there is so much waiting time between rises, but anytime I do a yeast dough that requires an hour rise, I get up and throw the dough together first thing in the morning and then go shower and get ready for the day while it rises so it doesn't seem like a long wait at all!  Whenever you do it, the key is to just do other things while the dough is rising.  Effort wise, it's not a lot of actual work at all.  

With any recipe it's a good idea to read through the entire thing before starting, but I especially suggest it for this one!

Ingredients:

Dough:
  • 1 cup warm milk (about 115 degrees)
  • 2 1/2 tsps dry instant yeast (I like the quick rise)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Filling:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsps cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
Frosting
  • oz softened cream cheese 
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla or maple extract 
Instructions:
Prep:
  1. Melt the 1/3 cup butter in the dough ingredient list so it has time to cool a bit before adding it to the other ingredients.  (You don't want to kill your yeast.)  
  2. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator and put them in a bowl of hot water for two minutes to bring them to room temperature.  Once they are room temp, crack them in to a small bowl and lightly whisk.
  3. Microwave your milk for 90 seconds on high, (or adjust your time based on your microwave.  You want it around 115 degrees.)
For the dough:  
  1. Pour the warmed milk in to your mixer bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk and then add the the sugar, melted butter, eggs, and salt.  
  2. Add the flour and then whisk together until the ingredients are just combined.  
  3. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on low speed for 2 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.  
  4. Gently form the dough in to a ball in your hands, spray your bowl lightly with cooking spray and place the dough in it, cover with saran wrap and a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60 mins.
For the filling:  
  1. In a small, clean bowl combine the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon until it's a nice, smooth spread.  (It will take a couple of minutes to mash together with a spoon and will be very thick.)  Set aside.
Assembly:
  1. Grease a 10x15 baking dish.
  2. Once your dough has risen, sprinkle a pastry mat or your clean counter with flour. Turn out the dough on to the mat and roll the dough in to a rectangle, (about 12x16.)  
  3. Spread the cinnamon/sugar butter filling all over the rectangle to about 1/2 inch from the edge.  (The spread is thick so you will need to put dots of the filling all over the dough and then gently spread it together.  It will take a couple of minutes but is worth it because the filling will stay in the roll and not leak out everywhere!)  
  4. Once your filling is spread evenly, roll up the dough tightly but gently along the longer edge.  
  5. Cut into 12 slices and place the rolls in your greased 10x15 baking dish.  
  6. Cover the dish in saran wrap, drape a clean towel over the pan and let rise an additional 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
  8. Warm the heavy cream, (about 30 seconds on high in the microwave), and pour it gently over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  
  9. Let sit another 5 minutes so the cream has a chance to start soaking in to the rolls.  
  10. Bake at 375 for 22-25 minutes.  (The rolls should be golden brown.)

While the rolls are baking make your frosting.

For the frosting:  
  1. Whip together the softened cream cheese and butter in your mixer until smooth.  
  2. Add the powdered sugar and extract.  Beat together until combined.
Once your rolls are baked, remove from the oven and put the pan on a cooling rack.  Spread the frosting on immediately while the rolls are still hot.

*Note, if you want to make these ahead of time, make through step 5 of the Assembly instructions, (cut and place in the greased baking dish), then cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight, (no more than 12-14 hours.)  The next morning just take them out of the refrigerator and let them rise about an hour or so, then finish the steps starting with adding the heavy cream!


Like to see pictures?  Here are some at various stages:
    
cinnamon roll dough
The dough after the first rise


rolled cinnamon roll dough
Roll the dough in to a rectangle.


rolled cinnamon roll dough with filling
Spread the cinnamon/sugar butter all over the rectangle.


half rolled cinnamon rolls
Roll up the dough tightly but gently using the longer edge.


cut cinnamon rolls
Cut into 12 slices. 


uncooked cinnamon rolls
Place the rolls in a greased 10x15 pan.


cinnamon rolls covered in heavy cream
Pour the heavy cream on top of the rolls.


baked cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting
Bake then frost immediately after taking out of the oven.


Cinnamon Rolls





*Photos updated 6/2021

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