I love the smell of fresh homemade cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. Wanna know what I like more? A big soft and flaky cinnamon roll slathered with cream cheese buttercream and a hot cup of coffee. Now let me tell ya what I like about this classic sweet dough cinnamon roll recipe. Not only is this recipe easy to make, but you can choose to either bake the rolls the same day you make the dough or refrigerate them overnight and bake them the next day.
The key ingredient in any yeast roll recipe is, of course, yeast.
Proofing the yeast: Meet your new best friend when it comes to making perfect cinnamon rolls. You need to be nice to active dry yeast. You see it’s a little temperamental. It doesn’t like to be cold or hot…just very warm. You make it happy and it will make you happy three times over, I promise! If you add yeast to a warm liquid and it doesn’t bubble and foam up, then it’s expired. You need to pitch it and start over with fresh yeast. Don’t be afraid of yeast. Really!! Just remember to check the expiration date and don’t use it if it’s expired or close to expiring, and make sure the liquid you add it to is the correct temperature. This is called proofing the yeast.
Now, just in case you’ve never made cinnamon rolls I’ll walk you through the steps…
Making the dough and the first rise:
Top Left – Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can use the paddle adjustment or use a hand mixer. You can also knead it by hand. This will take about 7 minutes by hand.
Top Right – Knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
Bottom Left – To see if the dough is ready, feel it with your fingers. It should be pliable and elastic like, but not sticky. If it’s sticky, add some flour, starting with just one tablespoon and checking the dough again. If the dough seems dry, add a tiny bit of water, starting with just one tablespoon and checking the dough again.
Bottom Right – Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and place it in a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and place the bowl in an oven that has been preheated to 165 to 200 degrees and turned off. Leave the door slightly ajar. Leave the covered bowl in the oven until the dough has almost doubled in size. This takes about 1 1/2 hours. If you’re allowing the dough to rise on a countertop, it may take up to 2 hours.
Making the rolls:
Top Left – Once the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a well-floured surface. Try to roll it out to about a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Brush softened butter all over the dough, stopping 1/2 inch from the edge all the way around.
Top Left – Sprinkle a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon all over the buttered area, (stopping 1/2 inch from the edge).
Bottom Left – Roll the dough into a tight roll. Once it’s rolled, use your hands to gently press on each side of the roll to form it into one even width. Brush some softened or melted butter along the edge of the exposed edge of dough. This will be your glue.
Bottom Right – Using your fingers, pinch the unattached edge of the dough together with the rolled dough, making a seam, then place the roll seam side down.
Cutting the rolls and the second rise:
- Cut the rolled dough into 12 even rolls, or if you want larger rolls, cut them into 10 even rolls. That’s what I did here. Use a sharp serrated knife or a piece of dental floss for smooth cuts. Place the rolls, cut side up, in a buttered dish.
- If baking rolls the same day, cover rolls with a towel and allow them to sit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until rolls are very puffy and close to doubled in size. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until rolls are golden brown on top. If rolls begin to brown too quickly on top, cover the rolls with a loose piece of foil.
- If baking rolls the following day, cover rolls tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The following day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow them to sit for at least one hour and bake.
The frosting is easy peasy!! A mixture of milk, butter, cream cheese, vanilla and a little bit of half & half.
These would be great rolls to make for Christmas morning for the family. All you do the day before is make the dough, let it rise once, shape and cut into rolls and refrigerate. The next morning you just set them out at room temperature for one hour and bake. Your family will wake up to the smell of a wonderful cinnamon aroma coming from the kitchen.Print
- 1 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1 packet active dry yeast, .25 ounce
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons melted butter (make sure it’s not hot)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Vegetable oil for oiling bowl.
- Butter for greasing baking dish
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to spreading consistency
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing:
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons real butter, softened
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk or half & half
- Make sure milk is very warm, but not hot. Add the yeast to the milk and using a spoon, gently mix the yeast into the milk, making sure all of the yeast is wet. Set aside
- Add the sugar, melted butter and salt to the large bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix to combine. Add the yeast/milk mixture and mix on medium-low speed just to combine. Add the eggs and mix on medium speed until eggs are incorporated. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Note: It’s hard to incorporate the eggs with the dough attachment. That’s why I use both the paddle and the dough hook attachments in this recipe.
- Add the flour and turn mixer on low until the flour is all moist. Turn mixer to medium and mix until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, yet sticks to the bottom. This will take about four minutes. The dough should be very elastic if you pull it with your fingers but not sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl, turning dough over once. Cover with a towel and place in an oven tht has been preheated to 165 degrees and turned off. Leave the door ajar. You can also opt to cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm area in your kitchen, but make sure it’s free of any drafts. Allow dough to rise until it’s almost doubled in size. This can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how warm the environment is.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle.
- Liberally butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by13-inch baking dish.
- Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
- Brush the dough with the softened butter, stopping 1/2 inch from the edges. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the buttered part of the dough.
- Starting with the edge of the long side nearest you, gently roll the dough up as tightly as possible. When finished rolling, brush some softened butter along the very edge of the unrolled edge of dough. This will be your glue for seaming the dough together. Using your fingertips, go along the seam, pinching it together with your fingers.to seal the dough. Roll the cylinder of dough over, so the seam is on the underneath side. Using your hands, firm up the dough, making it even in width from one end to the other. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into 10 even rolls, about 1 3/4 inches each in thickness. You can also use dental floss to cut the rolls.
- Arrange rolls in buttered baking dish, cut side up. Bake the same day or hold until the next day for baking.
a. Same day baking: If you want to bake rolls the same day, cover them with plastic wrap and allow them to sit in a warm environment until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
b. Next day baking: If you want to bake rolls the next day, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to sit for 1 hour at room temperature before baking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake the rolls until they are golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. Allow rolls to cool slightly while making the icing. Rolls should be warm but not hot when spreading the icing on them.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing:
Unbaked – Follow recipe through step 5a, but only bake rolls for 10 minutes and remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool completely, then wrap them very tightly with and freeze them for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, allow rolls to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and finish baking the rolls.
Baked – I don’t suggest freezing rolls with frosting. Tightly wrap rolls and freeze unfrosted for up to 3 months.
I used active dry yeast in this recipe. Active dry yeast has to be proofed before using in a recipe. If you use instant or rapid rise yeast, they do not have to be proofed in warm water or milk first. They can both be added directly to the other ingredients.
Yield depends on the size you want your rolls to be. You can make 12 normal size rolls or 10 larger ones like I did here.
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