Use the basic sweet yeast dough recipe to make these tried and true classic cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.
I teased you with cinnamon rolls last week when I posted my master recipe for basic sweet yeast dough. Then I went to L.A. to see my mom and my sister and totally neglected you and didn’t live up to my promise of posting them. I hope you’ll forgive me! Because I am giving you cinnamon rolls today and then a few other great recipes using this dough coming up! Pinky promise. I won’t let you down this time.
If you missed last week’s tutorial about how to make this basic sweet yeast dough, head on over to that post and check it out. That dough is a master recipe to use for all kinds of things. These cinnamon rolls, raised doughnuts, liege waffles, soft dinner rolls, monkey bread… and the list goes on and on.
The dough is put together in 4 easy steps: Rehydrate the yeast, Mix together the fat and liquids, Add the yeast mixture & flour and knead, and ferment! After all this is done and the dough has fermented, you are only a few more steps away from fresh, hot, homemade classic cinnamon rolls!
The procedure is not very precise after this point. The dough is rolled out to a large rectangle. If you prefer rolls with lots of layers and small swirls, roll it out out fairly thin. If you like just a couple of swirls and thicker layers, keep the dough fairly thick. Then my measurements for the filling are as follows: Slather on lots of melted butter, spread out a ton of brown sugar, and top with heaps of cinnamon. There really isn’t an accurate amount of filling. Like more dough and less sugar and cinnamon?! Well then you’re nuts, but go ahead and use less sugar and cinnamon. I will give you a guideline of filling measurements below, but go ahead and use as much or as little as you like. But really, don’t skimp on the filling.
Dough dough and filling are then rolled into a big tube and cut into individual rolls. You want to roll tightly as you are doing this, pinching with your fingers as you go. You can then slice the rolls as thick or thin as you want. I usually cut the tube in half, then each half in half again. Then decide how many rolls I think I can get out of each. It helps with consistency of size. At this point, the rolls need to proof (rise) again for about 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes or so of proofing is a good time to preheat the oven. If you are making these a day ahead of time, go ahead and proof them for the 40 minutes and then place some plastic wrap over them and place them in the refrigerator. The next day, take the rolls out about 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off so the yeast can wake back up and rise in the oven.
Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite baked goods to do variations on. One of the simplest variations is to brown the butter for the filling instead of just melting it. As brown butter does with most baked goods, it takes these babies to a whole new level. In the summer and spring these Rosemary Lemon Cinnamon Rolls are a quite bright and cheerful variation both in flavor and appearance. Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect cliche for the fall. Or how about a Cinnamon Roll Wreath for the holidays? I also encourage you to try cinnamon rolls with a bowl of chili. I’ve talked about this before. Because I’m passionate about this combination. It is a midwestern tradition to eat a cinnamon roll with your bowl of chili and it is a tradition because it is a perfect pair. Sadly, it is getting a little too warm for me to be craving chili. So a cinnamon roll on it’s own will have to do!
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz package or 2 1/4 tsp)
- 6 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups plus 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 TBSP ground cinnamon
- 6 oz cream cheese, room temp
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Warm the milk to 105-110ºF. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let it sit until it begins to get foamy. About 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg.
- Fit the mixing bowl onto the mixer with the dough hook. With the mixer on the lowest setting, pour in the milk/yeast mixture and the flour. Increase speed to medium and let the dough knead for about 5 minutes until it forms a soft sticky dough. The mixture will seem quite wet at first, but will form a smooth soft dough once kneaded in the mixer for the full time. If the mixture is too wet after kneading, add more flour 1 TBSP at a time until a soft but sticky dough forms.
- Place the dough in a clean bowl with a towel or loose plastic wrap over it and allow to rise to double in size. About 1 1/2 hours.
- Gently degas the dough by pressing the middle and bringing the sides up. Lightly flour a clean work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out to a large rectangle. If the dough is snapping back and difficult to work with, place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and let it rest for 5-10 minutes until it is easier to roll out.
- Using clean hands, spread the melted butter out evenly over all of the dough. Sprinkle on as much brown sugar and cinnamon as desired and use your hands to spread it out and mix it with the butter. With clean dry hands, roll the dough tightly into a large tube starting at the wide side. Pinch the dough shut to seal. Cut into individual rolls and place on a baking sheet or in a greased pie plate.
- Allow the rolls to rise for about 40 minutes. If you are making the dough a day ahead, cover the rolls in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to baking the next day. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bake the rolls at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting by combining all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), and mix until incorporated. Allow the rolls to cool slightly before frosting.