It has been a super rainy winter, and that has made me crave cinnamon rolls. For some reason, any morning that I wake up to gray skies, snow, or rain, the first thing that pops into my head is warm, homemade pastries filled with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting. I guess that means cinnamon rolls are my ultimate comfort food. I haven’t had a go-to cinnamon roll recipe before, but I spent the winter doing a little research baking, and I think found a winner. After tinkering with the dough, filling, and frosting just a bit, I’ve come up with a cinnamon roll recipe that I think we’ll be enjoying for years to come, even on sunny days.
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 Tablespoon yeast
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 cup warm milk
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 cups flour
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- a splash of vanilla
- a pinch of salt
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- Combine the warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a glass measuring cup. The water should be the temperature of nice, warm bath. After 5-10 minutes, the mixture should be bubbly and much bigger in volume. If it isn't, try putting the measuring cup in a bowl of hot water. If after another 5-10 minutes, the yeast mixture still isn't growing, toss it out and start over.
- While the yeast mixture is growing, combine the sugar, warm milk, melted butter, salt, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture to bowl, and mix everything on low until combined. Add the flour, and mix with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise. Allow the dough to rise until double in size, an hour to an hour and a half.
- Punch down the dough, knead it lightly on a well-floured surface, then roll it into a large rectangle that measures at least 12" on the short side.
- Spread the ¼ cup softened butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough rectangle, keeping one of the shorted edges butter-free. Combine the ¾ cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread the cinnamon sugar over the butter on the dough.
- Roll the rectangle into a long cylinder. Start at the short end of the rectangle opposite from the butterless end, rolling tightly but not too tightly. Use a sharp knife to cut the cylinder into 12 equal slices. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper, and space the cinnamon rolls evenly on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. When the cinnamon rolls are done rising, remove the plastic wrap, and bake the cinnamon rolls for 15-20 minutes, until golden. When the cinnamon rolls are done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.
- While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, make the frosting. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the milk, and beat until smooth and soft. When the cinnamon rolls are cool, frost them, and eat immediately!
**When shaping your dough into a rectangle, you probably won't be able to get a nice, sharp rectangle just by rolling. When you've rolled the dough to about the right size, gently pick up two corners of the dough, and pull them into more of a rectangle shape. Repeat with the other two corners. You'll be surprised at how well it works!
**You don't need to use all of the frosting. You'll probably have some left over. Yay!
**If you want to make these the night before and have them fresh for breakfast or brunch the next morning, stick them in the fridge after placing them on the baking sheet and covering them with plastic wrap. Don't worry about the second rise until you wake up. Take them out of the fridge, place them in a warm spot for about an hour (until they have warmed up and risen noticeably), then bake according to the directions above.