I have put a lot of sweet rolls on this blog, but have somehow never posted a recipe for classic cinnamon rolls. Consider that oversight rectified. And in time for holiday breakfast season, no less.Now, I know there are a gazillion cinnamon roll recipes out there. You probably have one you love. Why take a chance and switch it up? What makes these cinnamon rolls special?Well, I like to think *all* cinnamon rolls are special. I have never been disappointed to be offered a cinnamon roll in all my 33.5 years. Not once. Not even by the one I ate at a Roy Rogers in rural Connecticut at 8am that one time eleven years ago.
(Don’t ask me why I remember what I ordered at a Roy Rogers in rural Connecticut eleven years ago because I honestly don’t know. It’s just garbage taking up space in my brain and now it’s taking up space in yours.)But, um, back to these cinnamon rolls, which are infinitely better than anything you could possibly find at a fast food restaurant in New England. They’re made with the same dough I use for my kolaches. It’s enriched with eggs, whole milk, butter, and sour cream, so you know it’s good. It produces cinnamon rolls that are super soft, tender, and rich.This dough works best with an overnight chill in the fridge. Immediately after mixing, it’s very soft and sticky—very frustrating to roll. After a chill however, the butter has set up enough that the dough rolls without sticking, making it ideal for slathering with brown sugar-cinnamon filling. This overnight method is also the ideal way to get scratch-made cinnamon rolls on the breakfast table without having to get up and start baking when it’s still dark outside. Sleep > baking.Once the dough has been filled, roll it into a cylinder and slice it into pieces.Let them rise and bake them until they’re brown.And then slather them with a thin coat of cream cheese frosting. Or double the recipe for a thick coat. Whatever floats your cinnamon roll boat. <—hey, that rhymes.Anyway, you don’t need me to talk you into wanting fresh cinnamon rolls (unless you hate them like my sister…weirdo). Take some time to make a batch this holiday season, and you might be surprised to find they are as pleasurable to bake as they are to eat.
makes 12 rolls
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
The night before you want to eat kolaches, make the dough. Cut butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.
Add 1 cup of the flour, the cinnamon, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough will be very soft and sticky—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.
In the morning, make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mash together softened unsalted butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon, until it’s completely combined. Set aside.
Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, line the bottom with foil, and butter again. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14×17-inch rectangle. Use an offset icing spatula to spread filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Slice dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes, tenting the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let rolls cool 5-10 minutes.
Make the cream cheese frosting. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy and lighter in color. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated.
Drop spoonfuls of the frosting over the tops of the rolls and use an offset icing spatula to spread it into a thin layer over all the rolls.
Slice and serve.
Cinnamon Rolls are best the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours.