The BEST Cinnamon Rolls

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Ooey gooey melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls. I only made these on Saturdays at the shop, and customers would show up right as the doors opened to get them fresh out of the oven.  They are a labor of love, and definitely more time consuming than any other recipe I’ve posted thus far. But, don’t let that deter you! And PLEASE don’t be frightened of yeast.

So many people are scared to bake anything that calls for yeast. There are two things to keep in mind when baking with yeast. First, make sure your yeast has not expired. If it’s expired or has been exposed to too much heat, it won’t be able to do its job. When in doubt, throw it out. Second, when adding liquid to your yeast, it MUST be at the right temperature. Too hot and it will destroy the yeast. Too cool and it won’t activate. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the liquid. I have been using this Therma Pro thermometer for over 10 years and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Frosted cinnamon rolls

All of the recipes you’ll find for cinnamon rolls start with the same ingredients: milk, yeast, sugar, flour, butter and eggs. However, the mixing methods will differ slightly. I like this recipe because it only requires the dough to rise once. After rolling, filling and cutting, the rolls can be baked immediately. No need to rise again.

The filling is something that has taken me years to perfect. I love Cinnabon cinnamon rolls because of that gooey cinnamon sugar filling. I tried just about every cinnamon roll filling I could find, but nothing compared to that sticky filling that I craved. Until! I came upon this method by accident. I was making a syrup to add to hot apple cider and the consistency that it created seemed to mimic that of Cinnabon. Eureka!

I’ve been working on getting that consistency perfect for my cinnamon rolls for over 2 years now and I’ve finally done it. I’m so excited to share these with you!!!

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CINNAMON ROLLS

I like to use Korintje cinnamon in my cinnamon rolls. It’s a cinnamon from Indonesia that has a very strong but smooth taste. I buy most of my spices, including Korintje Cinnamon, from Penzey’s Spices. I promise you will notice a difference!

Heat the whole milk to the right temperature. Between 105°F and 110°F is the sweet spot. Lower than that and the yeast will remain dormant. Higher than that and it could “kill” the yeast.

After adding the active dry yeast to the warm milk, add the sugar. Yeast feeds on sugar so this speeds up the activation process. I also add a little of the flour at that step because it makes it easier to tell if your yeast is working. Just give it a little stir and let it set for 10-30 minutes. You should see bubbles forming at the surface. If you don’t, your yeast is bad and you’ll need to throw it out and start over with new yeast.

Once you see the bubbles, you’re ready to rock and roll! Using your stand mixer with the dough hook, start mixing the yeast mixture at low speed. Slowly pour in the melted butter (make sure it’s not scorching hot), the egg and yolk, the salt and remaining flour.

Use the dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Don’t rush this step! All doughs need to be kneaded to form gluten. Then, after this step, the dough needs to rest. If you tried rolling it out at this step, it would be like trying to roll out a rubberband. Relaxing the dough reduces the elasticity, making it possible to roll and stretch.

The relaxation process should be nice and warm and cozy for the dough. Think of this as a spa day for your cinnamon roll dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a dry towel, and place it in a warm, dry area. Your kitchen on a regular day should be fine. However, if your kitchen tends to be on the cooler side, I have a trick for you! Turn the oven on 350° for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off and set the bowl on top of the stove. If you have a wall oven, do the same thing and then set the bowl on a table or counter closest to the oven.

HOW TO MAKE THE OOEY GOOEY CINNAMON FILLING

The best part of a cinnamon roll is a good filling. Most recipes call for you to spread butter on the dough and top with brown sugar and cinnamon. There’s nothing wrong with this technique, and I will do that if I’m in a hurry. But, there IS a better way! And the good news is, you can prpepare this up to 5 days before using. In fact, it needs to be made in advance to let the butter cool and set up so that it’s a spreadable consistency.

To make the filling, add the water, brown sugar and cinnamon to a small sauce pan and stir over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to boil until the mixture is a thick gooey consistency

At this point, you’re ready to add the butter.

Once it is thick (see video), it’s time to add the butter. Take off the heat and stir in the butter until completely melted. Let the syrup cool and then add to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 5 days.

ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH

I like my cinnamon rolls to be gooey and chewy, so I roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. If you like them soft and fluffy, you can roll to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Now it’s time for the good part! Spread the cinnamon butter over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides so the filling doesn’t all ooze out. I use a mini offset spatula like this one to spread so that I don’t rip the dough.

rolling cinnamon roll dough

Starting at the long end closest to you, tightly roll the dough until you reach the other side. Gently pinch the seems together and tuck under. Using nylon fishing line, slide the line under the dough, pull both ends up and across in opposite directions, causing the fishing line to slice through the dough. You should get 9 cinnamon rolls. Alternately, you can use unwaxed dental floss or a sharply serrated knife.

Place rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a 9×9 square pan. The rolls should have about an inch gap between them.

cinnamon rolls
Rolls in the shape of a 6 for my daughter’s birthday. They expanded in the fridge overnight so make sure you leave an inch between each roll.

BUNS IN THE OVEN

It’s finally time to bake these babies! They do not need to rise again after slicing. Place them into a preheated 375° oven and bake for 16-20 minutes depending on your preference. As I said before, I like ooey gooey rolls so I pull them out after 16 minutes so they’re a little under baked in the center.

If you refrigerated the rolls overnight, take the rolls out when you start the oven. They will need to bake for about 2-3 minutes longer than if they weren’t refrigerated.

Because the filling is so loose, some will spill out of the rolls and bubble up while baking. If you’re baking on a flat baking sheet, place a larger sheet on the rack below to catch any that spills over.

cinnamon rolls

FROSTING THE CINNAMON ROLLS

While the cinnamon rolls are in the oven, make the cream cheese frosting. Place the softened butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer, or you can use a hand mixer. Beat on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Then turn the mixer up to high speed and mix for 3-4 minutes until smooth and no lumps remain.

Sometimes I like to add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to my cream cheese frosting to boost up that cinnamon flavor.

cinnamon rolls

Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting onto the top of the rolls while still warm. I usually let the rolls cool for about 3-5 minutes before frosting. Let the frosting melt down into the cracks. Let them set for a few more minutes and then add additional frosting.

If you make these rolls, let us know in the comments! Can’t wait to hear from you.

Happy Baking!

XOXOXO Amanda

The BEST Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe by Amanda Innes-ShareefCourse: Baking, BreakfastDifficulty: Medium
Servings

9

servings
Prep time

2

hours 
Cooking time

20

minutes
Calories

647

kcal

Ingredients

  • Active dry yeast 1 3/4 tsp

  • Milk 180g
    (3/4 cup)

  • Sugar 75g
    (1/3 cup)

  • Unsalted butter, melted and cooled 57g
    (1/4 cup)

  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

  • Salt 3/4 tsp

  • All Purpose Flour 450g
    (3 cups)

Directions

  • In the microwave, heat the milk to 105°-110°
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add yeast, warmed milk, sugar and 75g (1/2 cup) of flour. Stir slightly and set aside, covered with a dry towel. Let rest for 10-30 minutes until mixture is bubbly.
  • Put the bowl on the mixer and using the dough hook, begin mixing on low speed. Add melted butter, eggs and salt.
  • Add flour. Once the dough comes together, turn up to medium speed and mix for 5 minutes.
  • Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a dry towel. Keep in a warm, dry environment (see notes above in post). Let rest for an hour until it doubles in size.
  • Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet or square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Roll out dough into a rectangle 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  • Spread cinnamon filling over dough (recipe follows) leaving an inch on all sides.
  • Starting with the long end closest to you, roll the dough tightly. Pinch the end seem and tuck under.
  • Using nylon fishing line, or unscented dental floss, cut the dough into 9 equal rolls. Place onto prepared pan. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the center of the rolls is baked through.
  • Cool for 3-5 minutes and top with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows).

Notes

  • This is a very loose dough, and it can be a little tricky to get the dough rolled tight. You can use bread flour to make a stiffer dough that is a little easier to work with. However, the rolls won’t be as soft and will need to be eaten the same day.

cinnamon filling Directions

  • In a small saucepan, add 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons cinnamon.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to cook until the mixture is a thick syrup. See video above.
  • Remove from heat and add 90g (6 1/2 Tbsp) of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and completely mixed in.
  • Cool. Add to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 5 days.

cream cheese frosting Directions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, add 113g (1/2 cup) softened butter and 4 oz. softened cream cheese. Beat on high speed until smooth.
  • Add 125g powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional). Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Use a mini offset spatula to spread most of the frosting over warm cinnamon rolls. Let the rolls cool for another 5 minutes and add the rest of the frosting or serve on the side.

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