Cinnamon roll is a Swedish roll filled with cinnamon and nutmeg flavored cream, topped with cream cheese frosting.
2 cups whole milk, warm to the touch
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1. Use warm milk when making the dough. But make sure it isn’t too hot.
The milk has to be warm enough to get the yeast working, but not too hot that it will kill it. The perfect temperature for active dry yeast to bloom and not die is between 100-110˚F (37-43˚C). If you don’t own a food thermometer, just make sure the liquid is barely warm to the touch (think of it this way: 100-110˚F is very close to your normal body temperature, so it shouldn’t feel hot.)
2. And store the dough at a warm temperature while it rests and expands.
You want to yeast to continue growing and cold temperatures can slow it down. So place your milk-mixture in the warmest spot in your kitchen while it’s blooming. And later, do the same thing with the dough when it’s proofing (if you notice the dough isn’t rising, the answer is often to move it to a warmer place.)
3. Use very softened butter for the filling.
Softened butter will help the filling become homogenous and easy to spread, so make sure to leave your butter out at room temperature for at least an hour before you start putting the filling together.
4. Once your dough has proofed (rested) and almost doubled in size, it’s time to add the other half of flour. Your dough might look overly dry at first, but don’t worry, it’s normal.
Once you start kneading, it will soon become nice and sticky.
5. Use the least amount of flour as possible when kneading the dough.
When it comes to cinnamon roll rough, the wetter the better. You’ll need some flour so that it doesn’t stick to the board, but try to add it little by little and only when completely necessary, as to not overdo it.
6. Work the dough until it’s smooth and bounces back when you poke it with your finger.
This is the perfect consistency for cinnamon rolls. It should take you about 10 minutes of kneading to get to that stage, so be patient and consider this your workout of the day.
7. Then it’s time to roll the dough into a rectangle.
Because you’ve kneaded the dough for so long, it’ll be easy to stretch and shape. Shape the dough into a rectangle and use a bench scraper or spatula to make tight corners. It’ll be much easier to get consistent rolls in the end if you take the time to shape the dough into a proper rectangle at this stage.
8. Plop the filling down in various spots rather than spread it all out from the center.
This makes it easier to spread and cover the entire surface of the dough. And take your time to make a nice and even filling because it’ll give the dough a nice shape when you finally roll it.
9. Use your forearm to help you roll the dough.
A tight, evenly rolled log is the key to great cinnamon rolls. If you find one part of the log is fatter than the rest, use your hands to stretch it so it evens out.
10. Use dental floss to cut the rolls.
Whereas a knife cuts from the top down and can often stick in the dough, dental floss allows you to cut in a perfect spiral.
11. If the rolls aren’t holding their shape, pop them into the fridge for about 10 minutes.
You’ll want to make sure they’re keeping their form before baking.
12. You can make the rolls ahead of time and freeze them for up to three months.
This is the point at which you’ll want to cover the rolls in plastic wrap and freeze them if you’re making them ahead of time. When you’re ready to bake them, defrost them overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature before baking them.
13. Let the rolls proof for 40 minutes before baking them.
You might think this is a whole lot of proofing for one recipe, but you really don’t want to skip this step because it’s what gives you fluffy, delicious cinnamon rolls.
14. For the frosting, use powdered sugar and add it little by little.
Powdered sugar dissolves nicely and creates a smooth icing. Make sure to add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time to the softened cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla extract mixture so that no lumps form.
15. Allow the buns to cool before icing them.
If you ice them piping hot from the oven, the icing will immediately melt. Allow them to cool for about ten minutes before icing to achieve a nice glaze.