**I’m re-posting my Cinnamon Roll recipe to the front page, after it was featured on The Kitchn today. I’ve included the sweet dough recipe and an option to print the recipe below. **
I’m posting the cinnamon roll recipe from my book here today, as many of you have been looking for it after the Pancake Princess declared it winner of her Cinnamon Roll Bake Off (yay!). I had the rolls in a different form here, but since the recipe was on several other sites and I had so many questions about where to find it and how to make them, I now have it here for you.
TROUBLESHOOTING: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about these cinnamon rolls! Here are answers to a few of the most common questions:
1. How do I fold the dough? I’ve just included a GIF below of the folding process, which shows how to do it.
2. Why do I fold the dough? Folding the dough helps improve the dough’s structure, ensures gluten will form, and makes it easier to handle.
3. What if I don’t have instant yeast? You can still use active yeast. Active dry yeast is a little different than instant in that it used to be made with larger granules and needed to be dissolved first. However, most yeast made today has similar sized granulates, so you can skip this step. It should be fine to use the active yeast in the recipe as written. If you are worried about it, you could dissolve the yeast in the warm milk instead of adding it to the flour mixture. Red Star Yeast has a great FAQ page troubleshooting yeast here. You can read more about the difference in yeast here.
4. Is the dough supposed to be this sticky after mixing? YES! It is. The directions call for it to be chilled after mixing, which will help with the rolling out process. If you don’t chill the dough, it will be hard to roll out.
5. What if I don’t have all-purpose flour? Bread flour is a fine substitution, but the texture will be slightly different, and not as fluffy. Whole wheat flour will make the rolls more dense, and you may need to add more liquid to the dough.
6. Can I add more cinnamon flavor? Of course! I sometimes use 3/4 cup brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon for the filling.
7. Can I shape the buns and let them rise overnight in the fridge? Yes! There are directions below on how to do so (this step still requires that the dough be chilled first before rolling).
8. Can I freeze the baked buns? If you want to bake the buns and freeze them, you can. Once cooled, wrap them in plastic, and then place them in a freezer bag for up to 2 weeks. Thaw, warm, and then coat with icing. They may not be as soft and tender as fresh-baked buns.
9. Can I substitute something else for the honey? I honestly haven’t tried it, and the ratios may have to be adjusted somewhat when changing out sugar-y liquids. You can check out this link for trying maple syrup instead. Here is another link for substituting other liquids.
10. Can I use other egg sizes beside large? Yes. Check out this egg size conversion chart for replacing egg sizes.
11. Why do I knead the dough straight from the fridge and then let it rest again? Kneading the dough a few times (10 to 12, as indicated in the recipe) helps wake the gluten up; there is a lot of butter in this dough which can get in the way, so sometimes it needs a little help. Then covering it and letting it rest for 20 minutes before rolling it will help the gluten relax so it is easier to roll.
From my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
Notes: The dough can be cut into 8, 10, or 12 pieces, depending on your preferred size. Add a few minutes to the baking time for larger-size buns.
I like my cinnamon rolls super soft and gooey, so I put a thin layer of the icing over them while they are still very warm. The icing melts into the warm rolls, eliminating any hard corners or edges. If you prefer a little crispy crunch to your cinnamon rolls, you can wait until they have cooled and then top them with all the icing. And if you need to eat them warm, go ahead and smother them with all the icing right from the oven.
You don’t have to use a 9 x 13-inch baking pan here; you can get creative if you’d like. I often use this round 10-inch pan for baking the cinnamon rolls or this 5 quart braiser. You could also bake them on a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, warm (100-110F)
1/4 cup honey
4 cups (568g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks | 142g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup (99g) packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (29g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 tablespoons (1 stick | 113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces (114g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
For the dough
Grease a large bowl.
In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs, milk, and honey.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be very sticky and you will need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the bowl and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings (see the GIF above on how to do this folding). Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.
Flour a work surface and knead the cold Sweet Dough 10 to 12 times (see troubleshooting above for why). Shape the dough into a ball, cover the top lightly with flour, and cover with a tea towel and let come to room temperature.
Grease a 9×13-inch pan; if desired, line with parchment paper (this makes for easier cleanup).
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Roll the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam side down. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 12-equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pan and place them cut side up. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Remove the plastic and bake 27 to 32 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula or table knife, apply a thin layer of the cream cheese icing, using about one-third of the mixture. Let the rolls cool for another 15 to 20 minutes. Top with the rest of the icing and serve.
For the icing
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix on low to combine. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium until the icing is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
For overnight cinnamon rolls
Prepare the rolls (roll out dough, fill them, roll them up, cut them, and put them in the prepared pan, but do not let rise for 1 1/2 hours as stated above) then cover them loosely with plastic and refrigerate for up to 18 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven, and let the rolls sit at room temperature (still covered in plastic) for 30-45 minutes. Bake as directed (they make take slightly longer to bake).