Cinnamon Rolls are an idea most of us can get behind—and hopefully right up close! Perhaps it’s that fresh-from-the-oven aroma, or the cinnamony-sugary swirls, or the sticky sweet pull-apart layers, or all three characteristics that put the demand for a good recipe at the forefront of our Test Kitchen’s must-have breakfast recipe list. We’ve certainly made our share of terrific cinnamon rolls, to be sure. And, we’re not beyond purchasing premade rolls to bake up at a moments notice. Yet, we are firmly in the camp of those who believe that the very best cinnamon rolls your going to eat are the ones you make yourself. You just need the right recipe.
That’s why we’re psyched to feature a knockout recipe from our forthcoming cookbook, Baking Favorites: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes From Our Test Kitchen. This is the recipe you want, need and deserve right now. The dough is soft and pliable, the filling sweetly spiced and sugary, and yes, it will perfume your home exactly as intended. Cinnamon rolls aren’t zero-effort, but they’re definitely not as much work as you might suspect—especially when you make the dough ahead and have it ready to bake in the morning. And we know you’re going to agree with us that it was worth it once you set these on the table and dig in.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
These pastries are tailor-made for a lazy Sunday brunch: you can prepare the dough a day ahead and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then let the rolls warm up and allow them to rise further, until doubled in size from their original shape, before baking.
For the Dough
- 3⁄4 cup (180 ml) warm whole milk (110°F/43°C)
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup (1 3⁄4 oz/50 g) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 4 Tbs. (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 cups (12 oz/340 g) plus 1 tablespoon bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- Canola oil, for greasing
For the Filling
- 3⁄4 cup (5 1⁄2 oz/155 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 Tbs. (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 Tbs. (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3⁄4 cup (3 oz/90 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the warm milk, yeast, and the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup (13/4 oz/50 g) granulated sugar, egg, egg yolk, and melted butter. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt and beat until a wet dough forms, about 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and only slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead once or twice. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled large bowl, turning to coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1–1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling: In the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the clean paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, butter, and vanilla on medium speed until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Butter a 12-inch (30-cm) ovenproof frying pan. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and roll out into a rectangle 14 by 11 inches (35 by 28 cm), with a short side toward you.
Dollop the filling over the dough. Using an offset spatula, spread evenly, leaving a 1/4-inch (6-mm) border on the short side farthest from you. Starting from the side closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log, brushing off the excess flour as you go. Pinch the seams to seal. Reshape as needed so the log is 11 inches (28 cm) long. Using a serrated knife, cut the log crosswise into 11 slices, each 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.
Place the rolls in the prepared frying pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let the rolls rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove the towel and plastic wrap from the pan. Bake until the rolls are golden brown, 20–23 minutes. You want them to be slightly underbaked.
While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting: In the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the clean paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then spread the rolls with the cream cheese frosting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 11 rolls.
Excerpted from Williams Sonoma Baking Favorites: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes from Our Test Kitchen (Weldon Owen Inc, 2021). Photography, Erin Scott.