The scent of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven is arguably one of life’s greatest pleasures. They take some advance planning, since the dough needs to rise twice before baking, but you can do almost all of the work a day in advance, so all you have to do the morning you serve them is pop them in the oven and make the thick, orange-scented cream cheese icing. If you like, you can sprinkle 1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries or chopped toasted pecans or walnuts on top of the filling.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
For the dough:
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) granulated sugar
5 Tbs. (2 1/2 oz./75 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 package (2 1⁄2 tsp.) quick-rise yeast
5 cups (25 oz./780 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
For the filling:
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the cream cheese icing:
1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) confectioners’ sugar
2 oz. (60 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) whole milk, or as needed
To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, sugar, butter, eggs and yeast. Add 4 1/2 cups (22 1/2 oz./705 g) of the flour and the salt. Place the bowl on the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed, adding as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl.
Remove the paddle attachment and fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth but still soft, 6 to7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
Butter a large bowl. Add the dough and turn to coat with the butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Use at once, or punch down the dough, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Punch down the dough and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
To make the filling, in a bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until combined, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll out into a 16-by-14-inch (40-by-35-cm) rectangle, with the long side facing you. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) border at the top and bottom. Starting at the long side of the rectangle farthest from you, roll up the rectangle into a log. Pinch the seams to seal. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices with a sharp knife.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, 75 to 90 minutes. Or refrigerate overnight until doubled in size, 8 to12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake until the rolls are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and orange zest. Using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat the mixture until crumbly. Gradually beat in enough of the milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Pour the icing over the warm rolls, and then spread it out evenly using a metal icing spatula. (This makes a thick layer of icing, so use less, if you wish.) Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 rolls.
Find more great recipes for sunrise specialties in our book
Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers.