Soft, fluffy, golden cinnamon rolls loaded with gooey cinnamon sugar filling and topped with a generous smear of delicious cream cheese frosting. These cinnamon rolls are to die for; absolutely the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted. I have been waiting for an occasion to make this recipe for awhile because, as much as I would love to make these all the time, I really can't justify a huge pan of cinnamon rolls just for the three of us. So when one of my oldest friends asked to have a pot luck 'bridesmaid brunch' at my house, I knew it would be the perfect time to make these. We had such a good time at brunch talking about wedding details, DIYs, and just catching up with old friends. Of course the food was amazing as well: mini quiche, fruit salad, pastries, zucchini bread, french toast casserole, roasted root vegetables, and these cinnamon rolls.
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/4 oz packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
To make the dough, add four cups of flour, the sugar, yeast and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly mix the dry ingredients together. Heat the milk in the microwave for about 45 second to warm it slightly. Add the melted butter, eggs, and milk to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
Remove the paddle attachment and scrap as much of the sticky dough off, back into the bowl, as you can. Put the dough hook onto the mixer and knead on a medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. After about five minutes of kneading, if the dough is still really sticky add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, a little at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but still is sticking to the bottom. The dough should be on the sticky/moist side because this makes for super fluffy rolls, so don't add too much flour. You know the dough has been kneaded enough when it is smooth and elastic, but it should still be a bit sticky. Note that you can prepare the dough by hand with a wooden spoon and then knead on a floured surface probably for 15+ minutes, if you don't have a stand mixer
Grease another large bowl with oil or cooking spray and transfer the dough into this bowl. Turn the dough ball around to coat it in the oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the dough aside in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or doubled in size. My kitchen is very cold, so what I usually do is turn my oven on when I start making the dough and let it preheat for about two minutes. I then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise. I try to check the dough every half hour or so and if its cold again, I will turn the oven on again to preheat for about one minute and then turn it off. This helps create a nice warm environment for the dough to rise. The time that you allow your oven to preheat will depend on the specifications and type of oven you have. You only want the temperature in the oven to be about 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a floured surface and punch the air out of it. Knead the dough lightly for a minute or two. Grease a 9x13 dish or 11x17 jelly roll pan. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 16x12 inches. Spread the softened butter all over the surface of the dough and then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon all over evenly. Drizzle the vanilla bean paste all over, if using. Leave about a 1/2 inch border empty around the edges
Starting on the long side of the dough that is farthest away from you, roll the dough towards you tightly, forming a log shape. Pinch the edge of the dough together to form a seam and then place the log seam side down. Lightly stretch the log out to about 18 inches. Cut off the two ends of the log that do not have much filling. Use a very sharp knife or a string of unflavored dental floss to cut the log into 12 even sized rolls. Start by cutting the log in half at the middle and then each half, cut in half again. Then cut each of the four sections into three rolls. Place the rolls into the greased pan.
If you want to bake the rolls the same day, cover them and let the rolls rise again for about an hour, until doubled in size. If you want to bake the rolls the next day, cover the rolls and place in the refrigerator overnight. Take the rolls out of the fridge an hour before you want to bake them and let them rise. In either case, bake the rolls at 350°F for 22 to 25 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Cream together the softened butter and cream cheese using an electric mixer or a whisk, until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Frost the rolls about five minutes after they are removed from the oven for best results. Serve the rolls warm. The rolls are best eaten immediately but if you have leftovers they can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. You can microwave them for 20 to 30 seconds before eating to take the chill off.
Inspired by Averie Cooks