My flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing deliver on their promise of flaky layers. These rolls have that familiar flavor (and aroma) we all know and love even though they are prepared with a small twist. Cream Cheese Icing sweetens the deal, but is totally optional. You can make these the night before you plan to serve them, too, which makes them lazy day-friendly.
Kids, Dads, Baby’s Daddies, Baby’s Daddies Daddies, listen up! I speak on behalf of all the moms out here. We don’t want your bootleg greeting cards (we don’t care if you bought or made them, we don’t want ’em this year). You can also keep the stale ice cream cakes. What we want for Mother’s Day this year is to receive these flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing… IN BED. Without having to help you figure it out.
Your job is to read on to figure out, step by step, how to make these. A close second would be these Pumpkin Sticky Buns, but let’s stay focused.
What You Need to Make These Cinnamon Rolls
Since moms always seem to be the ones prepping for everything, this year it’s her turn to chill. Because I’m such a gem of a friend, I’m going to break down everything you need to do to honor her with a gift she really wants. Breakfast in bed.
Begin by making your shopping list for the recipe: active dry yeast, whole milk, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, eggs, and unsalted butter for the dough. The cinnamon-sugar filling has more unsalted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Finally, the cream cheese icing ingredients: cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
You can do this! You are going to do this and it’s going to be epic. (I’m your hype-woman)
Bloom the Yeast in Warm Milk
First of all, you need to activate the yeast that’s going to help the cinnamon roll dough rise. I use Fleischmann’s active dry yeast. In a small mixing bowl combine the yeast, a pinch of sugar, and the warm milk. The yeast feeds on the sugar and boosts its rising power a bit more than it would without. While you leave these three to do their thing, move on to making the rest of the dough.
Mix the Cinnamon Roll Dough
In your stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream together the granulated sugar, salt, and room temperature unsalted butter. With the mixer on medium-high speed, beat these three together until they are light yellow and fluffy, which takes about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and paddle midway during the mixing, once will do.
Once the mixture appears light in color, add the eggs, one at a time to the bowl- scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition. After the eggs have been added, increase the speed and beat the butter-egg mixture for another 3 minutes. The mixture may look slightly curdled at this point. That’s okay.
Add 1 cup of the flour and the warm milk-yeast mixture to the bowl, mix until a thick paste forms, then add the remaining flour. Once the dough becomes too stiff to mix with the paddle, switch to the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on second speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the dough climbs up the hook, is slightly elastic, and tacky to the touch. The dough should not be sticky, if it is, knead in a bit more flour.
Give the Dough a Rise
After you mix the dough and it feels right, remove it from the bowl. Lightly grease the mixing bowl before returning the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough over so the oiled part is on top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place it in the warmest area of your kitchen. Since my microwave is a controlled environment- temperature-wise- I put my bowl in there.
The dough will need an hour to double in bulk.
Whip the Cinnamon Roll Sugar Filling
While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, mix the butter-cinnamon schmear. This filling is what turns your rolls into cinnamon rolls.
In a mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to whip together the remaining stick of butter, light brown sugar, and cinnamon. Beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture goes from dark to very light brown in appearance. Most, if not all, of the sugar crystals will be completely dissolved. As always, scrape down the bowl and beaters a couple of times while mixing.
Fill and Roll the Cinnamon Rolls
After the dough has finished rising, punch it down to expel the gases that have built up. Allow the dough to rest on the counter for 15 minutes while you gather what you need to roll it out- just flip the bowl upside down over the dough to keep it from drying out.
Lightly flour your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle that measures approximately 17″ x 14″. It should be no thicker than 1/8 of an inch.
Use an off-set spatula to spread the cinnamon schmear over the surface of the dough. Leave a 1″ margin on one long (17″) end. This is needed for sealing the dough after we’ve rolled it.
Fold over a 1/4″ of dough on the schmear-covered long end. Tightly roll the dough to the un-schmeared end and pinch the seam against the roll to seal it. Position the dough so the pinched seam is on the bottom.
Cut to Suit Your Preference
Before you slice your rolls, lightly grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish with non-stick baking spray.
Use a very sharp knife to cut anywhere from 6 to 12 cinnamon rolls from your long log. Now, I, personally, prefer a big, obnoxious cinnamon roll for breakfast. You may want one that’s a little more demure. If you opt to cut a dozen out, you’ll need to divide the rolls between two baking dishes or a half sheet pan.
Arrange the rolls in the pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and put the pan in a warm area to rise for 30 minutes.
The rolls will rise slightly, but won’t double in size. Pop the pan into an oven that’s been preheated to 350°F after the rolls risen a second time. Bake them for 25-30 minutes or until they’re golden brown and risen. Also, keep in mind the larger the rolls, the longer you may have to bake them to cook them throughout. It may take 35 minutes. If you find they’re getting too dark after 25 minutes of baking, lightly cover them with foil and finish baking.
Prepare the Cream Cheese Icing
Prepare the cream cheese icing while the cinnamon rolls are filling up your home with the smell of love.
In a mixing bowl, blend together the soft cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Once the sugar is incorporated into the mix, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters. Increase the speed to high and whip the icing for 2-3 minutes. Set the icing bowl aside while you grab the cinnamon rolls from the oven.
Ice the Cinnamon Rolls
To achieve a nice thick layer of icing on the cinnamon rolls, allow them to cool down (for about 15 minutes) before you spread the icing on them. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven if you want more of a glaze.
Serve the Cinnamon Rolls Warm
Serve the cinnamon rolls while they’re still warm!
My favorite way to BE SERVED these cinnamon rolls is with a side of crisp bacon and fresh fruit, Héctor. HÉCTOR!! Somebody, go get him!
The rolls are best enjoyed within 48 hours of baking, but a quick zap in the microwave will restore them to their “freshly baked” glory.
Tips for Preparing Your Cinnamon Rolls Ahead
If you’re the type who doesn’t do early morning prepping, just make the rolls the evening before and bake in the morning.
Instead of allowing them to rise a second time, arrange the rolls in the baking dish, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Place the pan in the fridge overnight. In the morning, put the unwrapped pan in your cold oven. Allow it to hang out in there for ten minutes before turning the oven on to 350°F. Once the oven reaches temperature, set your timer to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check on the rolls. If they’re brown, pull them; if not, allow them to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Ice as instructed.
Make these for the mom in your life. She wants these more than she wants to go wait in a virus-infected restaurant for some mediocre brunch. Trust me, I’m a professional.
Pin the recipe so you don’t lose it and share with the others who need to know this important info.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icingat Sense & Edibility
- stand mixer with a dough hook
- 9x13-inch baking pan
- rolling pin
- 4 1/2 teaspoons (14g) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup + 1 pinch (105 g) granulated sugar (separated)
- 1 cup (250ml) milk warmed to 110°F
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 4 1/2-5 1/2 cups (585-715g) all-purpose flour
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed (120g) light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (8g) ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
- 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups (12 ounces or 340g) powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from a small lemon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt optional
Prepare the Sweet Dough
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, a pinch of the sugar, and the warm milk. Allow the yeast to bloom for five minutes. The mixture should begin foaming and smell like bread. If it doesn't foam after 5 minutes, your yeast is dead and you'll need to restart with new yeast.
- Once the yeast has bloomed, use your stand mixer's paddle attachment to cream together the remaining granulated sugar, butter, and salt on medium-high speed.Beat the mixture until it's light yellow and fluffy- about 4 minutes- scraping down the bowl and paddle once during mixing.
- When the mixture appears light in color, add the eggs, one at a time to the bowl- scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition.After the eggs have been added, increase the mixing speed and beat the butter-egg mixture for another 3 minutes. The mixture may look slightly curdled at this point. That's okay.
- Add 1 cup of the flour and the warm milk-yeast mixture to the bowl, mix until a thick paste forms, then add the rest of the flour. Once the dough becomes too stiff to mix with the paddle, switch to the dough hook.Knead the dough on second speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the dough climbs up the hook, is slightly elastic, and feels tacky to the touch. The dough should not be sticky, if it is, knead in more flour- a half-cup at a time. The amount of flour you will use depends on how humid your environment is.
- After the dough is the proper consistency, remove it from the bowl. Lightly grease the mixing bowl with butter or non-stick spray before returning the dough. Turn the dough over so the oiled part is on top.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place it in the warmest area of your kitchen- a microwave or cool oven works best. Allow the dough to rise for an hour or until it has doubled in bulk.
Prepare the Cinnamon Schmear
- After the dough has finished rising, punch it down to expel the excess gases. Turn the dough out of the bowl. Invert the bowl over the dough and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes while you prepare the Cinnamon Schmear.
- In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip together the butter, light brown sugar, and cinnamon. Beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture goes from dark to very light brown in appearance. Scrape down the bowl and beaters a couple of times while mixing.Set the schmear aside.
Roll and Cut the Cinnamon Roll Dough
- Grease a 9"x13" casserole dish with baking spray. Lightly flour your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 17"x14" rectangle. The dough should be an 1/8" thick.Use an off-set spatula to spread the cinnamon schmear over the surface of the dough. Leave a 1" margin on one of the long (17") sides for sealing the roll.
- Fold over a 1/4" of dough on the schmear-covered long side. Continue rolling the dough tightly towards the un-schmeared end, pinching the seam against the roll to seal it.Position the dough so the pinched seam is on the bottom.
- Use a very sharp knife to cut 6 to 12 cinnamon rolls from your long log. The less rolls you cut, the bigger your baked cinnamon rolls will be. If you opt to cut a dozen, you'll need to divide the rolls between two baking dishes or a half sheet pan.Arrange the rolls in the pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and put the pan(s) in a warm area to rise for 30 minutes. The rolls will rise slightly, but won't double in size.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F While you're waiting for your rolls to rise.Pop the pan into the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until they're golden brown and risen*.
Make the Cream Cheese Icing
- In a mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract together on low speed. After the sugar has been incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters.Increase the mixer's speed to high and whip the icing for 2-3 minutes. Set the icing bowl aside while you grab the cinnamon rolls from the oven.
Ice the Cinnamon Rolls
- For a thick layer of icing on the cinnamon rolls, allow them to cool down (for about 15 minutes) before you spread the icing on them. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven if you want more of a glaze.Serve the cinnamon rolls while they're still warm!The cinnamon rolls taste best if eaten within 48 hours of baking.
*A Note About Servings:
- This recipe makes enough dough for 12 average size cinnamon rolls. For giant cinnamon rolls, cut the rolled log into 6 equal portions and press slightly each roll slightly when arranging them in the baking dish.
- For larger rolls, the baking time should be extended to 35-40 minutes. Lightly cover the rolls after 25 minutes of baking to prevent them from turning too dark.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts onto the cinnamon schmear before tightly rolling the dough.
- In lieu of the second rise, arrange the rolls in the baking dish, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the unbaked rolls overnight.
- In the morning, put the unwrapped pan in your cold oven for 10 minutes before heating the oven to 350°F.
- Once the oven reaches temperature, set your timer for 20 minutes. Check the rolls after 20 minutes. If they're brown, remove them from the oven; if not, allow them bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Ice as instructed.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls as instructed. Cool the rolls to room temperature.
- Transfer the rolls to a freezer bag and freeze for 2 months.
- Thaw the rolls at room temperature before icing as instructed.
OMG hahaha. I laughed too hard at the stale ice cream cakes shade. I cannot stand them! Sending this post to my kiddos so that they get the hint for Sunday!
They better come through, Bernice!
These are perfect for Mothers Day. I had a day off today, when she was working, so I made a trial run to see if I could make it. They were delicious, and recipe was easy enough to follow for a newbie like me. Breakfast in bed, done!
YES, PETER! That’s the attitude!