A flaky, gooey version of the classic breakfast roll. Filled with a spiced sugar mixture and coated in caramel-nutty goodness.
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.
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.
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*.
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.
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.
*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.
Make Ahead Instructions:
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.