Over the past 10 years I’ve made a lot of different cinnamon roll recipes. I’ve tried different types of dough, some fillings with nuts, some without, different frostings and glazes… and only in the past year have I really gotten down what I think is the BEST recipe. The dough is so fluffy and light it rises quickly and makes for the softest pull-apart bready portion of the roll. But the filling is gooey enough that while the outside layers of roll are bready and light, the inside is gooey and dripping with melted cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture. Also a cream cheese frosting is a must, but I’ve found it’s best to make it a little differently than a traditional cream cheese buttercream—so it melts better on the top of each roll. Okay now that I’m salivating (!) I’ll get into the recipe.
First off, I start with the Lion House roll recipe for the dough. Of any dough I’ve made this is ALWAYS the best. It has an egg and melted butter and powdered milk in it so the dough is super soft, and I add extra yeast so it rises quickly and softly.
- 2 tablespoons dry active yeast (the recipe calls for 2 but I use 4 tablespoons)
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1 egg
- 6 cups flour
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/3 c. butter softened
- 1/3 c. butter softened
- 1/2 package cream cheese, softened
- 2-3 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 5-8 tablespoons of milk, as needed
After dough has risen, punch down and knead into ball. Roll out onto floured surface. Roll into a large rectangular shape. *In the past I’d seen recipes indicating roll the dough as thin as possible to get as many layers of cinnamon roll as possible, however I’ve found that by leaving the dough a little thicker it rises much better and stays much fluffier throughout the 2nd rise and baking process. The cinnamon rolls don’t have as many layers but they are much much better!
Once the dough is rolled out, use your hands to spread 1/3 c. softened butter over dough. Then mix packed brown sugar with cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over dough. Roll dough into vertical log (notice how loosely I rolled it).
Cut dough at approximately every 1 inch to make 12-18 rolls depending on how big each roll is (I made a pan of 10 and saved the extra dough for some cinnamon bread). Here’s what my rolls looked like just after cutting and placing in a 9x13 pan (sprayed with cooking spray):
Cover and let rise for 15 minutes on top of stove. Meanwhile set stove to 200 degrees F to keep the area around the rolls warm. After they’ve risen, place them in the 200 degree oven for 5 minutes, then turn the temperature up to 350 degrees F and bake for 15-18 more minutes (don’t open the oven door when you raise the temp).
While the rolls are baking, prepare your frosting. In a stand mixer whip butter and cream cheese as hard as the beater will go. Cream cheese is finicky and you have to beat it hard to get the lumps out and make sure it’s fully incorporated into the butter and whipped. Then turn down the speed and add the powdered sugar slowly, alternating with a bit of milk. Add vanilla. Continue adding powdered sugar and milk until you get a smooth consistency, slightly thinner than traditional butter cream. You want the frosting to melt easily on the rolls so it will almost be a mixture of icing and frosting—not too thin but not too thick.
Pull them out and frost immediately! I like to frost each one individually rather than slathering frosting on the whole pan at once.