Really, why mess with a good thing? These rolls are basic – a simple, tender dough rolled up with brown sugar and (lots of) cinnamon. They’re smothered with a thick cream cheese frosting. It’s tangy rather than sickly sweet, so it pairs perfectly with the sweet rolls.
I made these for Tessa’s “sleep under” for her 6th birthday. The idea was breakfast for dinner, so I paired them with thick cut bacon and sliced strawberries, per her request. I’ve never seen 6 little girls eat so much before in my life. You know how the plates at birthday parties are usually laden with food when the kids run off to continue the fun? Not so with these rolls. Not only did they clean their plates, they asked for seconds and thirds, meandering into the kitchen and asking shyly if they could have “just one more cinnamon roll”. Tessa asked me why I made 12 big rolls when only 5 guests were coming – I told her not to worry. As I expected, I sent home the last two rolls with a mom-friend (which was a good thing as I needed them out of my house).
To make these for brunch or breakfast start after dinner and before you go to bed roll them up. In the morning they will be ready to bake. These rolls would be a perfect holiday morning treat, though I like to take my time and make them for a mid-afternoon snack. Start about four hours ahead of when you want to eat them and you’re good to go, but always keep in mind that you can store dough in the fridge at any point to slow the rise.
Cream Cheese Glazed Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 big rolls
Barely adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1/2 c. milk
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c. warm water
1 envelope Rapid Rise or Quick yeast
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 – 41/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to near room temperature
2 tbsp. milk or cream
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Microwave milk and butter until butter is melted. Cool to luke warm (about 10 minutes).
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a large mixing bowl), mix together the water, yeast, sugar, eggs and egg yolks at low speed until well mixed. If using mixing bowl, mix with hand held electric mixer.
3. Add salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 c. of the flour. Mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.
4. Switch to the dough hook (or a mixing spoon if using hand mixer) and add another 2 c. flour. Knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl (about 10 minutes). If mixing by hand, use the spoon until dough comes together into a rough ball. Dump out onto floured counter and knead with your hands at least 10 minutes.
5. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and knead briefly with your hands to bring together into a round. Place into a lightly greased mixing bowl (a large bowl) and turn to coat in grease.
6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
7. Press down the risen dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll or press dough into a 16 x 12 in. rectangle (roughly, don’t worry about exact measurement).
8. Mix together the filling ingredients and sprinkle evenly on the rectangle leaving a 1 in. border on the far end. Roll up dough tightly, starting at the long end closest to you, pulling it over itself as you roll. Pinch the edge closed as well as the ends of the roll.
9. Lightly flour the dough and press/squeeze the roll gently to form a 16 in. cylinder.
10. Using thread, cut 12 rolls from the cylinder. Slide the string underneath, pull the ends up, cross them over the top, and pull. The string criss-crosses itself and slices the dough cleanly and efficiently.
11. Place rolls evenly (and cut side up) in a greased 13 x 9 in. pan, spacing them evenly (3×4).
12. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours in a warm place, if baking that day. To make the next morning, place rolls in the fridge. Rolls can stay in the fridge for up to 2 days; they will rise very slowly in the cool air.
13. Once risen (or the next morning), preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the risen rolls for 25 minutes on the center rack of the oven.
14. While rolls bake, make glaze. Whisk together (or beat with electric mixer) the powdered sugar and cream cheese. Add milk/cream, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth. Set in the fridge until needed.
15. Invert rolls onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. To invert, place the rack on top of the rolls and flip the dish over whilst holding the rack on top.
16. Turn the rolls upright onto a large serving plate. Spread evenly with glaze and serve.