Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls baking in the oven?
As the Café Supervisor at Berean, I spend quite a bit of my time in the kitchen. I have personally witnessed people in the church being lured into the kitchen by that warm, sweet smell and kindly asking, “Are those cinnamon rolls I smell?” Maybe for you, that sweet aroma evokes the memory of a loved one who would always make that special treat when you were together or memories of you and Grandma kneading and rolling the dough. No doubt cinnamon rolls are a very special dessert, but why are they so special? Well, it's because they are not that simple. And doesn’t completing something that takes a little extra effort smell and taste all the sweeter? I certainly think so!
Overnight cinnamon rolls are my absolute favorite.
I'm so excited to share with you a favorite cinnamon roll recipe that I have been making for over 2 years. I know 2 years doesn’t sound that long, but since I was selling them through my baking business, I have made dozens and dozens of these rolls. I have also tested and tried several other recipes, and this is hands down my favorite. My hope is that this recipe will lead you to lots of laughter and connection as you each enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a roll.
This recipe, as with any yeast dough, is a process. In fact, these are considered overnight rolls, so you will need to set aside a little time for preparation or at least a mindset that you will not be tasting these glorious, sweet-dough pillows until tomorrow. With that being said, I think letting them sit overnight in the refrigerator is what makes them so ooey-gooey and delicious!
Here is what you'll need:
For the dough:
- 4 Large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 Large whole egg, room temperature
- 2 Ounces sugar, approximately ¼ cup
- 3 Ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
- 6 Ounces of buttermilk, room temperature
- 20 Ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
- 1 Package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 ¼ teaspoons
- 1 ¼ Teaspoons salt
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
For the filling:
- 8 Ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4-6 Tablespoons of very soft butter
For the cream cheese frosting (You won’t need this until the next day when you bake them):
- 1 Stick of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
- 1 Tablespoon of vanilla
- 1 Pound of powdered sugar
Let's begin by making the dough.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk until combined.
- Add 2 cups of the flour, as well as the yeast and salt until moistened and combined. (The batter will resemble a cake batter at this stage.)
- Remove the whisk attachment and replace it with the dough hook. Here is when you'll want to have patience with the dough. You will want to add just enough flour so the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. To be sure you don't add too much flour, you must do this a little at a time. Depending on the humidity that day, you may use all four cups or you may not use it all. Just don’t make the mistake of adding all the flour at one time.
- Once your dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl (really it almost cleans the bowl for you), stop the mixture and feel the texture of the dough. You want it to feel sticky without sticking to your fingers. When you feel like you have reached that point, let your mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do this by hand. Ten minutes of kneading always reminds me how spoiled we are with fancy kitchen gadgets.
Let your dough rise until it doubles in volume.
Once you have kneaded your dough for 10 minutes, you are ready to let it rise.
- Grab a large bowl and lightly oil it. I like to grab a paper towel and make sure the whole bowl is covered.
- Gather your ball of dough from your mixer bowl and shape it into a nice, round shape. Place your ball of dough into the oiled bowl and turn it over so that the dough is also covered slightly in the oil.
- Cover with a tea towel and place in a spot, free from drafts. I like to put mine in an oven (that is turned off) and let it rise in there. Because this dough is on the denser side, it will take about 2 ½ hours to double in volume. Go ahead and set a timer and relax.
Prepare your filling.
When there are about 15 minutes left, you can prepare the filling.
- Just mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.
- Then, make sure the butter you are using for the next step is very soft. You are going to be spreading this on the soft dough, so you don’t want any pulling - just a smooth spread.
Prepare your baking dish and roll out your dough.
Next, it is time to prepare your rolls.
- Grab a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and generously butter it. I say generously and I mean it. I think the excess butter on the pan mixes with the brown sugar while baking and creates this amazing gooey bottom. So, don’t be shy when you butter your pan!
- Then, it is time to roll out your dough. There are a few things that I have learned along the way that I want to make sure I pass on to you:
1. Clear a space big enough to roll out an 18-by-12-inch rectangle.
2. Pull out a ruler or a measuring tape, because creating that size is important and it just helps in general to create a great finished product.
3. Do not knead your dough in this step. (As this will create the type of dough that will keep shrinking as you try to form it.)
- Lightly flour your work surface and get ready to have some fun!
- Grab your bowl of dough and softly, yet firmly punch it down. Then, peel it away from the bowl and turn it onto your work surface. I have learned to use my fingers more than a rolling pin, but if a rolling pin is easier for you, go for it.
- I then start to shape a rectangle the size of 18-by-12-inches. The long side of the rectangle will be facing you and the up-and-down side will be the 12-inch part.
Roll up, seal, and cut your rolls. Refrigerate overnight.
- When you are done shaping the dough into a rectangle, you are then going to spread or brush the butter onto the dough, leaving a ½-inch border along the top edge. This is important when you roll your dough up and seal it. If that edge has butter and sugar on it, it will not seal properly.
- Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, being careful not to get any on the top border that you are keeping free from butter and sugar. Gently press the filling into the dough.
- Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam-side down. Very gently, squeeze the cylinder to create an even thickness.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 ½-inch rolls, yielding 12 rolls.
- Arrange the rolls cut-side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Bake and frost your rolls. Then . . . enjoy!
- With strong anticipation, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place them in an oven that is turned off.
- Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set it on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove the rolls and the water from the oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown; approximately 30 minutes. At this point, members of your family will start to confront you about what is in the oven and may even have plates and forks ready! Tell them to be patient!
- Next, you can gather the supplies for the frosting. You want to have your frosting prepared when the rolls come out of the oven, so I start making it at about the 15-minute mark.
- For the frosting, simply blend the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a stand mixer or with a beater until smooth.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- When the rolls are ready to come out of the oven, set them aside for about 15 minutes, and then spread your desired amount of frosting over the warm rolls. There will be extra frosting, but nobody ever seems to be upset about that. You can serve as soon as they are cool enough to eat . . . if you can wait that long!
Don't forget to make some memories!
I really hope you will give this recipe a try. And even though I truly hope your rolls will turn out amazing, I wish even more for special memories to be made with friends and family as you gather 'round and enjoy these rolls together.
Read below for A Recipe Resource you won't want to miss!
Canned meats, canned fruits and veggies, boxed cereals . . . we likely all have some of these items in our kitchen pantry. At first thought, they seem commonplace and a bit boring, but Neighbors, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota challenges us to think again. In a day and age where rising food prices are stressing us out and fancy dinners may seem hard to come by, the wonderful volunteers at the Neighbors, Inc. food shelf have developed a creative recipe-sharing program, called Menu Makers, using some simple food products.
While this program was first designed to provide assistance to those visiting their local food shelf, we hope you'll take advantage of it as well. Each month features a different food shelf item and provides recipes and cooking tips to accompany that item. The goal of the program is to provide simple, affordable, and healthy recipes so that everyone can eat well - even in hard times.
Have a box of Cornflakes? The October Menu Makers recipes show you how Cornflakes are so much more than just a bowl of cereal. Click below for some fun ideas!