Momma's Famous Cinnamon Rolls! (Vlog)
This is it! The moment you’ve all been waiting for, and a moment I assure you, is TOTALLY worth the wait. These rolls are ooey gooey bombs of cinnamon, pecans, and cream cheese, all nestled in a fluffy yeast roll. We’ve all had a Cinnabon roll that just knocked our socks off, and while I do enjoy a good Cinnabon when I’m making a trip to the mall or airport, I truly reserve my cinnamon rolls cravings for my own rolls, because frankly, I get to make them exactly how I like them, and that’s WAYYYYYY better than any Cinnabon I’ve ever had.
This recipe is originated from my mom’s recipe from my childhood. When I was a kid, my mom made cinnamon rolls exclusively for the holidays and for my dad and grandpa’s early morning fishing trips. I remember tagging along for a full day of fishing just to have a roll (seriously, they were THAT good), and warming these bad boys up wrapped in foil, atop a propane heater while we listened for any of the fishing pole bells to jingle. Cinnamon rolls were reserved to only a few times a year because: 1) They required a lot of effort! and 2) They were just better when you don’t have them all the time. I found out into my teenage years, that my mom actually isn’t a fan of cinnamon rolls, but made them solely for other’s enjoyment. This probably saved her a lot of weight gain in the long run, because I literally cannot help myself when I’ve got a hot pan of a dozen rolls coming out of the oven, and I know I only need six for the dessert I’m prepping for friends… Nevertheless, my mom got me hooked, and when I got older, she showed me her tricks and tips to making the best cinnamon rolls ever, and I’ll in turn share those with you!
Click the vlog at the top of this post to watch a glorious “how to” video if this is your first time, I promise, the time spent watching will make all the difference in the world! I’ve written out everything else for you, with the addition of my own tips and tricks, and slight recipe variations from the original recipe given to my by my mom which included phrases like “add more frosting” and “a little more butter”. Also, I’m tagging the link to my breadmaker right here! I have gotten a ton of questions on it, so here she is in all her glory! GET ONE!
Ingredients (for rolls):
4 Cups all Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
5 Teaspoons BreadMaker Yeast (OR 4 Teaspoons Regular Dry Active Instant Yeast if you’re prepping these without a breadmaker)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Large Egg
1 Cup Very Warm Milk (180-190 degrees Fahrenheit, any hotter and you’ll kill the yeast, so don’t overdo it or you’ll be a yeast murderer!)
1/4 Cup Slightly Melted Butter (again, not too hot here either)
Ingredients (for filling)
1/2 Cup Melted Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Chopped Pecans (or nuts of choice, or NO nuts!)
2-5 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon (depending on how cinnamonny you like your rolls, I prefer 4 tablespoons)
Ingredients (for frosting…icing…fricing? Fristing? Friscting?)
8 Ounces Cream Cheese (Room Temperature)
1/4 Cup Butter (Room Temperature)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Milk (or more if you like thinner icing… fristing…whatever)
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
Instructions (Note that I am using a breadmaker for my first proof, but I did list instructions for those not using a breadmaker as well):
Combine all dry ingredients in a breadmaker, making sure to add yeast last so it is on top. If you are not using a breadmaker, combine all dry ingredients EXCEPT yeast in a large bowl and whisk to combine before adding wet ingredients.
Microwave milk and butter (can do this together) on high for one minute, it’s okay if the butter isn’t 100% melted. If you are not using a breadmaker, microwave separately. You can pour melted butter into the dry ingredients, but you’ll proof the yeast for 10-15 minutes in the warm ilk before adding it to your dry ingredients. This step is not necessary for a breadmaker version!
Add your egg, milk, and butter to the dry ingredients in your breadmaker, and turn it on to a “dough” or “proof” setting. This will mix all ingredients, and get them through the first rise. Total time should really be no more than 1.5 hours. If you are not using a breadmaker:
After you’ve proofed your yeast in the milk (meaning you let it sit until it got kinda bubbly and smells yeasty), add remaining egg, milk, and yeast to your wet ingredients and mix well. You’ll combine these ingredients in your bowl, but you will eventually need to turn our the mixture onto a lightly floured surface.
Adding as little additional flour as possible, knead your dough for 5-10 minutes, taking care to turn it round and fold it over itself again and again. Don’t give up here, kneading is very important.
Once you’ve kneaded your dough and it is springy to the touch (should not be crazy sticky, if it is, add a sprinkle more of flour and knead again for a minute or so), form it into a nice little dough ball.
Grease your original mixing bowl and put your dough ball back inside (make sure it’s pretty scraped out, you don’t want crusties in there). Cover with a light, cotton, damp kitchen towel, and set dough in a draft free, warm area for about an 30 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size. (I like to put mine on top of a fridge or freezer to help with the warming process.)
After dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a clean, flat surface in your kitchen. Deflate your dough by pressing your fist into it, and remove dough from the breadmaker or bowl.
With lightly floured hands and a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 20-24 inch by 14-16 inch rectangle. The more rectangular the shape, the more viable end pieces you have for extra rolls!.
Make your filling by microwaving the butter on high for 30-45 seconds or until melted but not bubbling. Remove and add in brown sugar, nuts (if desired), and cinnamon to taste.
Mix together filling and the result should be a crumbly, coarse, wet sand like texture. If you omitted nuts, you made need to add a bit more brown sugar to balance out the ratios. This wet sand consistency is easiest to spread in my opinion. If it’s too wet, it will seep out of your rolls.
Using a rubber spatula (we called them child cheaters in my house because they scraped all the leftovers out of the bowl so the kids couldn’t lick them clean), spread your filling evenly over rolled out dough, careful to get very close to all corners and edges.
Starting from the bottom, of the rectangle (closest to you), roll the dough into a long, skinny, log.
Using a serrated knife, cut 12 one to two inch rolls (depending on how long your log is), but making sure they are all equal sized. Start by cutting your log in half, or make indentations before actually cutting to help with spacing. You must use a serrated knife here and saw through the rolls. If you press down or use a non-serrated knife, you will pinch the ends and the rolls will not rise how they should.
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish (can go 2 inches bigger or smaller and you’ll still be fine) and set 4 rows of 3 rolls each in the pan. If you have an extra end, pair it with the original end. The ends are usually the runts of the litter and can use each other to make one gigantor roll! Mmmmmm…
OPTION: Stop here, cover pan, with plastic wrap a few times, and freeze the rolls for up to 6 weeks. You will take them out of the freezer the night before you wish to cook them, unwrap and set in a warm, draft free place with a damp towel on top and let them unfreeze and rise a second time overnight or for 8 hours. You can bake normally after they rise. Do not overproof of they’ll collapse in the oven.
Cover rolls with a light, cotton, damp kitchen towel, and set dough in a draft free, warm area for about an hour or until doubled in size. (I like to put mine on top of a fridge or freezer to help with the warming process.) You don’t want to overproof the rolls either, this can lead to rolls collapsing in the oven and you’ll have little cinnamon bricks. And hour is usually good, no more than an hour and a half. You should use less time if it’s warmer!
While rolls finish the last 20 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once rolls have doubled in size, remove the towel and bake for 25-30 minutes in your preheated oven. I like mine slightly underbaked, so I’ll just pull mine out when the tops start to get golden. Just FYI, if you way underbake your rolls, the centers may collapse a little, making a less tight rolls. Totally up to you and your preference. They’re good fully baked too.
While rolls are baking, make icing. Fristing. Topping. There we go. USing your stand or electric mixer, combine softened cream cheese and butte.r Cream together until no lumps remain. Add in vanilla and milk, again, cream until smooth. Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time. Start mixer out on low and work your way up or you will have a little sugar explosion in your kitchen. Beat on high for a few minutes to get rid of all lumps.
Once rolls are done, I like to pull from the oven and frost immediately. I’ll usually serve within a few minutes as well.
If you’re taking rolls somewhere else for others to enjoy, you can either: 1) bake and frost them there, 2) keep them unfrosted to warm up later, or 3) warm up with frosting, doesn’t really make a huge difference. I prefer to take and bake personally (just don’t forget to make your icing in advance!).
Don’t overheat your milk. Remember, you can quickly become a yeast murderer. 180-190 degrees people. If your yeast dies, your rolls will not rise. Ever had a cinnamon brick? I have…
On the same note, remember hat your butter does not need to be melted in the roll dough either. You can use anywhere from room temp to slightly melty. But using full on melted butter can jeopardize dough consistency.
Don’t overdo it on the flour when you’re kneading. Dough should stick a little but should not be gluey. Think satiny PlayDoh textured.
Always cut rolls with a serrated knife. I’ve heard some people like to use the floss cutting method, I do not. I prefer a knife.
Use butter. Never shortening, absolutely never oil. Buttah!
Leave lots of space for rolls to rise. If you leave it, they will fill it, and this will leave you with fluffier rolls!
It’s better to use thinner icing and frost everywhere than to use thick icing and only frost parts. You want icing on every bit of your rolls. Thin it out with milk and reduce the cream cheese if you must.
Make them how YOU like them! If you light doughy less cinnamonny rolls, don’t roll your dough so thin, and only use a bit of cinnamon in your filling! Many people use walnuts in cinnamon rolls, but I think walnuts give them a bitter aftertaste. I’ve also known people to request no nuts, or even (ew) raisins. I’ll happily oblige, but that’s not my cup of tea.
FOR MASS PRODUCTION: I make about 15-20 dozen each year to share with friends and family. I do use a breadmaker to proof my first rise, and I’ll never go back. Some other tips I have are:
have a roll making day and freeze them all after step 11 (above) until you’re ready to bake them!
The day before you need your rolls, take them out of the freezer at least 8 hours in advance. You can bake them all the next day! It’s so much easier than proofing, rolling, proofing again, baking, and frosting all in one day!
Have fun with this one! It’s literally the “recipe I’m known for” if you know what I mean!