Cinnamon Rolls (Cinnabon-like)
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Makes 15 Rolls
Bake Time - 20 minutes
Prep Time - Variable, 1.5 hours
Homemade cinnamon rolls and the store bought ready-to-bake versions are 2 things that can never be compared. The homemade version is just sooooo much better. This recipe makes very soft and moist rolls, very much like those you would buy at Cinnabon. I start out with my recipe for sweet yeast rolls as the base then after the first proof, I add the filling, roll and cut then proof for the second time. My sweet roll dough gives it that softness. The secret to the moistness of this cinnamon roll is adding heavy whipping cream to it right before baking. I was able to figure this out by reading a blog post by Tastes of Lizzy T.
Combing with sweet roll recipe and this secret ingredient makes for the best cinnamon roll recipe out there. Seriously. Many recipes promise this and don’t deliver. This recipe will not fail you.
Tips for Dough Success: Give the dough enough time too proof. Many recipes out there underestimate the time required for your dough to rise. The truth is, unless you have a proofing drawer (I don't), it takes as long as it takes. For each proofing step, your dough should double. This is is the only way to have soft fluffy bread. Yeast needs warmth. I have found that covering the bowl with plastic wrap and leaving it to rise in a microwave (turned off, of course) that has a cup of hot water in the corner provides a warm environment and my dough doubles in about 1 hour this way. To get a rise in half the time or less, I use the oven for proofing method. To do this, I turn my oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Place my dough in a heat safe container, cover with a moist towel and set in the oven. I also leave the oven door cracked open. I love this method for my second proof because the rolls are already in a ready to bake pan. You have the option to keep the oven door closed if you turn off the oven after 2 minutes. Proofing takes about 30 mins with the oven method.
Get this Recipe Ready in Time for Breakfast: Yes you can have this ready in time for even an early breakfast by doing most of the prep work the night before. You can do most of the steps and stop right before the second proof. When your rolls are cut and arranged in the baking pan, cover baking pan with plastic wrap (make sure you have a tight seal) and place in the fridge overnight. This basically is like hitting the pause button. The yeast will not rise in the fridge.
At this point, all you need is about 45 minutes to 1 hour in the morning to complete the second proof and baking process. Pretty neat! To complete the second proof in the morning, use the oven method I described above.
For the Dough:
1 cup milk
1/3 cup salted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/4 cups flour (Can use up to 3 1/2 cups)
1/4 ounce package of yeast
For the Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (To pour over the rolls after the second rise)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm milk. Ensure that the milk is between 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Overheating will kill the yeast.
2. Heat other 1/2 cup milk in a saucepan with the sugar, butter, and salt to dissolve and combine the ingredients. Don't let it overheat or boil. Then take off the stove, stir with a whisk to cool it a bit. Transfer to a large plastic mixing bowl. Add the egg and mix it in. The mixture should not be hot enough to denature the egg. Adding the egg also helps cool the mixture to a temperature safe enough to add the yeast mixture from step #1.
3. Add the dissolved yeast to the mixture from the step above. Before adding the dissolved yeast from step #1, ensure that the mixture from step #2 is at a temperature below 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Next add the flour. Initially add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix for about 5 mins. then transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface for kneading.
5. Knead for about 10 mins. You know you are done when your dough holds its integrity and does not stick to everything. You will need to add flour to the surface of the dough and the kneading surface as you knead. Use the rest of the remaining flour but only as little of it as you absolutely need. The easy mistake to make is adding to much flour. Be patient, the dough will stick to everything initially but will get better as you knead it.
6. Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray. Transfer your dough to this bowl. I then swirl it around to coat the dough surface with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and proof in a warm place till your dough doubles in size.
Tips to get a Good Rise: Yeast needs warmth to grow. I have found that covering the bowl with plastic wrap and leaving it to rise in a microwave (turned off, of course) that has a cup of hot water in the corner provides a warm moist environment and my dough doubles in about 1 hour this way. To get a faster rise, use the oven proofing method. To do this, I turn my oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Place my dough in a heat safe container, cover with a moist towel and set in the oven. I also leave the oven door cracked open. You have the option to keep the oven door closed if you turn off the oven after 2 minutes. Proofing takes about 30 mins or less with the oven method.
7. Make the filling by mixing all the filling ingredients in a bowl with a spatula.
8. After the first proof, take your dough out and place on a floured surface. Punch the middle of your dough to flatten. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that is roughly 24 x 12 inches in dimension. Spread the filling over the dough and roll tightly, starting from the long side of the rectangle.
9. Spray a 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish with cooking spray. Cut the cinnamon roll into 15 pieces and place evenly spaced in the pan.
10. Do a second proof using any of the methods described above. At this point you can also refrigerate and continue baking in the morning as described at the beginning of this post. You are ready to bake when the rolls double in size.
11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
12. Pour the heavy whipping cream over each roll and let it drizzle over the sides and into the pan as seen in the picture.
13. Bake for 20 minutes. The rolls are ready when they are golden brown on the top.
14. Make the frosting while the rolls are baking. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream together the cream cheese and frosting. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
15. When your rolls are out of the oven, cover generously with frosting and enjoy.