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Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls

These soft fluffy cinnamon rolls are bursting with cinnamon sugar and topped with a delicious vanilla bean cream cheese or mascarpone frosting - and I don't think there is a better way to start the day.


If you are like me, any recipe with yeast makes me nervous. It has been a goal of mine to get more comfortable using yeast in baking, and I'm so excited for this recipe to help us start using yeast more often and with confidence. Cinnamon rolls aren't something that typically top my list for sweets, but there is something about a warm and fresh cinnamon roll that just doesn't compare to anything else!


It was really fun testing this recipe to get the dough and frosting just right. I promise that these are soft and fluffy, buttery and sweet, and with patience they will come out so incredibly delicious - you may not want to share them.


After making these a few time there, I wanted to share some tips I think are extra important:

  • Make sure your butter is well softened. For both your dough and filling this is really important. If your butter is the right temperature and well softened, especially for spreading your filling, you will have a much easier time.

  • Trust the process. I was so worried every step of the way the first time I baked these, second guessing if the dough was proofed enough, or over proofed, or did I spread my filling the right way. Just remember, the end result is going to be a soft and delicious cinnamon sugar filled and creamy frosted delight! I promise there are so many more ways this recipe can go "right" than "wrong".

  • Enjoy them warm. Whether it's fresh baked, or reheated from the fridge or freezer, these are meant to be enjoyed when warm. I share guidance for reheating the rolls in case you have leftovers.

  • Baker's choice on cream cheese or mascarpone. When it comes to your frosting, this is something I leave to you. I've tried it with both cream cheese and mascarpone, and I have to say I love mascarpone the best. Mascarpone has a more mild creamy taste, but if you like a classic cream cheese frosting flavor then go with that!


To make your dough you'll follow a few steps, and really your mixer will do a lot of the hard work. First into your stand mixer you'll activate your dry active yeast with warm milk and sugar. I like to use a food thermometer for this to be sure my milk is the right temperature but you can definitely do it without. You'll then add in the rest of your dough ingredients in phases and mix with your paddle attachment quickly until a rough dough forms like the first picture below. Then, you'll switch to your dough hook and knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes. I like to check around 6 minutes and if the dough is super sticky (some sticking to the bottom is completely normal) you can add another tablespoon or two of all purpose flour. In the end, you'll know it's done if you poke the dough and it sort of unsticks and snaps back from a clean and dry fingertip. Finally you'll gently transfer your dough into your greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and you'll let it rise until it has doubled in size.



Once your dough has gone through its first proof, you'll remove it from your bowl and place onto a floured surface and roll it out to a 9 x 14 inch rectangle. Then you'll spread your softened butter across the top. I like to first use a spatula or spoon to manually soften my room temperature butter, almost whipping it a bit, to make sure it's easy to spread. Next comes the cinnamon sugar filling. After you sprinkle it you'll gently pat it down to secure it.



Finally it's time to roll and shape your cinnamon rolls. Gently lift from the long side (the 14 inch side) and tightly roll your dough into a log. Ensuring the seam is on the bottom of the log, use a sharp knife to cut off about a quarter inch on each end using a back and forth motion to cut. Then, measure out your 9 cinnamon rolls, each should be about an inch and a half. I like to score first making marks across the log so I'll know where to cut. When you place the rolls into your lined square pan, you can take the "tail" or end of your cinnamon roll and gently tuck it underneath (you can see this in the photos below). This will help to ensure they don't separate or burst open when baking.


You'll cover your cinnamon rolls again for a little less time this round for your final proof. When they're ready your rolls should be touching one another. Then it's time to bake! Your rolls are ready when they're lightly golden on the top and you want to frost your rolls when they're still warm - about 10 or 15 minutes after they leave the oven. I used vanilla bean in my frosting because I think it gives not only a special flavor but look too. Vanilla extract will work great here too though so use whatever you have on hand.



My last note for now is on something I'll add to this recipe soon. I know it's tough to make these for breakfast unless you wake up VERY early as there are a number of steps, so I do plan to test this recipe out with an overnight option soon, so that you can start the process the day before. Stay tuned!


Ingredients:

Cinnamon roll dough

  • 3/4 cup 2% or whole milk

  • 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 24g

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature* 57g

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar 48g 

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour 210g

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 150g

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Neutral oil (for greasing a large bowl)


Filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature* 57g

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar 48g

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 48g

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon 


Frosting

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature* 28g

  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) cream cheese or mascarpone, room temperature* 56g

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar 90g

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean


*Ensure your butter and cream cheese/mascarpone is soft to the touch, especially for the filling and frosting.


Total time: 4-5 hours

Prep time: 30-45 minutes

Bake time: 22-26 minutes

Proof time: 2-3 hours

Servings: 9 cinnamon rolls


Equipment:

  • 9x9in square pan

  • Stand mixer with paddle and hook attachments

  • Rubber or wooden spatula

  • Rolling pin

  • Offset spatula or flat tool for spreading

  • Parchment paper

  • Sharp knife

  • Other tools: medium and large bowls, plastic wrap, clean towel, food thermometer, measuring tape, bowls, whisk


Cooking instructions:

Make your cinnamon roll dough. Warm your milk in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, getting it to about 100-110 degrees. It should feel warm, not hot.


Into your mixer with the paddle attachment, add your warm milk, yeast and granulated sugar. Mix for a few seconds and let sit for 5-10 minutes until your yeast blooms - it should look foamy.


Add in your soft room temperature butter, light brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract and mix on a medium speed until mostly combined for about a minute. Don't worry about your butter fully mixing in.


In a separate bowl, combine both flours and salt. Add in about half of your dry ingredients into your mixer and turn your mixer on at the lowest speed until your ingredients are just combined. Add in the rest of your flour mixture and mix at a low speed for another 30 seconds until a shaggy dough forms.


Scrape the sides of your bowl and your paddle attachment and then replace with your hook attachment. Turn your mixer on at a medium speed and leave to knead for about 8 minutes. Check at 6 minutes and if your mixture is too sticky (a little sticking to the bottom of your bowl is completely normal) you can add in 1-2 extra tablespoons of all purpose flour.


Once your dough ball has formed, add your dough into a large, greased bowl - the bowl should be at least double the size of your dough. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and top with a towel. Leave to proof for about an hour and a half or until your dough nearly doubles in size. Know that the temperature in your space will impact the timing (if it's warm it may take less time, and if it's cool it may take longer).


Roll and shape your dough. When your dough is almost fully proofed, get your filling ready. Ensure you have softened butter ready to go - your finger should press in very easily, I use a spoon or spatula to lightly whip the butter and ensure it's spreadable. In a bowl, combine your light and dark brown sugar and cinnamon.


Onto a floured surface (use all purpose), add your dough and gently shape it into a rectangle. Sprinkle some additional flour on top and roll out your dough to a 9 inch x 14 inch rectangle.


Spread your softened butter across the top of your dough and then sprinkle your cinnamon sugar mixture evenly on top. Gently press your sugar mixture into your butter. Then, lifting from the 14 inch side, tightly roll your dough forming a 14 inch log. Use a sharp knife with a back and forth seesawing motion to cut 9 rolls about 1 1/2 inch thick discarding the very ends of your dough log (about a quarter inch on each end).


Place your shaped cinnamon rolls spaced out into a lined square pan in three rows of three. I like to tuck the "tail" end of the cinnamon rolls underneath when I put them into my pan. Cover your pan with plastic wrap and top with a towel again and let your rolls proof a second time until they are puffy and touching one another. This should take between 45 minutes and an hour.


Bake and frost your rolls. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake your cinnamon rolls for 22-25 minutes until they are lightly golden. You don't want to over bake them.


While your rolls are cooling just slightly, make your frosting. You can do this by hand with a whisk or using a stand or hand mixer. Mix your room temperature cream cheese or mascarpone and butter together until completely smooth. Add in your powdered sugar and vanilla beans or extract. Continue to mix until fully combined. Spread onto your warm cinnamon rolls (about 10-15 minutes after they come out of the oven), slice in and enjoy!


You can store your cinnamon rolls in the fridge for a few days or wrap individually and freeze. To enjoy again bring them to room temperature and then warm them up quickly in the microwave - about 10 to 15 seconds. Of course nothing beats fresh baked, but they really do taste delicious reheated too!


Carb and serving info: 

Carbs for full recipe: 553

Servings: 9 rolls

Carbs per serving: 60**


**Accounts for discarding the ends


Carbs in dough: 359

Carbs in filling: 100

Carbs in frosting: 94


Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.

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