Ah. It’s Christmas. My absolute favorite time of the year. I love everything about it. Each year, it’s tradition that I make my cinnamon rolls — a recipe that I’ve been playing with for years — and I think I’ve perfected it! This year, I made five batches of these babies and wrapped them up as gifts.
These are my favorite treat. Ooey, gooey, soft and topped with my beautiful vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Although a time-consuming and strenuous process, it’s so worth all the hard work.
What you’ll need:
3/4 cup warm whole milk (heated in microwave for about :45)
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2 – 5 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 heap tsp. Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp. whole milk (if needed to loosen icing)
How you’ll do it:
1) In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add warmed milk, dry active yeast and 1 tbsp. of granulated sugar and stir. Let stand to proof for about 5-7 minutes or until the yeast becomes bubbly and activated.
2) Once the yeast has been activated, add remaining sugar, salt, eggs, milk and oil. Stir on medium speed until the mixture is evenly combined. Then add two cups of flour and mix on low speed until everything has been incorporated.
3) Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments. Always start the mixer on low until flour is mostly incorporated then turn up to medium speed. This prevents flour from flying everywhere. Add enough flour until the dough forms into a nice smooth ball. The dough should be tacky to touch, but not wet.
4) Once the dough has reached this point, turn the mixer on high and let the dough knead for 5 minutes.
5) Transfer the dough into a large, well-oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm spot to proof. Let it the dough sit until it has doubled in size. This should take 1-2 hours depending on how warm your home is.
6) Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. The dough itself should be about 1/4 inch thick.
7) In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugars, cinnamon and cornstarch.
8) With a small offset spatula or your hands, evenly distribute the softened butter over the dough. Leave about 1/2 inch unbuttered (this prevents sugar overflow).
8) Once the butter has been spread, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture all over the dough and press the sugar lightly into the butter.
9) Tightly roll the dough starting at the end closer to you and finishing at the end further from you. Make sure you roll the dough very tightly!
10) Once the dough is rolled up, cut the dough into 8 even pieces. I usually eyeball.
11) Place the cinnamon rolls into a 9×13 buttered baking dish, cover with a kitchen towel and let proof for an additional 45 minutes.
12) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
13) Remove the kitchen towel and bake the cinnamon rolls in the middle rack for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are perfectly browned
14) When the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the icing. In a medium bowl, add butter and cream cheese and beat with a handheld mixer until smooth and creamy.
15) Add the vanilla paste and mix. Then add the powdered sugar and mix on medium until the sugar has been incorporated. If the icing is too thick, add a tbsp. or two of milk to loosen it up. Once the icing has reached this stage, turn the mixer on high until the icing becomes fluffy and pale.
16) Once the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, ice them immediately so the hot rolls soak up all the sugary goodness.
17) Let the rolls cool for about 10 minute and enjoy! Always serve them warm, preferably with a cup of black coffee or whole milk 🙂