How to make frosted cinnamon rolls at home
Forget those ready-made rolls and opt for the real thing
Being a daily consumer of cinnamon, you'd think that I would've been eating cinnamon rolls for a long time. But up until the age of 14, I actually hadn't even heard of them. Sure, there are pain aux raisins and Chelsea buns aplenty in local bakeries in the U.K., but neither is as good as a cinnamon roll in my opinion.
After trying a famous "American" cinnamon roll at a tiny shop near Oxford Street (it was the only one in London at that time), I dedicated myself to finding a way to make them at home. I used countless recipes, searching for that pillowy texture and gooey center coil. Each time, there were problems: the bread was too heavy, the filling seeped out, there wasn't enough cinnamon.
After a lot of experimentation, I found my favorite recipe — and I slathered the finished rolls with cream cheese frosting for a super decadent finish.
I also picked up one of my favorite tips during my research, which is to use floss or string to cut the dough (it's complicated to explain, so I've included photos of the process below). This process means that even pressure is applied in all directions on the log of dough so the rolls don't get squished when you cut them. (The same method can also be used for cutting Swiss roll cakes neatly.) It's not really necessary, but it does make for very photogenic rolls.
Makes 9 to 10 rolls
For the dough:
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup boiling water
One (1/2 ounce) packet active dried yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 cups white bread flour, plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the filling and frosting:
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or white bread flour
1/3 plus 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the bread dough: In a medium bowl combine the milk and boiling water. Stir them together and then add in the yeast along with one teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and set aside for five minutes.
Meanwhile place the flours, remaining granulated sugar, salt, vegetable oil, and eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer. (If you don't have a stand mixer, just use a large bowl.)
Pour in the milk mixture and, using the dough hook attachment, mix everything together. Let the mixer knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and quite sticky. (If you don't have a stand mixer, stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon or your hands until it comes together, then knead it on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth.)
Lift the dough out of the bowl and pour some oil into the bowl to grease it. Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, then leave it in a warm place until doubled in size, about one to two hours.
Make the filling: In a small bowl stir together the dark brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and flour. Set aside.
Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle it with some more flour, then roll it into a 20- x 12-inch rectangle.
Spread the 1/3 cup of softened butter all over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle over the cinnamon mixture.
Starting at the long edge (20-inch edge) of the rectangle, roll the dough up tightly into a long log. Cut off the ends so you have a roughly 18-inch log, then score along the dough every two inches so that you can see where you'll be cutting to make nine cinnamon rolls.
Using either a thread or unflavored dental floss (as shown in the photos) or a sharp knife, cut the dough into nine pieces.
Place the rolls cut side-down into a large greased tray. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and leave the rolls somewhere warm to rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350° F. When the rolls have risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake them for 20 to 30 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Leave them to cool before frosting.
Make the frosting by creaming together the 1/4 cup of softened butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread the frosting all over the cooled rolls.
More from Food52...