Cinnamon rolls, anybody? These cinnamon rolls are super soft and floofy, topped with a cream cheese-sour cream frosting. They’re great warm, and they’re not that sweet!
Finding the right ratio
So I actually made these rolls more than a couple of times to really get the right proportion of ingredients. I can be very particular about the texture of my cinnamon rolls because I prefer it when I can eat them the next day and not be chewing on tough bread. After several sessions of recipe-testing, I finally got it! They’re so tender, has just the right amount of sweetness, AND they’re great even after a day or two as long as you microwave them for 20 seconds prior to eating.
Working with the dough
Testing this cinnamon roll recipe is actually the first time I’ve committed to working with bread dough. I’ve always thought making any type of bread dough was intimidating, and to be honest, it is still kinda is. BUT, the more I forced myself to just keep trying, the easier it got and the more confident I became. With these cinnamon rolls in particular, I had to trust that I got the right ratios of dry and wet ingredients, and to not overly correct with flour if the dough is still wet. According to a lot of bakers, wet dough is good for tender rolls, so even if it feels wrong, you just kinda have to go with it and trust that it’s going to be great!
It was also really a timesaver to use the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer. Doing this is quicker and easier than kneading the dough by hand the entire time. However, I do think it’s important to knead the dough by hand after it’s already gone through the dough hook. Feeling the dough with your hands and checking its elasticity, etc., is the best way to know that your dough has the right texture.
If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know by now that I don’t like desserts that are too sweet. Part of why I created this blog is to show other home bakers that you can cut the sugar without compromising deliciousness. So for the frosting, I decided to mix the cream cheese with a bit of sour cream to counterbalance the sweetness. And to be honest, the final result is perfectly sweet enough for everyone who have tried my cinnamon rolls.
Tools you’ll need
- 520 all-purpose flour
- 96 g white sugar
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 75 g unsalted butter, softened
- 211 g warm milk
- 7 g instant yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 112 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 170 g brown sugar
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
- 100 g powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir a little bit and then let it sit there for 10 minutes. The yeast mixture should get a bit bubbly once activated.
- In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix together the flour, yeast-milk mixture, eggs, and salt on medium speed.
- Once everything has been mostly incorporated, raise the speed to medium high (about 8 on the KitchenAid). Add the softened butter in four batches, only adding the next knob of butter once you see that the previous knob has been incorporated into the dough. Once all butter has been mixed in, keep the mixer kneading until it forms some sort of sticky ball.
- On a clean and large floured flat surface, carefully transfer the dough ball so you can finish the kneading by hand. To knead, press the heel of your palm onto the dough, pushing and stretching it forward. I like to alternate between hands, pushing the dough diagonally in either direction. Keep a small measuring cup with some flour in it just in case you need to add a bit more as you knead. You're only going to add more if the dough is too sticky to knead*. Keep kneading until the dough springs back when you press on it with your finger. Form it into a nice smooth ball and put it back in the bowl, covered, to proof (or rest) for 2 hours**.
- While the dough proves, combine the softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl until the filling is fairly homogenous. I find that combining the filling ingredients makes it so much easier to spread on the dough.
- Once the dough is done proving, you should see that it has doubled in size. Put it back on the floured flat surface and knock out some of the air with your fist. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a large rectangle***, about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick, depending on how "bread-y" you want the rolls to be. Spread the filling evenly with a silicone spatula onto the flat dough, making sure the edges are also covered.
- Carefully roll the dough into itself from the longest side of the rectangle, keeping the spirals as tight as possible. Also, make sure that as you roll, the whole dough "log" is not unnecessarily thick on just the middle; keep the log thickness as even as possible. Then, divide the dough log into 12 equal parts**** and place them in a 9x13 baking dish. Let it proof 45 minutes.
- In a 350 degree oven, bake the rolls for 30 minutes. The top should be golden brown. After baking, let it cool on the counter.
- While the cinnamon rolls cool, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste (if you opted to use it).
- Once the rolls have cooled down, top them off with your frosting. I highly recommend using ALL of the frosting 🙂 Enjoy!
*Use the flour sparingly! I promise that even though the dough feels wet, that's how it's supposed to be! This is important in order to get that fluffiness in the rolls.
**2 hours seems like a long time, but don't be impatient! If it doesn't proof for the whole 2 hours, your cinnamon rolls won't be as soft and fluffy.
***I never really measured the dimensions of the rectangle. I kinda just eyeballed it to see if it will yield 12 buns once rolled up.
****You can use a knife if you want, but I find that it's easier to use floss to cut through the rolls to minimize squishing those beautiful spirals.
These are good for up to 3 days. If you're not eating them right away, I'll try not to judge you, BUT if you're saving for them for the next day, just make sure to microwave it for 20 seconds before consuming 🙂