A Solid Cinnamon Roll Recipe That Will Serve You Well

Onward, young soldier. Venture forth into the great wide world, and bring this cinnamon roll recipe with you. 

I've been thinking a lot about going back to basics lately. I mean, I love a good franken-food creation like anyone else: bacon-or-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-or-maybe-both-stuffed-cinnamon rolls; Pop-tarts ice cream sandwiches; cookie cake pie. 

But I keep coming back to the idea of "learn the rules before you break them". I'm guilty oftentimes of doing just the opposite, getting bored with the rules and then breaking them instead of following along.

Maybe I'm just getting mature or old, but something about honing in on the basics is really quite compelling to me recently. Like, instead of cookie-stuffed funfetti cake, how about refining the perfect butter cake recipe? Or instead of tricked out morning rolls, just figuring out how to make a nice, solid cinnamon roll?

This is a nice, solid cinnamon roll recipe. There's nothing particularly innovative about it. I forget where I found it first, but it's a recipe for sticky buns that I adapted into a cinnamon roll creation. 

These buns are slightly feathery but with enough substance so that you don't feel like you're eating air (I like a hearty cinnamon roll!). They have just enough yeasty flavor to give them an interesting flavor, but not so much that they taste like bread. 

They're actually so good that they don't need glaze.

JUST KIDDING! OF COURSE THEY NEED GLAZE! 

The glaze is the simplest and best part: they have the easiest but most effective glaze topping, which elevates the cinnamon-sugar stuffed sweeties into OMG addictive territory.

Everyone needs a good cinnamon roll recipe. This is mine. Maybe yours, too? 

Cinnamon Rolls 

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 2 ½ hours rising times Cook time: 30 minutes / Yield: 16 buns / Printable version here

BUNS:

  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (0.25 ounces) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

Glaze

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • pinch salt 
  • cream (amount can vary) 
  1. Combine the milk, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in the melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt, and mix until combined.
  4. Continue adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing after each new addition. Keep on adding the flour until the dough becomes thick and while sticky, easy to handle with oiled hands.
  5. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes by hand, slightly less using a dough hook.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a cloth; set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  7. Generously grease two round cake pans. Set to the side.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and roll out each portion into a long, skinny rectangle, about 14 by 6 inches.
  9. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  10. Brush the entire surfaces of the rolled-out dough with the remaining melted butter, and then sprinkle each portion evenly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll up each rectangle into a roll. Cut each long roll into 8 equal parts. Place one roll in the center of the caramel-lined pan, and place the remaining rolls in a circle around it. Let the rolls rise again until roughly doubled (they will fill out the pan nicely), about 30 minutes.
  11. Position a rack in the middle position of the oven, and one in the lower position. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack, to catch any drips when you bake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Bake the pans of buns side by side for 25-30 minutes, rotating at the 15 minute mark, or until golden and cooked through. Once you remove them from the oven, place the pans on a wire rack and make your glaze.
  13. In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and salt. Begin adding cream, starting with 1/4 cup, and then continuing to add it, whisking the mixture, until the sugar has been absorbed and the liquid is thick but pourable. I apologize, but I never measure how much cream I add, I just keep on mixing until it reaches the right consistency. If you realize you added too much cream, don't panic, just add a little more sugar. You can also stir in a little vanilla extract if you like. 

Pour the glaze over the rolls. I like to enjoy at least one while still warm. 

What's your favorite cinnamon roll recipe?