The Best Cinnamon Rolls
Today I bring you a recipe for the best cinnamon rolls. Because a promise is a promise. And in my cinnamon roll cookies post, I said quote: "Don't worry, an out-of-this-world cinnamon roll recipe will come - eventually."
Like I said, a promise is a promise. And these cinnamon rolls can easily be described as out-of-this-world. In fact, I think that description is alarmingly accurate.
Gosh, where do I even begin. These cinnamon rolls are soft. So, so soft. And fluffy. Incredibly fluffy. And doughy and buttery. Amazingly doughy and buttery. Ooh - and gooey. Gooey, sweet, cinnamon-y centers. With gooey, sweet, cinnamon-y slathers between each soft, fluffy, doughy, buttery layer of the cinnamon roll. Also, these cinnamon rolls are perfectly sweet. And are topped with a cream cheese frosting that tastes like vanilla ice cream. The same frosting I used for my coconut cupcakes, actually. Should I go on?
I've explained my love for cinnamon before, and I've informed you about my love for cinnamon rolls in particular. So I won't bore you with the details of my love. Just know that I love them. Or these. I love these cinnamon rolls. Because these are the best cinnamon rolls. This recipe creates the quintessential cinnamon roll, hands down. Or up. Hallelujah-exaltation style. Cuz that's what you'll do when you bite into one of these things.
I've had good cinnamon rolls in the past, but sometimes, good isn't good enough. At least when it comes to cinnamon rolls. So I went on a quest to find the best cinnamon rolls out there. I dedicated an entire Sunday a few weeks back to trying out multiple cinnamon roll recipes and combinations until I found a favorite.
After culling the recipes that looked the most promising subsequent to sifting through dozens and dozens, I tried out five of them. And from those five, I ended up with two semifinalists. And it was honestly so, so hard to pick a winner from those two. But after going back and forth and tasting (okay, I went a little further than just tasting) samples from both recipes and asking many different people their opinions, I finally settled on this recipe. This cinnamon roll recipe wins first place. At life.
And I've even made some changes to the final recipe that I settled on. Just to take it from perfect to perfecter.
I would like to note that I realize the cream cheese frosting on my cinnamon rolls looks a little messy. And it hides the natural beauty of the naked cinnamon roll. This is the result of not smearing the frosting on the rolls while they were still hot, which allows the frosting to seep into the rolls and also become glossy. I made the mistake of waiting until the rolls were already cool before slathering the frosting on them. In my defense, I was a little busy whipping up four other cinnamon roll recipes. So please learn from my mistake and smear the frosting on while the cinnamon rolls are still hot, k? Thanks.
One more note: this is a very large recipe. You may not even be able to fit all the cinnamon rolls on a very large cookie sheet. I placed most of mine on my biggest cookie sheet and then baked the few that I couldn't fit in another, smaller pan. Another option would be to divide the rolls between two 9x13 pans, or just halve the recipe to begin with. But I say, if you're already going through all the trouble of making these, make the whole recipe and then freeze half of the cinnamon rolls. And eat the other 12 rolls fresh, with friends. Or alone. I won't judge.
Of course, these cinnamon rolls are best warm, so serve them right after frosting. Or heat one up for a few minutes if you're having it the next day. That works too.
the best cinnamon rolls
Adapted from Oh Sweet Basil
Yield: about 2 dozen*
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
2 packets active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup oil
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7-8 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter, very soft
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or 4 tablespoons flour)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 cup confectioner's sugar
Heat the milk and water in the microwave (or on the stovetop) until warm. Pour into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour yeast and teaspoon sugar over the liquids and let mixture sit for 10 minutes and foam.
Add the eggs, oil, melted butter, sugar, and salt to yeast mixture and mix on low to combine.
Add in 7 cups of flour and mix on medium speed for a few minutes. If dough is too sticky, add up to 1 more cup flour, not more.
Form dough into ball and drop into a large oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, 1+ hours. Meanwhile, stir together the filling ingredients (excluding the butter).
Grease a very large cookie sheet or two 9x13 pans. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a very large rectangle that's a bit more than 1/4 inch thick.
Spread softened butter evenly all over dough, including edges. You can put the butter in the microwave for a few seconds till it gets to an almost melted stage to make the spreading easier. Sprinkle filling evenly on top of butter.
Roll dough up tightly, lengthwise. Use floss (slide under dough, then cross over on top making an 'x') or a sharp knife to slice dough into about 24 slices, each around 2 inches thick. Place slices onto prepared sheet/pan, spaced evenly apart (they can touch a little). Cover and let rise again in a warm spot till doubled, 1+ hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 20-22 minutes (not more!), until golden on top. Cool for 5 minutes (they should still be warm) and then spread frosting over the cinnamon rolls with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
*Note: Halve this recipe to make 12 rolls/one 9x13 inch pan of cinnamon rolls.
On a completely unrelated note, yep: