When I embarked on my baking adventure two decades ago, one of the main ingredients of all my recipes was undoubtedly a ready made cake mix; sometimes accompanied by ready made frosting.
As my love for baking grew, along with my confidence in the kitchen, I slowly dropped the Pillsbury cake mix and moved on to flour, sugar, salt and baking powder; simple cakes, layered cakes; brownies. Then came the cheesecake (here’s my favorite basic cheesecake recipe!) And finally it was time to delve into the world of yeast dough. Because without yeast dough there’s no cinnamon rolls.
And life without cinnamon rolls is, well, not as fragrant, aromatic and colorful.
Now here’s the odd thing. The internet is full of cinnamon roll recipes. Any self respecting food blogger has at least one cinnamon roll recipe to their name. And while I consider myself a fairly experienced baker, I could not get one recipe to work for me. Not one!
The dough didn’t rise; the dough was too sticky; too runny; too little. The cinnamon and sugar mixture was too much; the butter dripped everywhere. I have no idea how my quest for cinnamon rolls managed to yield blow after blow after blow. And the thing with cinnamon rolls (or any yeast dough really) is that it takes so long to execute a recipe from start to finish that if it eventually flops it kind of really sucks.
So I tinkered away in my kitchen and finally came up with, what I believe is a flop free version of this iconic, well loved Swedish (I believe that is the country of origin) sweet bun. And it’s actually quite simple!
Start by adding one packet of active dry yeast to one cup of lukewarm milk. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes until little frothy bubbles appear on the surface. This is true for any yeast dough you’re planning on making. Yeast loves sugar which milk of course contains; but just in case the bubbling isn’t happening for you (and it doesn’t always have to), throw in a little bit of sugar, give it a stir and watch the yeast get happy.
Next, throw in one lightly beaten egg, half a cup sugar (minus whatever sugar you may have fed your yeast in the previous step), ¼ cup melted butter, ¼ cup vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and 4 ½ cups flour. Using the dough hook on your mixer (and this is one of the reasons I really really love my KitchenAid), knead the dough for 5-7 minutes on medium-low speed.
When the dough is ready it will literally look like playdoh. If it’s sticky or runny add more flour. Keep adding until you get a totally smooth, non sticky dough. I learned the hard way that sticky dough can’t be rolled out or rolled up (not to mention it’s next to impossible to get it off surfaces and kitchen towels). When your dough looks like the the image below, remove it from the bowl, grease the bowl lightly and toss the dough back in.
Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and keep in a warm place until the dough roughly doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough to get the extra air out, lay out on a flat surface and roll it out into a large rectangle about ½” thickness.
Spread melted butter over the surface using a brush and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon before the butter decides to drip off the sides of the dough!
Roll up the dough tightly and pinch the edges to close to make sure the contents won’t start coming out. Using a sharp knife or dental floss cut the roll into 12 even pieces.
Arrange the rolls, leaving some space between them, in a greased baking pan.
Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 190C/374F.
Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.
Once they are out of the oven, it’s a good time to make some cream cheese frosting. In my world, everything tastes better with cream cheese frosting! Simply combine 1 stick butter at room temperature with ¼ cup cream cheese and 1 ½ cups powdered sugar.
And now it’s time to… dig in!
Store your leftover (ha ha) cinnamon rolls in the fridge if frosted. Otherwise keep them in an airtight container and frost individually when you’re ready to treat yourself to a little piece of heaven with your afternoon coffee or as a special treat for the kids!
Deliciously Effortless Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls
Active time: 25 mins
Rising time: 1.5 h
Total time start to finish: 2h 15mins
1 cup warm milk
7gr instant dry yeast (1 packet)
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup vegetable oi
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp salt
4 ½ -5 cups all purpose flour
¾ butter stick, melted (90gr)
90gr white sugar
90gr brown sugar
In a large bowl, combine milk and active dry yeast. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface. Add the butter, vegetable oil, sugar, salt and flour to the bowl. Using the dough hook on your mixer, knead 5-7 minutes on medium low speed until dough is elastic enough and pulls away from your fingers when pinched. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour and keep kneading until it is no longer sticky.
Remove dough from bowl, grease the bowl lightly and return dough back to the bowl. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and keep in a warm place until dough doubles in size; about an hour.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, about ½” (1.5cm) thickness. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with white and brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Roll up the dough tightly and pinch sides to close. With a sharp knife, or dental floss, cut roll into 12 even slices. Place slices in lightly greased pan, cover with a towel and let the dough rise for another 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 190C/374F.
Place cinnamon rolls into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until they look golden brown on the surface. Remove pan from the oven and let the cinnamon rolls cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Cream cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, at room temperature (115gr)
57gr cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Frost the cinnamon rolls.
Frosted cinnamon rolls keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.