Cinnamon rolls are such a fun breakfast treat – I love the sticky and savory dough combined with the cinnamon, and of course let’s not forget the cream cheese frosting! This giant cinnamon roll recipe is my particular favorite since once finished it takes up a WHOLE pie plate! The presentation is super fun, and I love to make it for holiday brunches and other special occasions. This year it was whipped up for Father’s Day breakfast, and the whole family was so happy I made it!
For the cinnamon roll:
- 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (equivalent of 1 packet)
- 3/4 cup whole milk (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the cream cheese frosting:
- one 8oz package of cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
To make the dough: in a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt and yeast, and set aside. In a separate bowl that is microwave safe, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm to touch (not too hot!). Temperature is important on this one, so I recommend using a kitchen thermometer to make sure your mixture is ideal for the yeast, since if too cold it won’t activate and too hot can kill it. 110 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal – if you go past that you can simply let the bowl sit for a little until cooled to 110. Pour the warm milk/butter mixture into the dry ingredients, and add the egg. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (if you don’t have one, simply mix by hand with a spatula), stir the mixture until a soft dough forms. You will be able to tell the dough is ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl – if it is sticky and you aren’t getting to that point, slowly add flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time until the mixture is ideal (maybe only 3-4 extra Tablespoons, maximum, and again only if needed).
Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and flour your hands as well. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, until when poked with your finger it slowly bounces back. Make sure to avoid sticking to the counter and your hands – I typically keep a 1/3 cup of flour next to my kneading space, just in case more is needed.
Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil or butter a bowl and place the dough in, covering with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 30 minutes at room temperature.
After 30 minutes has passed, make your filling by mixing your melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Remove your dough from the bowl and spread into a large rectangle, approximately 15 inches x 12 inches. Pour the filling evenly over the top of the dough, and spread the rest of the way out with a pastry brush (if you don’t have a pastry brush you can simply use your hands).
Grease a 9-inch round pie dish with butter or canola oil.
Now you shape your dough! Cut the dough across its latitude in 2-inch wide strips (see picture). This is easiest done with a pizza cutter, but don’t overly stress about the strips being perfect, it all gives the roll character! Roll your first strip and place in the center of the pie dish. Begin taking the additional strips and wrapping around the center piece until your dough has wrapped all the way around. Again, don’t worry about it being messy or uneven – there is thick frosting going on top and no one will know the difference after it is baked. The dough won’t take up the whole pie plate yet, so don’t worry about that either.
Re-use your plastic wrap and cover the roll in the pie dish, and allow to rise for an additional 1-2 hours. I really like to let my yeast do it’s thing, so I will typically err towards the 2-hour side (depending sometimes on how soon I plan to serve it), and I usually will put my oven on warm with the door cracked open and set my pie dish on the counter near it, so the dough is nice and warm and cozy during its last rise. You don’t HAVE to do this, but I do recommend it during cooler times of year, or if you want a faster/more dramatic rise.
Once you are satisfied with your rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30-35 minutes. You want your roll to look nice and golden brown, but not dark brown. If there are edges you notice browning too quickly, you can create a foil tent (make sure there is more room for the dough to grow underneath) to cover while it continues to bake. Remove the roll and allow it to cool completely before frosting.
Once cooled, it is time to make your frosting. Using a stand mixer whip your room temperature cream cheese and butter until fluffy. A little at a time, add your powdered sugar on low – if you add too much at once or mix on high, you will likely send the sugar flying out of your bowl and all over yourself and the walls! Once all the sugar is combined, add your vanilla and salt with one last good whisk. Spread evenly over the top and enjoy!
Since I am not a morning person and this dough needs a minimum of an hour and a half of rise time, I typically will make it the night before and re-heat and serve as breakfast/brunch in the morning. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, and I promise your friends and family will gobble it up!
Below I linked my stand mixer, bread hook, and kitchen thermometer – three things I use EVERY TIME I make this recipe! In general, I think a kitchen thermometer is an essential purchase for many reasons. First of all, if you bake with yeast it allows you to know your exact liquid temp when combining with the yeast, which is very picky and prefers a window right around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, not much above or below. Also, it is very necessary for cooking meats, particular large roasts, so you know they are cooked to temp but also without over-cooking and drying out. I bet we use our kitchen thermometer several times a week, if not, a day!
Thank you all for reading, and I really hope you save this one and try for a special occasion, since I know it is a special dish great for celebrating with loved ones! I mean, I guess you can totally make it for yourself and just dig in with a fork on your own, but it definitely is a shareable serving size. Enjoy!
X.O. – Abbey Co.
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