I think I have found the last Cinnamon Roll recipe I will ever need to try. I’ve been searching for a long time and I’ve tried several. In fact I posted a recipe on this blog not too long ago. But this recipe is exceptional. The dough was an absolute dream, smooth, sturdy, and elastic. I was worried at first because the dough seemed sticky, but I’m quickly learning that usually when I think a dough is too sticky to start it’s perfect after a good long first rise. A long rise may seem daunting, but think of all things you can do during that time. While waiting for this particular batch to rise I went shopping and had a slice of pizza at my new favorite pizza place, Hoboken (if I’m not going to make my own pizza at home, this is where I want to go!!). See how productive that time can be?
The other upside of this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time. I made these on Wednesday evening and froze them, Saturday night I set them out on the counter to defrost and rise. Makes me want to keep a batch in my freezer at all times, just for the those days when I need a cinnamon roll.
But the best part about these rolls is the final product. The roll itself is as close to perfect as the world will allow you to get. Texture, flavor, sweet to spicy ratio, it all gets a 10 in my book.
Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Handbook)
3/4 cup buttermilk, warm (you can warm this in the microwave at 50% power for 1 minute)
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 oz) butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Disclaimer – I’ve never followed a strict recipe when it comes to cream cheese frosting. I start with cream cheese and butter and I add sugar and other flavors to match whatever I am making the frosting for. Sometimes I add brown sugar sometimes I don’t. For these rolls this is flavor combination I came up with and I thought it went perfectly with the rolls. I taste along the way and work until I like the flavor and consistency. Please use this ingredient list as a guide and create your own perfect frosting.
1/2 Block (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp buttermilk
1-2 cups confectioners sugar (depending on how runny/stiff you like your frosting)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the warmed buttermilk and butter. In the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook), combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs. Run for 2 minutes until well combined, then increase the speed to medium and allow to knead for 10-15 minutes. If after a few minutes the dough continues to stick to the sides of the bowl add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until it stops sticking. The dough will still feel slightly sticky to the touch.
Remove the dough from the bowl and set aside on a lightly floured surface. Wipe out, then spray the mixing bowl with cooking spray, or rub lightly with oil, return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in a draft free warm place (I turn the light on in my oven and keep it in there with the door closed).
When the dough has doubled in size remove from the bowl and place on a clean floured surface. Knead with hands for 2-3 minutes and then allow to rest for 2 minutes (during this short rest combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl). After the short rest shape the dough into a rectangle then roll out to approximately 16 inches by 12 inches.
Spread the softened butter on the dough leaving 1/2 inch border all around. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the butter and use hands to lightly press the sugar into the butter.
Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight log. Once rolled, even out the log by pulling gently and patting in the edges.
Cut 1/2-1 inch off of each side of the log to even the ends. Then cut the log in half with a serrated knife. Cut each half into thirds and then each third in half, so you end up with 12 even rolls. (In the illustration below, red, then orange, then green)
Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by placing a sheet of fitted parchment paper in the bottom of dish and spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Place rolls in pan, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour. This is also the point where you can freeze the rolls. Just be sure to cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden on top and cooked through but not overly browned.
For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and buttermilk. Starting with a slow spead, add the brown sugar, confectioners sugar, and salt, and beat until well combined. Stir in the vanilla.
Add the frosting to the rolls while they are still warm so the gooey goodness starts to absorb into the rolls.