Cinnamon rolls are that one dessert that I feel like takes you to that happy place in your life. Where every good memory comes to mind as you bite into each fluffy layer. Allow me to set the scene here. The first snow has just fallen and the skies have a slight bluish hue. You’re all snuggled by the fire with a warm blanket and you have a mug of hot chocolate and a fresh from the oven,warm, gooey, caramelized cinnamon roll with a tangy cream cheese frosting adds that perfect topping to compliment the filling. Life is good!
If you haven’t ever made cinnamon rolls, now is the perfect time to start. These cinnamon rolls are super easy and just take barely over an hour to make. No need to wait overnight, then a few hours the nest day. You can enjoy these almost right away.
The ingredients don’t differ too much from one recipe to another. The basics are about the same as far as the filling goes. Light brown sugar, softened butter and cinnamon. I like to add a touch of orange zest to pull out the flavor on the cinnamon. It adds that holiday warmth and reminds me when I used to get oranges in my stocking for Christmas.
The dough for this recipe happens to be similar to the one I shared last week for rolls. I mentioned that it was an very versatile dough. Well, I’m using it for these cinnamon rolls. I’ve simply switched out the olive oil for canola oil for a lighter flavor.
Prep all of your ingredients for the dough and the filling. Set the filling aside while you work on the dough. To make the dough, place the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer for two minutes. With the mixer turned off, add the canola oil, then with the mixer on low, add the hot water slowly. Mix for 5 minutes. Turn out the dough on a smooth surface and shape into a ball. Divide the dough in half and work on one at a time. Roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle measuring about 15×20.
I like to roll it out pretty thin and as evenly as possible, as you can see in the picture below.
Using the softened butter (by softened I mean almost a whipped consistency), spread the butter using a spatula or a pastry brush. Spread the butter evenly, leaving a 1 inch border on each end (the one closet to you and furthest away from you).
Sprinkle half of the brown sugar on top of the butter, then half of the cinnamon. Then sprinkle half of the orange zest. Now you’re ready to roll up the dough.
Begin to roll the end closest to you and make sure you roll as tightly as possible. This will ensure that no pockets form and that your filling doesn’t fall out. Give the dough a roll over the seam, so the seam presses down a bit, then press the seam lightly so it doesn’t open up.
Pre-mark 7 cuts in the dough to make sure you have 8 equal pieces. I like to use a serrated bread knife to cut the dough. That old trick of using floss to cut the dough isn’t my favorite. But if it works for you, you can do that as well. Repeat with remaining dough.
Place each roll in a 9″ round cake pan. Or you can cut them a wee bit smaller to make 9 to fit in a square brownie pan. Cover with a light towel and let rise in a warm space for 25-30 minutes. I like to place mine in the oven to rise. I turn on the Keep Warm setting for about 5 minutes, then turn it off.
Bake rolls in your oven at 350 for 30 minutes. I like to have the tops golden brown and the inside soft and gooey. Let them cool for a few minutes before adding the frosting. If you add the topping too early, it will melt all over. You want it to melt a bit, but you also want to see a good layer of frosting.
For the cream cheese frosting, use 4 oz of softened cream cheese and 2 oz of softened, unsalted butter. Mix in the bowl of a stand mixer until well blended. About 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups + 6 T of powdered sugar that has been sifted to the bowl. Mix until completely combined. Ad 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and mix a bit more. Using a spatula, spread the cream cheese frosting over the cinnamon rolls.
And you must definitely eat them like immediately. And then you’ll be in gooey, warm cinnamon roll heaven.