It’s October and once again, I’m asking myself where the time has gone. I’ve already been in school for over a month now and we are starting to prepare for midterms soon. Despite it, October is one of my favorite months. Usually, that means layering up, not looking too weird with a fuzzy scarf or vest or pea coat. However, I’m in Southern California where it seems as if summer wants to extend her stay. To bring in some kind of fall, I decided to make a batch of cinnamon rolls for my friends that are coming over later. I remember the first time I tried making cinnamon rolls…it was a complete flop. The yeast was either already expired to begin with or I used milk that was too hot, and thus, the rolls did not rise. They came out to be these tiny one inch circular hard biscuits that had a swirl of cinnamon brown sugar inside. Since then, I have told myself no more. Until now. A while ago, I found the absolute best Monkey Bread recipe. It tastes just like cinnamon rolls, so I figured it would be perfect to use.
While this dough is probably the easiest anyone can ever make, it does take patience. And time. LOTS of time. You want to allow enough time for the dough to properly rise, for the needed reactions to take place, for the gluten to be able to rest, all that science-y chemistry stuff.
To begin, make the dough. Combine the milk, water, and butter into a glass pyrex cup. As it is heated, the milk and water will begin to melt the butter. Microwave until the liquids reach 110 degrees, or just slightly warm to the touch. Once it reaches that temperature, add in the sugar and yeast and stir until it is completely dissolved.
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment, measure in the flour and the salt. On low speed, slowly add in the milk mixture. Once it is all mixed in, turn it on high and beat until it comes together, about three minutes. The dough should be sticky, but not too wet where it cannot be managed. If it is too sticky, add in more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time.
Turn the dough out into a lightly greased (with butter or oil) bowl and cover with saran wrap. Set it in a warm area of the house or outside if its hot and allow it to double in size. I allowed mine to rise for about two hours.
Once it has doubled and you are ready to use, punch it down and roll it out onto a floured surface. You can see the bubbles that have been released from the yeast.
Roll it out into as even of a rectangle as possible. Make sure the dough is not sticking too much to the counter otherwise it will be hard to roll up.
I use the rolling pin to almost flatten one of the long edges. This way, It will be able to seal up each roll without too much of a noticeable seam.
After I roll it out, I give it a little time to rest as I make the filling. Simply melt the butter in a bowl and whisk in the cinnamon and brown sugar. Using an offset spatula, spread it out into an even layer of the cinnamon mixture onto the dough. Get every edge except the one that has the thinner border.
Slowly begin to roll up the dough, making sure to keep it tightly rolled up as you go until you get a log. To slice the cinnamon rolls, you can cut it in half, line it up, and cut them in half then in half again. That will give you eight nice sized pieces.
Line them up into a baking dish. I’m using my cast iron to bake it in.
Leave enough space between each one so that it has room for the dough to spread out and proof during its second rise.
Place it back in a warm area and allow the dough to rise one more time for another hour. You will notice it to be ready when it has a puffed appearance.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Make sure you turn the pan halfway to ensure even baking. As it’s baking, whip up the maple cream cheese frosting in a stand mixer. Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth, then slowly add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup.
When the rolls have finished baking, remove from the oven and immediately spread the frosting over the rolls. This will allow the frosting to melt and fall into every crevice of dish.
These rolls are incredibly easy to make. They make the house smell amazing, the textures are very fluffy and light, and the cinnamon is powerfully present. I think my friends are gonna enjoy these tonight!
Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
2 Tbsp melted butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
1 c warm milk, about 110 degrees
1/3 c warm water, about 110 degrees
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (one package)
3 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more if needed if dough is too sticky
2 tsp salt
Brown Sugar Filling
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 c butter, melted (1 stick)
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 package cream cheese frosting (8 ounce)
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup
Liberally butter a baking dish with softened butter. Set aside.
In a large pyrex measuring cup, mix together the milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix the flour and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the milk mixture. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 2 tablespoons flour at a time and mix until the dough comes together. Dough should still be sticky, but dry enough to handle.
Grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl and turn it around to grease the dough. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.
Once it has risen, punch the dough down, and turn the dough out onto a floured counter surface. Use a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle. Use the rolling pin to flatten one of the long edges to create flat border. This will help the cinnamon roll seal. Let the dough rest while you make the filling.
Melt the butter in a glass bowl, then whisk in the cinnamon and brown sugar. With an offset spatula, spread the mixture over the dough in an even layer, avoiding the flattened border edge. Begin to roll the dough into an even log.
Cut into two inch pieces, and line it up in a buttered baking dish. Allow there to be some space between each roll as the dough will continue to expand during the second proofing. Cover with saran wrap and set it back in a warm location for an hour.
Once it has puffed, bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Turn the pan halfway during baking to ensure it browns evenly.
While it bakes, make the frosting. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. On low speed, add in the powdered sugar. Once it is incorporated, turn the speed high and let it whip. Slowly drizzle in the vanilla and maple syrup until fully incorporated.
When the buns have finished baking, remove from the oven and slather on the maple cream cheese frosting immediately. It will slightly melt the frosting and allow it to seep into the crevices of the rolls. Enjoy immediately.