For my Instagram followers, you saw this coming! For two weeks I have been putting up pictures of the gooiest, most cinnamon and brown sugar studded buns you’ve ever seen. And here is the reason why, I was taste testing a variety of recipes and ingredients until I settled on the BEST rolls ever. The BEST! These rolls are soft, sweet, sticky, bursting with authentic Ceylon cinnamon, and smothered in the creamiest icing.
The good people at Cinnamon Vogue sent me a bundle of authentic Ceylon cinnamon swank that I will be using for some glorious holiday posts like this one. One whiff and you will be swept away into a spicy realm of exotic bliss. And if you have read my post on The Holiday Baking Spices, you know that I went to their site previously for some expert advice on Cinnamon for that post as well!
And guess what, I have another secret weapon ingredient besides authentic Ceylon cinnamon that will make you the star of any bake-sale, bake-off, and bake-day. What is it, you ask? Well, you just have to keep reading!
I’ve loved Cinnamon Rolls since childhood when holiday mornings were filled with warmth from the oven and the lovely scents of yeast and cinnamon. My Mom made her own bread throughout my childhood. I loved watching the dough rise then helping to punch it down once it bloomed into a pillowy mound of softness. It was a truly special post to have Bea help me with that step this year.
Cinammon rolls can be the greatest joy or the biggest baking downer. These buns are tricky! From the yeast to the rolling, there is a lot that goes into Cinnamon Rolls. I am going to give you the breakdown, the tricks, and of course, the secret ingredient.
So the good news is, the secret ingredient happens to be the first thing in this recipe. As you have found when looking for Cinnamon Roll recipes, most are made with milk or buttermilk. My buns are done a little different, and may I say, a whole lot better! My secret for the softest buns on the block, coconut milk! The yeast got along famously with the warmed coconut milk, resulting in a cloud of dough that was creamy and as soft as could be. And I can’t think of anything better to enhance Ceylon cinnamon than coconut milk.
The start to any yeast based dough will be properly preparing your yeast. If you have ever attempted to make a yeast mixture, you know how difficult this can be. You must have your liquid at the right temperature. If it is too hot it will kill your yeast. Too cold, and it won’t activate. As you can see from the above photo, this yeast is foaming and active. In order to get the correct temperature (between 120-130 degrees) you need a thermometer. So regardless which kind of yeast you use (rapid or not), the temperature of your liquid has to be correct. In my post for 5 Kitchen Essentials For Fall, I have a couple of great options. I use this Digital Thermometer, as it’s fast, accurate, and easy to read. For a quick tutorial on how to proof yeast take a look at this video.
Please note that you should check the yeast directions for what brand you are using. Red Star yeast has a wonderful post on Yeast & Baking Lessons, which will give you all the information you want on all the different types of yeast and more!
When working with canned coconut milk you must whisk the mixture since it separates in the can. It is thicker than milk, so I use a full cup. I heat this to the ideal range then sprinkle my yeast and let proof for about 5 minutes. I tend to buy fast-acting yeast.
See that gorgeous yeast mixture on the left! On the right I have a mixture of melted butter, an egg, and sugar.
Then my best baker friend helped me get the bread flour mixture incorporated and ready for our KitchenAid! It is essential to use bread flour for the softest, most luxurious rolls. Take a look at What’s the Difference Between All-Purpose Flour and Bread Flour?
Once incorporated we let our mixer do the heavy kneading!
While Bea peeps on at her absolute favorite treat, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in there!
You will notice that this is a very sticky dough! That is a good thing. It is always better to have a stickier, wetter dough that you can add flour too rather than starting with too much flour. If extra flour is desired then add it by the tablespoon. Remember that you will also be using a floured surface later on, so again, sticky dough is ok! After 10 minutes move ball of dough into a well buttered large bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a draft free, warm space. We have a double oven so I keep the bottom oven on while my dough rises in the top oven for about 90 minutes when it should be doubled in size.
Look at that! And now, the fun part. Punching down that risen beauty! I let Bea help with that part. She’s dainty, so she poked it and then I pushed down the rest.
See the dainty poke to the left then the old dinosaur print from me in the middle!
Lightly flour a surface and roll this out into rectangle. I roll it to the size of a casserole pan, such as 9×13. That is usually a good way to gage size unless you have a bunch of measuring devices.
Then butter that dough slab and sprinkle on a brown sugar/ cinnamon mixture. Take in the scent, it’s heavenly.
After sprinkling onto butter, rub all this brown sugar and cinnamon into the dough slab to coat.
Then roll it. Another tricky part of cinnamon rolls is the actual rolling. Be careful not to roll too tightly, as this will result in the middles of the rolls popping out! While popped outliers are still delicious, they definitely don’t look as beautiful!
I put marks on my roll so that I know exactly where I should be cutting to get even slices. I like big rolls, so I just go big with 8 rolls to around cake pan, however, most recipes use 9 slices in a 9×9 pan. Go with your heart on this one! Just remember to adjust baking time, longer for bigger rolls.
Then just cover with plastic wrap and allow these to rise for another 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the bigger rolls I was in the 30-35 minutes baking range. If you were to opt for the 9 slightly smaller rolls you would be at 25-30 minutes.
They will rise and mold together perfectly as they bake. I’m hungry just looking at these! Now on to the cream cheese frosting!
You get to make a decision right about now. You can make a traditional and deliciously gooey and divine icing, or you can add a boost of bourbon or Cointreau for some boozy goodness. I usually split the icing into two bowls. We can call them them the sweet and the sinful batches. As you can imagine, the sweet, alcohol-free batch is for the kids and for breakfast. And that sinful, liquor-induced batch, well that one is laced with bourbon. My kind of dessert rolls!
Once you have whipped up your frosting and your buns had about 15 minutes to rest, ice them up!
Look at these fluffy, cinnamon swirled, gorgeous buns! And these are so scrumptious that they won’t last long. I usually make two batches and freeze the extra one for cinnamon rolls on call!
I hope these Cinnamon Rolls become a tradition in your home. As always, if you have any questions about this recipe feel free to email me. And be sure to check out Cinnamon Vogue!
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup of warmed canned coconut milk, whisked until smooth.
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 egg
- 3 cups bread flour
- 4 tablespoons of softened salted butter
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons softened butter
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or use bourbon or Cointreau)
- Heat coconut milk until temp. is 120-130 degrees.
- Sprinkle on yeast then wait 5-10 minutes until foamy and proofed.
- Add in egg, melted 4 tab. of butter, and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar to yeast mixture.
- Combine salt and bread flour then mix in until incorporated.
- Transfer to stand mixer. With the dough hook attachment let mixer knead for 10 minutes. Then transfer sticky dough ball into a well buttered large bowl.
- Let rise for 90 minutes in a draft free and warm area.
- Punch down and roll to 9 x 13 rectangle.
- Spread 4 tablespoons softened butter then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon (mix brown sugar and cinnamon ahead of time). Rub into dough.
- Roll it up and slice into 8 or 9 slices, depending on pan you are using.
- Put into a well buttered pan.
- Let rise another 45 minutes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (for 9) or 30-35 minutes (for 8). Oven temperature- 350 degrees.
Let cool 15 minutes. In a bowl whisk softened butter and cream cheese. Then add in vanilla extract (or your sinful liquor!) and powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth then ice those cinnamon rolls!
Indulge, enjoy, repeat!
Note: As I mentioned earlier in this post, my Mom has always been an all-star bread maker. A great resource from beginners to expert bakers is her go-to cookbook, Beard On Bread. In fact, NYT has an adapted recipe from this very book for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread that I am definitely trying this holiday season.
Tip: Change these up as you please! Roast some pecan bits and add them with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Soak some raisins in bourbon and roll them in too! If you want to sub the coconut milk for milk, reduce to 3/4 cup since milk is thinner. Buttermilk should be at 1 cup since so thick.