The following recipe and photography for this post were provided by local blogger Abby Thome of The Thome Home.
It’s Christmas morning, you turn on the tree lights to set the scene for when those sweet little feet run down the staircase eager to see what the big guy with the sleigh has brought this year.
The only thing that could make this morning better is the smell of sweet cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. So, you run to your fridge to pull out the rising rolls you made the night before while wrapping paper flies through the air. By the time the kids are done picking up their wrapping paper scraps, you will be ready to add frosting that completes the morning’s magic. Could there be a more perfect way to wake up on Christmas? I think not!
Making cinnamon rolls from scratch is so satisfying you’ll wonder why you ever popped a cardboard tube open to enjoy this breakfast treat. My favorite part of this entire process is that you make everything the day before. Once your cinnamon rolls are sliced and placed onto a baking sheet, you store them into the fridge until you are ready to pull them out to rise one last time before you bake. Make the frosting a day in advance and you will have a breakfast that may be more memorable than the presents given that morning!
Homemade Holiday Cinnamon Rolls
For Activating the Yeast
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 envelopes of quick-rise dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
For the Dough
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 to 8 1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Filling
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tbsp. milk if needed
For Making the Rolls
- Add two packages of quick-rise yeast to warm water with a bit of sugar to “feed” the yeast. Give it a stir, and let it stand for 5 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients for the dough (see below). The yeast will “bloom” and become frothy.
- In a large bowl, with a handheld mixer, combine buttermilk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and butter until the batter is light and fluffy (2-3 minutes)
- Add the bowl of activated yeast to the large bowl with the batter. Mix together for an additional 30 seconds until just combined.
- Add half of the flour (4 cups) to the batter, and mix until it is nearly incorporated. Add remainder of flour. If the dough is too sticky, add the additional 1/2 cup of flour.
- Sprinkle flour onto your countertop, pour the dough out and sprinkle a bit more flour on top. Start to knead the dough for 2 minutes until it becomes smooth and firm.
- Place back into the bowl, and cover with a kitchen towel for 90 minutes for the dough to rise. During this time the dough will expand to 2x its original size.
- After 90 minutes, place the dough onto a well-floured surface, it will naturally expand and you can push it down into a rectangular shape that is 2 inches thick.
- Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle the top of the dough to ensure the pin will not stick.
- Starting in the center of the rectangle, roll in a cross-like pattern with gentle pressure until you are left with a 3-foot by 2-foot elongated rectangle of dough that is 1/8 inch thick.
- Melt the butter, and pour over the entire rectangle of dough.
- Spread 2 cups of brown sugar with your hands over the butter.
- Carefully sprinkle ground cinnamon on top of the brown sugar.
- Using both of your hands, roll the dough into a very long, snake-like roll. Start in the bottom left corner, working left to right (long ways), roll a 1/2-inch section over onto itself, gently pinching as you go to let the first roll stick – do this the entire length down.
- Work your way back gently rolling another half-inch of dough onto itself again. Work inch by inch as you roll way down the row. Once you are on your third roll, you’ll finally have a rope-like shape that makes rolling much easier!
- Continue to tightly roll the dough, left to right, right to left until you are at the end. Finish rolling intentionally with the last edge remaining seam-side down
- With a very sharp knife, slice the cinnamon rolls into 2-inch sections.
- Place the sliced rolls on a buttered baking sheet.
- Cover with clear wrap and place in the fridge overnight to continue to rise until you are ready to bake in the morning. (You can skip waiting overnight and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes before baking.)
- In the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and let them come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Frost (see below) when warm if you prefer gooey cinnamon rolls, or frost when slightly cooled for a thicker frosting.
For the Frosting
- Using a handheld mixer, combine all ingredients in a large bowl for 3 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Add 1 tbsp. of milk if the frosting needs thinned. Use immediately on warm cinnamon rolls, or place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use (3 days maximum.)