When you think of baking that makes you feel all warm and cozy, a few things come to mind but I think homemade cinnamon sticky buns take the #1 spot.
There’s just something about the beautiful swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar all tightly rolled in perfect spirals, then smothered in a sweet cream cheese frosting. Even if you’re not a baker, or you’re still learning baking, these cinnamon rolls are pretty fool-proof and don’t have any tricky or complex methods. The only thing you need to account for is there’s about 40 minutes of time in the process required for letting them rise, so this isn’t something you whip up and bake right away. But don’t let that discourage you! Trust me on this, make these once and you’ll be wanting these every weekend.
For me, there’s nostalgia in a cinnamon sticky bun. It was our morning tradition on Thanksgiving morning…cinnamon sticky buns while watching the parade. A little something to hold you over until the non-stop snacking and eating of Thanksgiving can begin. As you’ll see I noted below, I actually only use a small amount of powdered sugar in the frosting so it’s less sweet and has more of the cream cheese flavor coming through. I much prefer it this way, and I think you will too. The cinnamon rolls themselves have enough sugar in the filling and the dough, and I prefer to let that be the sweetness to this while the frosting has a smooth cooling effect. If you prefer a sweeter version you can always add more to your liking!
I love how the thick frosting just hugs every spiral of the cinnamon buns.
Garnish with a little sprinkle of cinnamon if you want! I think it makes these even more irresistible.
For the Dough
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup butter
-3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 package instant yeast
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup water
For the Filling
-1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
For the Frosting
-2 tablespoons softened butter
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1. To start making the dough, heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the butter and stir until melted, let it cool until lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and whisk together. Add the water, egg and the cooled milk mixture, beat in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour (adding it as 1/2 cup at a time) and stir with a wooden spoon after each addition of flour. When the dough has come together, lightly flour your counter and knead the dough ball on the surface for about 5 minutes. When the dough is ready, it will spring back when lightly pressed.
3. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 10 minutes.
4. While the dough is rising, start making the filling by making the browned butter. Melt the 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pot, once melted increase the heat so the butter is bubbling and cook roughly 4-5 minutes until browned. You want to whisk continuously as it’s getting close to browning and keep a close eye on it. You’ll know it’s close by the smell, the butter will smell warm and slightly nutty and will be caramel in color. If you’ve reached 5 minutes and you still have yellow butter, keep cooking in 30 second increments, slightly increasing the heat. Brown butter should be a deep caramel color and you’ll see the milk particles have separated from the liquid and have also browned. The smell is incredible! Once you’ve got your brown butter, pour it into a heat safe bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm. While the butter is cooling, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
5. Now that the dough has risen for 10 minutes, place it on a lightly floured surface and using your rolling pin, roll it out into a 12×9 rectangle. I use a tape measure to confirm the size. Using a pastry brush, completely cover the dough with the brown butter, then sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mix, pressing it into the dough with your hands so it doesn’t fall out. Make sure you get the cinnamon sugar all the way to the edges.
6. Now it’s time to roll! Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log, when it’s completely rolled make sure to pinch the seam into the dough to seal it shut. Cut into 12 rolls (you might get a few less depending on how big you rolled your dough, and the two edge pieces are usually a little smaller, so getting only 10 rolls is possible too). Place in a 9×13 baking dish and let rise for 30 minutes. While they are rising again, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
7. Once the 30 minutes is up, bake cinnamon rolls for 17-20 minutes until nice and golden. Let cool 10 minutes before frosting.
8. While the rolls are baking, make the frosting. Whip the softened butter and softened cream cheese together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the powdered sugar. I only use 1 and 1/2 cups because I don’t want my frosting overly sweet. If you want a very sweet frosting you can add up to 3 cups of powdered sugar. A tip on getting a smooth frosting is to sift your powdered sugar before mixing in, usually if you just dump powdered sugar right into a mixture you’re going to get these little pockets or balls of the sugar that don’t dissolve and will make your frosting look a little bumpy…so run it through a sifter or I use my metal pasta strainer to get a super fine powder-like consistency, then mix in. Spread frosting over cinnamon buns, then garnish with a light dash of cinnamon.
Source: The Baker Chick