Jan 6, 2014

The BEST Cinnamon Roll Recipe Ever

We don't eat a ton of cinnamon rolls, but we do love them as a special, once-in-a-while treat. For years I've tried to find the perfect cinnamon roll recipe - and last month I finally found it. These are quite simply the best cinnamon rolls we've ever eaten. Period. The recipe comes from my Cuisinart breadmaker manual, but you can very easily make these cinnamon rolls without a bread maker. Here's how.

The Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe Ever*

For the dough: **

2/3 cup milk, warmed to 80 - 90 degrees F. (use a meat or candy thermometer to make sure the temperature is just right)
3 eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups bread flour (yes, it must be bread flour!)
2/3 cup cornstarch
2 1/4 teaspoons fresh dry active yeast, at room temperature

For the filling:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Raisins (optional)

For the frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

1. Begin by making sure all the ingredients (except the dough's milk) are room temperature. This makes a big difference in the finished cinnamon rolls!

2. Make the dough: Place the warm milk, eggs, butter, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla, flour, cornstarch, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. You may either stir them together by hand, stir them together with the dough hook of an electric mixer, or pop them into a 2 lb. bread maker (making sure to follow the manufacturer's directions about which ingredients should go into the pan first; usually all the wet ingredients go on the bottom of the pan and the yeast must not touch the liquid.) If using the breadmaker, turn it to the dough setting, so it will mix and rise the dough by itself, and skip to step 4.

3.If not using a bread maker, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm location until it doubles in size.

4. Punch down the dough and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 10-inch round cake pans and set aside.

5. In a small bowl, combine the filling ingredients until well blended. (If you like raisins in your cinnamon rolls, I recommend placing the desired amount in a bowl, covering them with water, and allowing them to soak for 10-15 minutes. Then drain and add to the filling.) Set filling aside.

6. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, or a little less. If desired, you may divide the dough in half and roll each part out separately, for easier handling.

7. Brush the rectangle with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the filling mixture on top. Take one short end of the rectangle and begin rolling the dough into a cigar shape. Pinch along the opposite end to "seal" the roll. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll into equally-sized cinnamon rolls. (You should get about 24 cinnamon rolls total.)

8. Place the cinnamon rolls in the prepared cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise for 40 minutes.

9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

10. Once the rolls have risen, bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the rolls sound hallow when you tap them. Allow the rolls to cool for about 20 minutes.

11. In a small bowl, whisk together all the frosting ingredients. Brush the frosting onto the cinnamon rolls. (The frosting recipe makes a generous amount; apply according to your family's tastes and don't worry about using it all up - unless you like a lot of frosting!)

* If desired, you may cut this recipe in half.

** Throughout this recipe, it's fine to use lower-fat dairy products, if desired.

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