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Welcome to the best homemade cinnamon rolls recipe you will ever need! These cinnamon rolls are so rich and soft that they melt in your mouth. They are packed with amazing flavour from dark brown sugar and decadent cinnamon and covered in a dripping insanely tasty cream cheese icing. I dare you, give it a go and I guarantee you will never look at Cinnabon cinnamon rolls the same again!
A brief history
Cinnamon rolls are hands down the best Swedish invention, before even IKEA! Over 300 years ago, the inventive Scandinavians came up with a decadent, flavourful and delicious dessert called “kanelbulle”, which basically translates to ‘cinnamon bun’.
Traditionally, the rolls were made with butter-infused yeasted dough and abundant cinnamon and sugar. Nowadays there are hundreds of variations to this recipe, some calling for a more bready texture, while others ask for thinner and crispier crust.
The average Swede consumes over 300 cinnamon buns every year. This amounts to a whooping 136,000 tonnes consumed countrywide each year! I think it’s safe to assume that I need to book a one-way ticket to Sweden.
These days, cinnamon rolls are loved worldwide, with the USA turning it into a staple for all American households. Celebrated bakeries like Cinnabon have embraced the cinnamon rolls and made it their own.
The fluffiest cinnamon rolls EVER
Ever since I first had cinnamon rolls, I was hooked! The soft pastry and the fragrant filling are a match made in Heaven. Add some delicious icing on top and boy, ohhhh boy! It doesn’t get better than this.
There are hundreds of recipes out there for different variations of the cinnamon rolls, but I wanted to do my take on it. Although I’m not reinventing the wheel, I am upping the game with ultra rich and buttery soft dough and creamy filling. I took inspiration from my Milk Brioche recipe to make the rolls super soft.
I made these rolls for a friend of mine who is a self-declared cinnamon roll fanatic. Little did I know that I shot myself in the foot, as now I need to make these cinnamon rolls every time we see each other. After trying this recipe, she said even Cinnabon cinnamon rolls or Disney’s Gaston Tavern cinnamon buns can’t compare!
What makes these cinnamon rolls so soft and fluffy is the enriched dough that had milk, butter and double cream. The filling is lovely and creamy too, by adding extra butter and double cream, along with deep flavours such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of three types of sugars – white, soft light brown and dark brown sugar, make the filling taste of rich caramel.
Is this recipe diet friendly? Most certainly no. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY YES!
The secrets to making extra soft rolls
I’ve studied and tried dozens of cinnamon rolls recipes before coming up with the winning combination. What most recipes fail to do is retain that softness in the dough and moisture in the filling, thus resulting in dry cinnamon rolls.
So how do you get the perfect cinnamon roll, even better than Cinnabon?
Whole milk – 3.5% or higher is strongly recommended, as fat is what gives the dough its softness
Butter – Similarly to the milk, we want it to be at least 80% fat. Unsalted works best as it’s easier to control the amount of salt in the recipe
Egg – This recipe calls for large eggs and organic or free-range eggs are strongly recommended. The yolk has a much creamier texture and is typically a vibrant orange colour.
Sour cream – This is the secret ingredient to making the cinnamon rolls incredibly soft. Once more, a higher percentage of fat is recommended, above 10%. Sour cream can be replaced with double cream (or heavy cream) as well as full fat Greek yoghurt. We will be using a little cream in the filling as well, to ensure it stays lovely and moist.
Flour – Extra fine cake flour (also known as Flour type 0000) makes the cinnamon rolls have an ultra light, almost aerated texture. Plain flour can be used, but the extra fine flour will make the recipe even better.
Soft light brown sugar – Although it can be substituted for plain white sugar, light brown sugar helps make the dough even softer.
Dark brown sugar – This is key for the filling. Dark brown sugar will make the cinnamon pop out even more, whilst adding caramel hints.
Most recipes call for only sugar and cinnamon. Since we are making the supreme cinnamon rolls here, two ingredients just aren’t enough. I have experimented with all different types of fillings, and here is how to ensure it stays creamy and light:
Butter – It needs to be at room temperature so it’s very pliable and can be spread easily.
Double cream – A few teaspoons mixed in with the butter will ensure the filling does not get absorbed by the dough, but instead remains lovely and creamy.
Soft light brown sugar – This keep the filling creamy and prevents it from drying out.
Dark brown sugar – This is key to getting that amazing caramelised flavour. Mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s a winning combination!
Cinnamon – Is hands down the star of the dish. Use real extra fine cinnamon to ensure maximum flavour.
Nutmeg – The recipe calls for only a hint of nutmeg, as we only want it to complement the cinnamon and give it some extra oompf.
Lemon juice – Although this is optional, it helps balance out the sweetness.
The perfect cream cheese icing
The secret weapon to making these cinnamon rolls extra gooey and decadent is the cream cheese icing. Consistency of the icing is a highly debatable topic, but I find that slightly thinner icing goes much better with the super light roll.
To make the icing we need:
Cream cheese – I’ve been saying this non stop this recipes, but keep it full fat please! We need all the amazing taste we can get.
Milk – This is used as a thinner, add as little or much as you need.
Icing sugar – It’s key you use extra fine icing sugar, to ensure it dissolves fully into the cream cheese.
Vanilla extract – The best flavour ever invented, ensure you use good quality pure vanilla extract.
Lemon juice – This is optional, but it will take the edge off the sweetness a little.
The icing needs to be added over the cinnamon buns as soon as the tray comes out of the oven. Let it set for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cutting into it and serving. I recommend saving a little icing for later use, as it’s so delicious!
How to get perfectly round rolls
This is probably my favourite part, because it feels almost too good to be true. Using a knife can squash the rolls very easily, and they will end up more like a rugby ball rather than round. To avoid weirdly shaped rolls, the easiest method is to use something we all have in our homes: dental floss.
Yep – dental floss. All you need is about a 30cm (10inch) length of floss. To cut the rolls, simply place it underneath, then bring both ends together and pull. It’s unbelievably easy and so effortless!
The cinnamon rolls
400g extra fine cake flour (Type 0000)
40g white sugar
40g soft brown sugar
8g instant dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg
120g sour cream (or double cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g butter (room temp)
2 tsp double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
50g white sugar
50g dark brown sugar
100g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
120g cream cheese
50ml milk (adjust for thickness)
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 tsp lemon juice
- Cream the room temp butter with the sugar, adding it in 3 stages.
- Once incorporated, add in the double cream, spices and lemon juice.
- Keep at room temp until ready to use.
The cinnamon rolls
- Combine the flour, salt, spices and sugar, lemon zest and yeast in a large bowl and mix well.
- In a smaller bowl place the milk and butter. Microwave for 30-40 seconds to melt the butter – but please ensure it’s not too hot.
- Mix in the egg, sour cream and vanilla extract.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients with a spatula until the dough just about sticks together.
- Flour your work surface lightly and start kneading the dough. Knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and supple. Sprinkle extra flour if needed, but not too much as it can make the dough dense.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with cling film and let prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough is nice and fluffy, place it onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle around 5-6mm thickness.
- Using a spatula, spread the butter filling evenly over the surface. Leave a strip roughly 2-3cm wide free from butter on the longest side.
- Start folding in the roll, starting from the length opposite the 2-3cm plain strip.
- With the plain strip under the roll, use dental floss to cut each roll. It’s easier if you make marks first before actually cutting into the roll. You can also use a knife instead
- Place the rolls into a tray or an oven-safe dish a few centimetres apart from each other. As they prove, the rolls will expand so we need room to do this.
- Cover them with a lid or cling film and let them prove in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
- Bake the rolls in a pre-heated oven at 180C with fan for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cover with aluminium foil if the rolls start browning too quickly.
- Start preparing the icing in the meantime.
- In a medium bowl place the cream cheese, milk, icing sugar and vanilla extract.
- Use a mixer or spatula to mix until the sugar is fully incorporated.
- Place the icing over the hot cinnamon rolls right out of the oven. Save a little for later use if you like extra icing.
- Let the rolls cool for 20-30 minutes in the tray before serving.
The icing is completely optional, but it will make the cinnamon rolls taste incredible! You can also add 1 tsp of lemon juice for an extra kick. Sour cream can be replaced with double cream. Alternatively, you can replace it with milk. This recipe calls for 3 different types of sugar, but you can use only plain sugar if needed. I recommend all 3, as the light brown sugar adds softness to the dough, whilst the dark brown sugar makes the filling taste more caramelised.