The Best Cinnamon Rolls.

The-Best-Cinnamon-Rolls

Yes, that’s a period – as in The Best Cinnamon Rolls, period. I could’ve also said: Ever. In The World. In The Universe. Or You’ve Ever Eaten.

And I wouldn’t be exaggerating, tooting my own horn, or overstating it to write any of it about these rolls. Oh, I know there are hundreds of recipes out there – some even purporting to be the best, too. But I’m going to lay it on the line – they might be good, but these are better than any others I’ve tried (and the recipe by a huge blogger that gets written up all over the internet as the best? All I’ve got to say is baking powder and soda have no place in a yeast dough – ever. Unless you want cinnamon biscuits, that is…).

How can I be so sure? Fifteen years of testimonials from family and friends. These are a special labor of love that I make only 3-4 times a year, but they are requested for every major gathering. And they are loved. My sister and brother-in-law told me once that they went out of their way on a hiking trip near Canada to stop in a little cafe that they read had the most awesome cinnamon rolls. She shook her head sadly as she told me they were not nearly as good as mine. She sorta felt sorry for the people who thought they were getting the best cinnamon rolls (yes, she’s a sweety).

So I’m not putting the title on these lightly or flippantly or just to get Google traffic. And the reason I haven’t put them on the blog before? Well, they are a special recipe – I might even go so far as to say my best recipe – and I wasn’t sure I wanted it published. Well, that and the fact that I knew it would take a long time to photograph, edit, and write up…a-hem. But I love all you guys, too, and since I can’t make them for you…posting the recipe is the next best thing!

So here is my gift to you: The Best Cinnamon Rolls (and of course a tutorial to walk you through the steps – which aren’t hard, by the way).

proofing-yeast

First step: Yeast Mixture

Mix yeast, warm tap water, and a bit of honey in a measuring cup and set aside. You’ll want to move quickly to the next step, ’cause it will grow to fill a 1-cup measure in only a few minutes.

making-cinnamon-roll-dough

Second Step: Mix the Dough
  1. Using a large mixing bowl, combine warmed milk, sugar, butter, salt and eggs. You can see in the photo that it won’t actually combine. Just mix them together as best you can and then add the bubbling yeast mixture and stir it in.
  2. Add half the flour (3 c.) and beat on medium speed until smooth – about a minute.
  3. Stir in another 3 1/2 cups flour to make a stiff, yet sticky dough and change to a dough hook.
  4. Knead with the mixer for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is clearing the sides, but still sticking to the bottom. Add only enough extra flour – a tablespoon at a time – to have it just clear the sides, as pictured (to make by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes).
  5. Turn the dough out into a large, lightly greased bowl for rising. The dough should still be soft, sticking to the bottom of the bowl like pictured, but not sticking to your finger when you lightly touch it (similar to another awesome bread recipe, my 100% Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls).
  6. Cover and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The picture is the doubled dough – it’s not typically smooth like some doughs.

filling-shaping-cinnamon-rolls

Third Step: Fill and Shape

-Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I always use a tea towel) and let rest for 5 minutes. While dough is resting, prepare pans and filling.

  1. Divide a 1/2 cup of butter – 1/3 c. into a pan or glass cup to melt and the remaining butter divided between the baking pans. I use 2 glass pans, a 13×9 and a 11×7 inch, fitting 8 rolls in the larger pan and 6 in the smaller pan. It’s easiest for me to divide the butter up first, like pictured, and then melt it in the pans and cups using a microwave. If you want to melt in a pan, you can pour the entire amount of melted butter into a measuring cup and pour a little in each pan until you’re left with the 1/3 cup you’ll need for the filling.
  2. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter all over the pans. Sprinkle a sugar-cinnamon mixture on the butter-coated pans. Yes, this is special – go ahead and do it.
  3. Mix brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon -lots – in a small bowl.
  4. Roll out the rested dough into a 15 x 20 inch rectangle, pour the remaining 1/3 cup melted butter on top and spread evenly – but make sure not to lose it over the edges. I use a pastry brush and go close to the edges only. The butter will be pooling in spots. That’s good.
  5. Evenly distribute the filling mixture over the buttered dough. I usually make a line of the sugar mixture all around the edge first before filling in the center, just to make sure I don’t push any butter off the dough with the sugar – that would be bad.
  6. Roll up the dough and pinch the edges to seal. I often take the butter-coated pastry brush and run it along the edge first to help the dough stick better when pinched.
  7. Cut into 14 rolls. I cut the roll in half first and then cut each half into a larger and smaller piece. Cut the larger piece of each half into fourths and the smaller into thirds. I use a serrated bread knife which cuts easily, but you can use whatever works for you.

rising-cinnamon-roll-dough

Forth Step: Let Rise
  1. Place the cut slices close together in the prepared pans. You may need to re-pinch the ends as you place them. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Start preheating the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before ready to bake. See my fingers on the risen rolls? That’s to show you that I often push down any centers that are popping up before putting them into the oven. The standard response to the problem of high centers is that the dough was rolled too tightly. I have found, however that some centers will rise no matter what – so I gently push any down before baking and sometimes after, too, which makes it easier to frost. It doesn’t seem to hurt them and it’s usually only a few.

baked-frosted-cinnamon-rolls

Fifth Step: Bake and Frost
  1. Bake the rolls 18-22 minutes, until lightly browned, rotating halfway through if needed. The smaller pan is usually done first in the lesser time and will need to be removed, letting the larger pan continue to bake.
  2. Cool the rolls on a wire rack for a few minutes while you mix up the cream cheese frosting.
  3. Divide the frosting evenly among the warm rolls using a large spoon and then spread to fully cover. Yes, this is a frosting – no whimpy glaze allowed!

cinnamon roll

As the rolls continue to cool, the frosting seeps into all the crevices, mixing with the filling and creating…well, cinnamon roll heaven.

Best Cinnamon Rolls

Sixth Step: Share and Enjoy

And see if my family and I are right about these rolls – but don’t blame me if you find you’re spoiled for any other cinnamon rolls.

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An Oregon Cottage’s Best Cinnamon Rolls – Period.

Rolls:

  • 2 Tb. yeast (active dry or instant- both work)
  • 1 c. warm water (hot tap is fine, 105-115 degrees)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 c. warmed milk
  • 1 c. butter (2 sticks), divided
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 c. unbleached flour, plus a bit extra for kneading and rolling
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour (white whole wheat, or spelt work as well)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3 Tb. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon, optional to coat the pans, but highly recommended…

Frosting:

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 c. melted butter
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tb. hot water
  1. Make Dough: Mix yeast, warm tap water, and honey in a measuring cup and set aside. 
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, combine warmed milk, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. softened butter, salt and eggs. Mix them as best you can, then add the bubbling yeast mixture and stir it all together.
  3. Add the whole wheat flour (3 c.) and beat on medium speed until smooth – about a minute. Stir in the remaining 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour, making a stiff, yet sticky dough.
  4. Change to a dough hook (or turn out if kneading by hand). Knead with the mixer for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is clearing the sides, but still sticking to the bottom. If the dough is still sticking to the sides, add only enough extra flour – a tablespoon at a time – to have it just clear the sides (by hand knead for 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured surface).
  5. Turn the dough out into a large, lightly greased bowl for rising. The dough should still be soft, sticking to the bottom of the bowl as you transfer it to the greased bowl, but not sticking to your finger when you lightly touch it. Cover and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Shape and Fill: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I always use a tea towel) and let rest for 5 minutes. While dough is resting, prepare pans and filling.
  7. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of butter and divide it: 1/3 c. for the filling and what remains from the stick of butter between 2 baking pans, a 13×9 and a 11×7 inch (roughly 2 Tb. for the larger pan and 1 Tb. for the smaller). Melt the divided butter in the pans and glass measuring cup using a microwave, using a pastry brush to coat the pans with the melted butter (to melt on the stove, melt the 1/2 cup in a pot and then pour the entire amount of melted butter into a measuring cup, pouring a little into each pan until you’re left with the 1/3 cup you’ll need for the filling). Sprinkle the optional (though not really…) 1/4 cup sugar-cinnamon mixture on the butter-coated pans.
  8. Mix the brown sugar, remaining white sugar and  3 Tb. cinnamon  in a small bowl; set aside.
  9. Roll out the rested dough into a 15 x 20 inch rectangle, pour the 1/3 cup melted butter on top and spread evenly using a pastry brush. Brush close to the edges, but don’t allow the butter to go over them. Evenly distribute the filling mixture over the buttered dough. Start around the edges first before filling in the center to make sure the sugar doesn’t push the butter off the dough.
  10. Roll up the dough as evenly as possible – too loose and you’ll get spaces in the rolls, too tight and the centers will pop out – and pinch the edges to seal. Cut into 14 rolls (cut the roll in half first and then cut each half into a larger and smaller piece; cut the larger piece of each half into fourths and the smaller into thirds). Place the cut slices close together in the prepared pans. You may need to re-pinch the ends as you place them.
  11. Rise and Bake: Cover pans with a towel or plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45 minutes – 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before the rolls are ready to bake.
  12. Bake the rolls 18-22 minutes, until lightly browned, rotating halfway through if needed. The smaller pan is usually done first in the lesser time and will need to be removed, letting the larger pan continue to bake. Cool the rolls on a wire rack for a few minutes while you mix up the cream cheese frosting.
  13. Frost: Combine all the frosting ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat until smooth. Divide the frosting evenly among the warm rolls using a large spoon and then spread to fully cover all the rolls. Let cool a bit more before serving.*

Makes 14 large rolls

*Note: I often make these a day ahead to take to family gatherings: let cool completely, cover with plastic and then foil. The next morning, remove the covers and reheat gently in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes before serving, if desired. Just watch closely as you don’t want all the frosting to melt! They also can be frozen – frosting and all – for a few days, but will need to be thawed thoroughly before reheating.

I’m sharing at: Weekend Wrap Up Party, Saturday Nite Special

Comments

  1. Yum! Love the addition of the spelt flour. thanks.

  2. Wow, they look amazing and you make it look so easy. Can’t you just make us each a batch and send them to us!! :) Thanks for sharing this family recipe with us, I appreciate you.

  3. Thanks, can’t wait to try it. I’m also looking forward to gardening with you. Love this blog.

    Kathy

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I just love it! Thank you for sharing! I’ve made almost all your bread recipes and love them. Thrown all my old recipes out. I’ve always made bread by hand, but I’d really like to invest in a mixer to help my back out :). What mixer do you use and how long have you had it? Thank you!

    • Awesome, Amy- I’m so happy to hear that! I’ve used a Kitchenaid for years – I started with the a lower-end tilt-top model, but it was worked to death as soon as I started making whole wheat and sourdough breads. I now have a Kitchenaid Professional 550 (I think that’s the number…) which I LOVE. I bought it refurbished from the Kitchenaid site about 3 years ago and it’s working all my bread dough like a charm. You will LOVE not having to make it by hand anymore, so start saving. :)

  5. They sound delicious! I would love to have you share this recipe on The Creative HomeAcre Hop tomorrow :)

    Hope to see you there!

  6. I made the rolls yesterday to share with family. And, yes, they are the best!! Easy to make, look beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Oh, and my grandchildren thank you, too!

  7. Yummy! I am a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, I have just never made them with icing (I always make vanilla custard to accompany them, very tasty!).

    I’m your newest follower, by the way!

    Anja @ cocalores.blogspot.com

  8. Cannot wait to try these! I’ve made the oh-so-popular-all-over-blogland-big-time-blogger’s recipe (which a friend said was “the best” and that’s the only recipe she uses anymore) but we didn’t care for them at all. Cinnamon biscuits is a perfect description of them. We love ours yeasty so I can’t wait to test this one out. Thank you so very much for deciding to share it. : )

    • Yes, Stephanie, I didn’t want to be derogatory in any way, but they really tasted like biscuits to me so I felt I had to address the difference. I think you’ll be pleased with these. :)

  9. Cannot wait to try these! Do you think I could make a batch and maybe freeze them for a little while, maybe without the frosting, I could make that fresh when we need it? Any experience with little more long term storage? There are only two of us and I am finally getting some traction with my exercise program ;) Thanks in advance!

    • I have tried lots of ways to make-ahead, Liz. The problem with not frosting them is that you miss out on that thing that happens as the frosting seeps into the cooling rolls, which is one of the things that makes them so amazing, in my opinion. When a family member can’t be at a gathering and are sad about missing out on the rolls, I wrap one with foil (after baked, frosted, and cooled) and freeze it – that might be the answer for just the two of you, then you can pull out just how many you need and let them thaw. As for how long, you’ll have to let us know if there’s a “use by” date, as I’ve never had them last very long in my family. :)

      • Thanks… I don’t know if we are up for the challenge of keeping them in the freezer but life is short I think we should enjoy them regardless! ;)

  10. I’m an Australian admirer of your blog and tried these today and we all LOVED them. Thanks for posting. Details were easy to follow and not complicated. For any other possible Aussies who want to try this recipe, I didn’t end up converting the measurements and just used straight metric – only change I made was to change yeast to 2 tsp (metric). They were delicious, turned out just like the pictures and we will definitely be starting a tradition with these.
    Just want to also say that your posts are quite inspiring with changing things up to have a fresh new look for all to enjoy.

  11. YUUUMMMMYYY!!! I can’t WAIT to make these Sunday morning!

  12. Hello Jami,
    1st time commenter, but I feel a need.
    Made these yesterday while watching Daytona 500.
    They were UHHH-MAZING.
    I’ve also made your Pork Stew and Sriracha crackers.
    Freakin’ good food, man.
    Love your site
    Tami
    Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada….ehhhh!!!!!
    :)

  13. Oh my heavens! These look delicious! I’m definitely going to have to make them, but only if there are a lot of people to eat them so I don’t have to worry about my waistline as much! ;)

  14. Ok I made these today… Wow!… Just wow… I was literally taking bites and going “OMG!”… Never made these before so I was a nervous newbie and so proud they looked so good in the end… I made 16 with your recipe, two 9×13 glass pyrex is what I had. Loved the frosting and the slight crunch on the bottom from the ‘optional’ cinnamon sugar… Thank you so much for sharing Jami!.

    • Yes, and yes, Liz. :) And my family complains that they are smaller (thinner) when I’ve made 16 in the past, but it’s certainly a good option. Thanks for taking the time to let me know how you liked them – and that you were successful using the tutorial, woot!

  15. Wow! Thanks for sharing such a special recipe! I’m printing it off to try!
    Gina

  16. These are so delicious. I rolled them out a bit more to make enough to take to my students on our final day (they have presentations today!). I am having a hard time not eating a bunch before class!! So goooood!! Thank you for the recipe and the great blog :)

  17. love, love, love cinnamon rolls! I am seriously considering making these tomorrow! my 36+ week pregnant body is thanking you for this recipe. :) (though my scale may not!)

  18. Have you ever tried with all spelt or white wheat flour? Sometimes when I make things whole grain (with no white flour) I use half oat flour and half wheat to make them sweeter/less wheaty tasting….just wondered if you have tried all whole-grain flour and found good results? Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried all whole grain, Jenny, just half spelt or white whole wheat. Even half creates a much denser roll and since we have these only a few times a year, I basically go with all purpose to keep the wonderful texture. :)

  19. I finally got around to trying these out this morning for my daughter’s birthday breakfast. They are DEE-licious and I will definitely be making them again! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I shared it over on my Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/TheCozyOldFarmhouse

  20. Well, I made 1 and 1/2 batches of these last weekend, and they are deserving of their title. I did a good job of multiplying the recipe until I got to the frosting, and ended up with a full double batch, which almost made them too rich. Apparently I made them smaller too, as I fit 15 rolls into a 9 x 13 pan. But they were plenty big for us. Kudos to you Jami for such an excellent recipe! We appreciate you sharing. :-)

  21. Hi Jami! Another fabulous “share”! I tried this recipe today, the first time I’ve made cinnamon rolls & they were absolutely wonderful! However, I didn’t realize that I was almost out of vanilla, so I wound up using 1 teaspoon of vanilla & 1/8 teaspoon of orange oil that I had on hand from making Divinity. They were super-duper good, as my 13 year-old niece said! Thanks for sharing it!

  22. Thank you so very much for being generous enough to share one of your best recipes. I’ve tried too many cinnamon roll recipes to count and thought I’d found a keeper until I tried this recipe. We performed a taste test in our home, comparing my previous favorite recipe with this, and your recipe won hands down. I could not be more delighted to find a recipe that uses WW flour with such great results. The word my DH used was “squishy”, which is high praise! I have a question: my rolls looked wonderful going into the oven, but collapsed a little after baking. It didn’t affect the taste, but I wondered why that happened. I did a little research and one suggestion is that I used too much yeast. The 2 TB called for is more than any of the other recipes I’ve used. Is more yeast required because of the WW flour? Just curious. Thank you again for a winning recipe!

    • Glad they won the taste test, Linda! They sure do in my family. :) Hmmm, it depends on what you mean by ‘collapsed’ – the entire rolls or just the centers? When I don’t get the dough rolled evenly, the centers sometimes descend after baking, leaving spaces between the layers. Other than that, they pretty much always turn out like pictured for me – and I always use the 2 TB yeast. I think it’s that much because it makes a large amount of big rolls, it’s pretty much a double recipe of a regular roll recipe. I also think of the recipes I use a lot of yeast in and it’s always soft breads that you want light and airy, so that’s got something to do with it, too. One more thing to think about: I’ve overproofed bread before and it collapses after cooking, so make sure not to let them rise too long.

      Hopefully you won’t have that happen the next time you make them!

      • Thanks for the suggestion Jami. You may be right that I let the dough rise too long….on the first rise I got distracted and by the time I returned to the kitchen the dough had almost spilled over the bowl. Also, I should have mentioned that I used instant dry yeast. I read that you can reduce the amount by about 25% if using instant yeast because it has smaller granules and is a little more compacted than active dry yeast. I’ll be more careful with the rise next time, and if that doesn’t do the trick I’ll try reducing the amount of yeast. Even with slightly collapsed rolls, this recipe is a winner!

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