Thursday, December 20, 2012

The perfect cinnamon rolls, part two

Carried on from part one...

Before you proceed with this recipe, I strongly suggest you read through part one.  Why?  Because I detail things in part one that will make a significant difference in your cinnamon roll results.  While this recipe is very detailed, there is a bit of art involved, too.  Making a perfect cinnamon roll is more about understanding and implementing the process than it is about the ingredients and a standard set of directions.  Part one covers things that will help you achieve a great result.  I would go so far as to say, had I understood many of the things I cover in part one, before I undertook this process, I might have found success much sooner than I did.

Read enough cinnamon roll recipe reviews, and the mixed results of the reviewers, you will soon understand there is more involved than most recipes cover.  I've tried to fill in those holes for you in part one and part two.


1/4 cup water (110 degrees)
Healthy pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups bread flour

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk


To a 2 cup measure, add the 1/4 cup of 110 degree water, pinch of sugar and the yeast, and whisk.  If the yeast does not become frothy and active within a few minutes, it's dead, or your water wasn't the correct temperature, and you will need to start again.  If it begins to foam, proceed.

In a small saucepan, combine kosher salt and butter, and heat over medium until butter melts.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

To the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk, add the eggs and sugar, and whisk on speed 6 until smooth and creamy.  Reduce speed to 2, and add the buttermilk and vanilla.  While mixing, add the melted butter and and proofed yeast, and mix until your liquids are smooth and well combined, about a minute.

Switch to your dough hook, attach your mixer shield, and one cup at a time, add your flour, and continue mixing until well combined.  Your dough should remain extremely tacky, and stick slightly to the bottom of your bowl as the mixer works.

After the dough comes together, allow it to mix (knead) for 3-4 minutes on speed two.

Remove mixer bowl from stand, place in your proofing box, and let rise until nearly doubled.  At my elevation and humidity level, this takes about an hour, but this is an extremely variable process, and it may take more or less time in your own kitchen.

When dough has risen as directed, remove from your proofing box, turn out onto a lightly floured, smooth surface, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic, and let rest.

While dough is resting, prepare the filling:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool to lukewarm.  When cooled, add brown sugar and cinnamon, and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Return to your dough, and proceed to roll it into a 24" x 15" rectangle, stretching slightly as you roll to achieve your rectangle.  If the dough is too elastic, let it rest a few more minutes.  It should not spring back excessively as you roll it.


The filling should have started to set up just slightly.  If not, allow it more time to do so.  If it has set too much, you can warm it for a few seconds in the microwave to soften it slightly, but you do not want it runny.  It should be fairly thick.

With a pastry brush working quickly, spread the filling over your dough leaving a 1" margin on the long side furthest from you.


Sprinkle the filling with raisins.


With the long edge of the rectangle closest to you, begin rolling your dough.  Do not roll too tightly.  When you get to the end, moisten the furthest edge (where you left the 1" margin) with water, and finish rolling, lightly pressing to achieve a seal where the dough was moistened.

You can gently re-shape the ends, if they rolled unevely.


With a sharp knife, score the rolled dough every 2".


Take a length of dental floss, and slide it under your roll, where the first score mark is, and bring the ends up and over, tightening to cleanly slice your cinnamon rolls.


At this point, you have a 'fresh or frozen' decision to make.  If you wish to eat them fresh, proceed.  If you wish to freeze them, lay them out, cut side down, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover well (but not tightly) with plastic wrap, and set in your freezer for 4-5 hours.  Transfer to a gallon sized resealable bag, and store in the freezer (up to a month) until ready to bake.

Generously butter a 9" x 12" baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rolls into your prepared baking dish, set in your proofing box, and allow to rise until nearly doubled in size.  In my climate, this is anywhere from 40-60 minutes.

While rolls are rising, prepare your frosting:

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, butter and extracts, and mix until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix after each addition until smooth.  Add milk, and mix until smooth, and slightly runny.  If frosting isn't slightly runny, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the correct consistency is achieved. Cover frosting, and set aside.

When rolls are risen, cover with aluminum foil, and place into the pre-heated oven.  Bake rolls, covered, for 10 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue baking the rolls an additional 12-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Pour frosting over rolls, and serve.

A final note in closing: if you do not achieve an extremely light, 'melt in your mouth' dough, and subtle sweet, cinnamon flavor with your rolls, you have done something wrong, and I encourage you to go back and re-read part one again.  If you follow my detailed instructions, you should end up with the perfect cinnamon roll...or at least my own idea of the perfect cinnamon roll.

The development of this recipe was a labor of love, in honor of my grandmother.  I hope it brings some joy to your own friends and family.  Enjoy.


  1. I made these for a dinner party last night. I will be making them again for Christmas Dinner! They were a huge hit! "These are the best I've ever had!" was said multiple times as people savored every bite last night.
    It was a bit of an experiment for me because my dinner party was an hour away. After consulting with Leslie (Thank you for taking the time to talk with me!), I threw the uncooked rolls into the fridge for a quick chill then set off on the drive. The drive plus a little cushion time was perfect for the second rise! That smell was driving my dog and myself crazy in the car! The smell was even better while they were in the oven! Thank you again Leslie!!!!

    1. I am so glad they turned out well for you, and I was happy to help you. Good job. Thank you for your lovely comment. =) Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!