Ever since I saw Lisa's cinnamon roll pictures, I've been secretly craving them. Every time I see a recipe for cinnamon rolls, I know they are my baking destiny. The hang up? I always want them for breakfast and don't want to take the time to make them before I'm going to want to eat breakfast (read: I don't want to get up early enough to make them in time for breakfast!). Until now. I called up dear Lisa and discussed the glorious-looking cinnamon roll recipe. As is often the case when two great minds put their heads together, we trouble shot the get-up-early dilemma. Here is the truly wonderful result: make ahead cinnamon rolls. Like all great recipes, this one is the product of testing in home kitchens, tweaking of other people's recipes, and a different spin by Lisa and me. This dough also contains baking powder and baking soda, in addition to the yeast, so it rises more quickly even without the make ahead option. Choose your favorite method and enjoy (I should say that in my scientific testing here, I made one pan the regular way and stuck one pan in the fridge until morning--just to make sure I was testing fairly...of course that was my rationale... my family of five gave the first pan a good rating but the pan that sat in the fridge and was baked the next morning... Oh. my. goodness. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yeastier flavor, gooey-er filling--and they came from the same big rolled up batch of dough. I simply cut half and put in one pan; cut the other half and put in another pan.)
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 pkg. yeast (2 1/4 t.)
- 1/3 c. oil
- 1 1/4 c. warm water
- 1 t. salt
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1 1/4 t. baking soda
- 1 egg
- 3-4 (or more) cups flour
- 1/4-1/2 c. melted butter
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 T. cinnamon
- Cream Cheese Icing
- Mix together sugar, yeast, oil, and water. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and egg. Mix well. Mix in flour 1 cup at a time. I use about 3 1/2 cups, adding plenty to the board when I roll the dough out. Lisa uses closer to 4 cups.
- Let the dough rise 15 minutes.
- Roll out into a rectangle, 1/4-1/3 inch thick. (Flour your board well! You may need to just use a countertop; this rectangle is pretty big).
- Spread the rectangle with 1/4-1/2 cup melted butter. I use about 1/4 cup on this step and then drizzle the unbaked, still rising rolls with the rest. Lisa uses all 1/2 cup on this step. Clearly we both love us some butter.
- Sprinkle the butter-covered dough with the 1/2 cup of sugar and then the cinnamon.
- Roll up (you can use a dough scraper to help roll it up if necessary).
- Cut into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch thick rounds (depends on how big you want your rolls). Dental floss makes and ideal "cutter"--simply slide a strand under the roll at the place you want to cut, pull the opposing ends across each other through the dough, and voila: a nicely cut little roll. Place in buttered baking dishes (1 9x13-inch pan, 2 8x8-inch pans, or 2 cake pans). Drizzle with the extra melted butter if you'd like.
- Let rise in preheated 170-degree oven (turn oven off before putting rolls in) for 20 minutes. OR, cover tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 425-degree oven (obviously you'll have to pull the rising rolls out while you preheat the oven). Let the refrigerated rolls come to room temperature and/or place them in a warm oven to rise a bit before baking.
- Spread with cream cheese icing while rolls are hot out of the oven.
Cream Cheese Icing:
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 c. butter, softened
- 1 t. vanilla
- 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- milk (a few tablespoons)
Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. While beating, pour in a couple of tablespoons of milk. Add more if needed to get a good spreading consistency (the icing will melt a touch on the hot rolls, but you do want it a little thinner than your usual cream cheese frosting).
This made about 16 rolls for me--pretty good sized, but not Cinnabon ginormous rolls.
Another make-ahead tip that I think should work great: underbake the rolls slightly, cool, and freeze. The day you want to eat them, bake thawed rolls another 5 minutes or so at 425 degrees and top with cream cheese icing.