An easy recipe for perfect soft homemade cinnamon rolls. Super soft and fluffy rolls with a gooey brown sugar filling and luscious cream cheese frosting.
Big, soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls with a sweet gooey filling are the dream. I don't think anyone can hate cinnamon rolls. Their existence in itself is so warm and comforting, and the feeling when you bite into a freshly baked roll is like a big hug.
With so many cinnamon roll recipes out there it can be intimidating to choose one, and in my opinion most of them are amazing! The problem is how do you tell them apart? When I develop a recipe for something that is so widely made, the best place to start is with what we have!
How I developed the perfect recipe
To create this recipe I've analysed the ratios of ingredients in all the popular recipes, or recipes that I have tried and loved, to find the "golden ratio". This is a pretty basic concept in baking, as there will always be a perfect ratio of the ingredients to deliver the best result! We can use all the recipes available to us as the trials in this process to finding that ratio and find similarities in all the recipes to give us the ultimate recipe.
This is the first time I'm revealing the process behind my recipes! This is a screenshot of my final spreadsheet for finding the best cinnamon roll recipe. Before this one there were a couple more I used to narrow down the final candidates. You'll notice I've pulled some of the most common ratios, and mixed that with my knowledge of baking.
I wanted this to be a rich and flavourful cinnamon roll, so I wanted an extra egg yolk in there for more flavour and fat. I also wanted a soft and fluffy bread roll, and to achieve this the bread needs a higher percentage of sugar and hydration. And after a couple of trials of my base ratios from this spreadsheet I bring you my final version!
How to do the perfect roll
I'm sure you look at all the cinnamon rolls and think, how do they make the swirl of cinnamon so perfect? Well I'll tell you now!
- Use chilled dough
- I like to do my first rise in the fridge as this allows the butter to set. This isn't essential as it is more for the aesthetic.
- Instead of letting the dough rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size leave the dough in a warm place for 30 minutes, then place it in the fridge to rise for 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
- Chilled dough is a lot firmer and easier to handle. This will make it easier to roll the cinnamon roll perfectly and achieve the perfect shape
- Roll out a perfect rectangle
- This might be a little difficult, but having a perfect rectangle to work with will make sure that the cinnamon log is even, and thus every roll cut from it will be the same
- Using you rolling pin and hands ease the dough into a perfect rectangle. Pulling the corners out if necessary!
- Roll tightly
- The tighter you roll the dough the rounder the cinnamon roll and the more perfect the swirl of cinnamon
- Use string or dental floss to cut the rolls
- This is the easiest way to make sure none of the rolls are flattened or squashed when slicing them
- Simply wrap the string around the line you would slice and pull the two ends of string to cut
Frequently asked questions
How do I know when my rolls are done?
When your rolls are done they should look risen and golden brown.
To double check that the centre is fully baked, take them out of the oven and lightly pull in the side of a centre cinnamon roll with a fork. If the dough looks raw and gooey the rolls need more time in the oven.
Continue to bake them, and check again every 5 minutes. If the centre looks fluffy and bread-like then it's ready!
Is bread flour better for cinnamon rolls?
The type of flour you use depends on the final result you're after. When it comes to cinnamon rolls they are a cross between a cake and a bread, this results in that soft, sweet dough. However, if you want your roll to have more structure and a more bread-like consistency then use bread flour!
It all comes down to personal preference, but I would use regular flour for that classic soft cinnamon roll 😉
What happens if I add too much flour to my rolls?
Sometimes you will need to add more flour to your rolls as it is too sticky to handle, and in that case there shouldn't be any large differences in the final result. However, if that isn't the case and you've just gone overboard with the flour your cinnamon rolls could turn out drier and denser than normal.
Can cinnamon rolls rise for too long?
Yes definitely! If you let your cinnamon rolls rise for too long you can over-proof them. This can lead to dense rolls or rolls that collapse after baking.
How do I know when my rolls are ready to be baked?
You can check on your cinnamon rolls as they are proofing to make sure you bake them at the perfect time.
When you poke the rolls the dough should have a light bounce back while leaving an indent when your finger touched.
At this point the dough is ready to be baked!
Can I let these rise overnight?
Yes! Proofing these overnight is the easiest way to have soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls in the morning. After you have rolled the dough and placed it in the tin, cover it with cling wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. The next morning take them out and bake them for 35-40 minutes. You might find they take longer as they start baking at a cooler temperature. Just check on them and bake for longer if needed.
My cinnamon rolls didn't rise?
The most important part of making bread is making sure your yeast is alive! If your yeast isn't alive the bread won't rise.
Also make sure you are using the right kind of yeast. I use instant yeast in my recipe. Instant yeast doesn't need to be activated and can be added straight into the rest of the ingredients.
On the other hand active yeast needs to be activated in warm water with sugar or milk before being added. You will also need to use more active yeast than instant yeast. As a general measure you'll need 25% more active yeast than instant.
I'm aware that most people won't know the difference between the two and will use them interchangeably, so I've adjusted the recipe so that both active and instant will work!
Why are my cinnamon rolls tough?
There are a couple of possibilities:
- The dough wasn't proofed enough (See "How do I know when my rolls are ready to be baked" above)
- The dough was over-proofed (See "Can cinnamon rolls rise for too long?" above)
- Too much flour was added to the rolls (See "What happens if I add too much flour to my rolls?' above)
Why are my cinnamon rolls dry?
A few possibilities!
- They were over-baked
- This could be because your oven is too hot or you used a pan that was larger than the one in the recipe
- Too much flour was added to the dough
- Not enough milk was added to the dough
My cinnamon rolls collapsed?
Cinnamon rolls will collapse if there isn't enough structure to hold them up. This could happen if...
- The rolls were over-proofed
- If the rolls are over-proofed, the yeast has expended all it's energy and won't have the ability to expand further during the bake
- The rolls were under-baked
- If they aren't baked fully they will look tall and fluffy, but fall as they cool
- There was too much moisture in the dough
- The amount of moisture your flour absorbs will differ according to the type of flour you're using and the humidity of your environment. While you can follow a recipe, make sure to check on the tackiness of the dough as well! The dough should be slightly tacky, but not to the point that it is hard to handle.
My filling has seeped out of my rolls!
This can happen sometimes! It depends on the temperature you're proofing them at and for how long they are being proofed. If you are letting them rise in the fridge overnight the sugar will often melt into the bottom of the pan. This can be fixed!
Once the rolls have baked flip the pan and let them cool upside down. This lets the sugar seep back into the rolls.
Let's Get Baking
At this point I think I might've written a bible for the cinnamon roll... but that just means you guys have all the resources you need to create the perfect cinnamon roll.
If you make this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to hear how it went.
Also don't forget to tag me on instagram @catherine.justdessertsau and hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts!Print
Soft Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Sweet Bun Dough
- 240 g Whole milk (1 cup), lightly warmed
- 100 g White sugar (½ cup)
- 2 ¼ tsp Instant yeast
- 1 Egg
- 1 Egg yolk
- 500 g Plain flour (3 cups)
- 105 g Unsalted butter, softened (⅓ cup 2 tbsp)
- 130g Brown sugar (⅔ cup)
- 60g Unsalted butter (¼ cup), melted
- 2 tbsp Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 140g Cream cheese (5 oz), room temperature
- 60g Unsalted butter (¼ cup), room temperature
- 100g Icing sugar (1 cup)
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
Sweet Bun Dough
- Combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar, leave aside and allow to foam for 5 minutes
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment add the flour, milk mixture, egg and egg yolk
- Mix on low until the dough comes together into a rough ball
- Turn up to medium and continue kneading for 1 minute
- Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time, kneading in between each addition
- Once all the butter has been added continue kneading the dough on medium speed for 5- 10 minutes; the dough should be super smooth and soft
- Roll the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl
- Cover with cling wrap and proof in a warm place for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size
- Combine the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix until smooth
- Transfer the proofed dough onto a bench top and roll it out into a large rectangle, about 5 mm thick
- Using a palette knife spread the cinnamon sugar filling over the dough in a thin and even layer
- With the shorter side of the rectangle facing you, roll the dough into a tight log
- Cut the log into 9 even slices and place evenly spaced in a 8 x 8 inch pan
- Cover loosely with cling wrap and place in a warm place to proof for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 170°C
- Bake for 30-35 mins, or until golden brown and cooked through
- Check the dough is ready by pulling away an edge of the centre roll, it should look fluffy and bread-like, if not bake for another 5-10 minutes
- Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before spreading over the cream cheese frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth
- Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract
- Mix on low until combined, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy
- Spread over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!