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Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
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Take the stress out of the ultimate breakfast treat with an easy recipe for Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting.
We all have that airport food vice, the one item we make a beeline for once cleared through security. For me, it depends on the airport.
At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, it’s Garrett Popcorn (a mix of their caramel corn and cheesy popcorn, to be exact). At New York’s JFK Airport, it’s a Shake Shack burger and fries. And at just about every other airport in America, it’s a Cinnabon cinnamon roll.
I can sniff out the wafting aroma of warm butter mixing with cinnamon and sugar at least 14 gates away.
I walk closer and closer, as the smell intensifies. And then, inevitably, I arrive at the Cinnabon counter and a friendly face is rolling, filling, slicing and icing cinnamon roll after cinnamon roll after cinnamon roll.
Are homemade cinnamon rolls a labor of love? You bet! But with a few simple tricks for how to successfully start and then stop the prep, you can in fact master Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls.
Check out the swirled beauties below. They’re all ready for stashing in your fridge, which means you’re 90% of the way there.
Then all that’s left to do in the morning is pop them into the oven and start sippin’ on your mimosa while you whip up the topping.
Warm cinnamon rolls, meet the lightest, tangiest cream cheese frosting to ever slather your buns.
And that right there is a big-time breakfast win. Cinnamony, swirly, buttery, better-than-Cinnabon perfection.
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Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cinnamon roll dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (one 3/4-oz. packet) active dry yeast
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
- 2 large eggs, at room temp
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temp
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
- 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Make the cinnamon roll dough:
Warm the milk and butter on the stovetop or in the microwave until it is warm but not hot to the touch (it should be below 110°F). Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast to the milk, stirring to combine, then set it aside for 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add the yeast mixture and eggs and mix for 8 minutes until dough is smooth. (The dough will be slightly tacky.) Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, dark place to proof until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
Lightly flour your work surface then scrape the dough out, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is 1/4-inch thick.
Brush the melted butter generously over the dough.
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle it atop the melted butter. Starting at the long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough up into a tight log, then using a sharp knife, slice the log into 12 2-inch rounds.
Arrange the rounds in the prepared baking sheet (discarding any smaller ends). Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place the baking sheet in a warm, dark place to allow the cinnamon rolls to rise a second time for about 30 minutes. (Note: This is the point at which you can cover the pan securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the rolls overnight. Continue with the recipe as directed on the day of baking.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 15 minutes or until they are pale golden. (Note: If you are baking the cinnamon rolls directly from the fridge, add about 10 minutes to your bake time.)
While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the cream cheese frosting.
Make the cream cheese frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Add the vanilla extract, buttermilk, salt and confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined.
Spread generously over completely cooled cinnamon rolls. Best served immediately.
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