The very best Cinnamon Rolls that can be made in just a few hours!
Cinnamon rolls are amazing. Given that statement, it is surprising that this was not one of the first recipes analyzed. However, we have finally applied analysis to these delicious baked goods and are happy with the results. We intend to follow this up with other roll and swirl recipes, but for this first one we wanted to focus on a typical brown sugar and cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting. In other words, a classic cinnamon roll.
For the dough, one of the key elements is of course yeast. Most recipes, regardless of flour amounts, stuck with a single instant yeast packet (2.25 tsp). However, this resulted in a 6 cups of flour recipe with the same yeast as a 3 cups of flour recipe… which as you can imagine might yield pretty different results. To keep the cinnamon rolls fluffy, we kept our ratio above the pack, using 4.5 tsp for 5 cups of flour. Additionally, in the dough, we kept it simple with just eggs, butter, and milk as the core source of fluids. Some recipes used different oils, yogurts and even water, but we felt it was best to take the simplest and more traditional approach. We did not want the dough to be dry, so we made sure to keep fluids in above average proportion (especially in Colorado).
Next up is the filling. Not only it is essential to have enough of it to go with the amount of dough, but it also need to have the right flavor and texture. We designed our filling to be universally “above average.” Every element, the brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and salt, are in above average proportion to the dough so that every bite not only has enough filling, but that filling really packs a punch. The ratio between the filling was designed to produce a sandy texture. Just enough butter to be spreadable but no more to prevent it from leaking everywhere during the baking process.
Finally, the frosting. It’s hard to mess up a cream cheese frosting, but nonetheless we wanted to make sure it would be just right. We used one of our existing frostings since they are pretty universal, and we didn’t feel the need to custom fit one to these cinnamon rolls. The frosting complements the rich brown sugar filling on a fluffy sweet dough with a slightly acidic but creamy and sweet topping. Once again, making sure there is enough frosting for every bite will ensure the cinnamon roll is good throughout.
The final note is around assembly. When creating the rolls, you will have a long single roll, and you have some flexibility for cutting depending on how many you want. Our roll went out to 24 inches. Cutting each of them an inch would yield 24 cinnamon rolls. We went with 16 1.5-inch rolls, which was a balance between size and quantity. For super-sized rolls you could go all the way to 2-inch rolls, just make sure it has enough space to rise and spring in the oven. On that note, we saw two different approaches. If you do a small number per dish very spread out, you get large and fluffy cinnamon rolls (like real rolls). This however will likely result in multiple batches. The second approach is more efficient, packing the dish full of rolls, but will yield more compact square-looking rolls. The choice is up to you (we did both) and we promise you they are delicious both ways!