Big Giant Cinnamon Rolls
Happy new week to you! How was your weekend? Delicious? We had a wonderful time at my friend’s wedding. We had a beautiful beach day, lots of friends around, the food was incredible (crab cakes!!), red velvet cake and banana cupcakes for dessert, and the couple even had a rainbow* appear right before their ceremony. It was one of those picture perfect summer weekends you just didn’t want to end.
So I figure we should extend those weekend vibes into the week and the only way we can TRULY do that is with big fat cinnamon rolls. Extra large, heavy on the gooey cinnamon part, and generous with the cream cheese frosting. Helps make reality a little more manageable when all you want to do is forget your inbox and head straight back to the beach.
It all started with a giant craving last weekend. Breakfasts around here this summer have been a little lackluster. Besides the occasional batch of muffins, it’s been nothing but smoothies, fruit, and/or Lara Bars (lemon is my fave!). Before our new kitchen was usable, I was only cooking/baking as much as I absolutely had to in the basement kitchen. So it was quite rare I’d make our usual big Sunday brunch. Rare meaning, it never happened. We missed it. So the first Sunday the new appliances were working, I put it to test. The new kitchen was christened with big giant cinnamon rolls!!
The dough recipe is pretty familiar. It’s my standard cinnamon roll dough that I use to make overnight cinnamon rolls. And, as of last year, how I make maple cinnamon rolls. A few notable differences though– first, I used buttermilk instead of whole milk. This only slightly changed the texture to be even more rich, but also gave the dough a delicious (and very slight) tang. Buttermilk cinnamon rolls are completely unreal. Then, I cut the rolls to be even larger than I typically do. Cinnabon was on my mind and after a couple hours rising, I had massive cinnamon rolls that took up the entire plate. Though it’s pretty much the same dough recipe, I figured these XXXXL cinnamon rolls needed their own spot on Sally’s Baking Addiction.
The beauty with this dough is that it can be an overnight recipe or you can begin the cinnamon rolls in the early morning to enjoy later on. Overnight is my usual choice, but I didn’t do a very good job planning ahead. And sometimes cinnamon roll cravings hit when you’re totally unprepared. Like when you’re shopping for a new bathing suit at the mall and Cinnabon is right outside the store. Kind of evil, isn’t it?
There are two dough rises. Once the dough is prepared, allow it to rise until doubled in size. This will be the first rise. Once risen, roll the dough out and fill with a combination of softened butter, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Basically life’s best ingredients. Delicious separate, but even better together. Then roll the dough up, cut into giant pieces, and allow to rise for the second time. The second rise can be overnight or in the morning, just make sure the rolls are covered and placed in the refrigerator if using the overnight option.
But actually real quick, let me explain how large these are. Usually this amount of dough makes 12 rolls. Today it’s only making 8. So not only are the rolls bigger, they’re pretty fat too. (I feel like the only appropriate words to describe the best cinnamon rolls are big and fat.)
Above: before the rise.
Below: after the rise.
Currently: mouth watering.
After you bake the big giant cinnamon rolls, you’ll wonder why you waited all summer to make big giant cinnamon rolls. Scratch that, the feeling will come when you smell the cinnamon rolls baking. And linger as you swipe cream cheese frosting on each one and hang around until after you take that last big giant bite. This is awesome, my kitchen smells like Cinnabon. And I didn’t even have to leave the house to get there!
After we devoured 1 cinnamon roll each because they are absolutely the size of your head, we sunk into the couch (with the dishwasher running YES!) and watched 3 hours of Netflix before playing with the dogs outside. Now that’s the weekend!
Big Giant Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk1
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (14g) active dry yeast (2 standard size packets)
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 cups (558g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for dusting/rolling
- 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup or 56g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups (150g) confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the dough: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until lukewarm-- no need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95°F (35°C). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer OR no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). With a spoon, manually stir in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. This is called proofing your yeast. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Next add the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. The butter won't really be mixing into the mixture, so don't be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 - 2 hours. Here's what I do: turn the oven on to 250°F (121°C). Turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
- Butter/grease/spray with nonstick spray the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, then line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 10x16 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
- For the filling: Spread the softened butter all over the dough. In a small bowl, toss the cinnamon and sugar together until combined and then sprinkle evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 16 inch long log. If some filling spills out, that's ok just sprinkle it on top of the rolls. Cut into 8 large rolls (about 2 inches in width each). Arrange them in the prepared baking pan. Cover the rolls very tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap (no rolls exposed, this dries out your dough!) and allow to rise until the rolls are doubled in size, about 2 hours. OR stick in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
- If the rolls rose overnight in the fridge, remove rolls from the refrigerator and let rise in a warm place just as you did in step 2 until they are puffy, about 1-2 hours. Mine usually take 1 and 1/2 hours.
- After the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don't brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Using a knife, spread the frosting over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerator for 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here's how: let the rolls rise overnight through step 4, then the next morning do step 5. Then, bake the rolls for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. Take the rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them.
- Buttermilk or whole milk are preferred for richest tasting dough. 2% or 1% would be fine, but not ideal. Nonfat is not recommended.
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*Seriously how rare to have a rainbow on your wedding day! 🙂
Try my maple cinnamon rolls next!