These birthday cake cinnamon rolls are like a cross between cinnamon rolls and confetti cake. The powdered coffee creamer is a non-negotiable in the filling, because it adds a creamy-like texture. Top the soft and sprinkle-loaded rolls with vanilla or cream cheese icing. You can make the birthday rolls within a few hours, or get started the night before using the overnight option in the Note below.
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (14g) active dry or instant yeast (2 standard size packets)*
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 cups (563g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil for bowl (or use nonstick spray)
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature & divided
- 2/3 cup (84g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (16g) powdered coffee creamer or nonfat instant dry milk (do *not* omit)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (85g) rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
- 4 ounces (113g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (30ml) whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- optional: extra sprinkles for garnish
- Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and the yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.*
- On medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar (which should be 1/2 cup/100g) and the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium speed until combined. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. Switch the mixer down to low speed and with it running, add 1 cup of flour at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated before adding the next. After 4 cups have been added, add the last 1/2 cup and beat until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Dough will be soft.
- Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer (and switch to the dough hook if you used the paddle) and beat on low speed for an additional 5 minutes OR knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, keep a small bowl of flour nearby to continually flour your hands, as the dough can be quite sticky. After kneading, poke the dough with your finger—if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
- 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
- Grease the bottom and sides of a metal or glass 9×13-inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
- Make the filling: Melt 2 Tablespoons (28g) of the butter. Reserve the rest for step 8. Whisk the flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered coffee creamer, and salt together. Using a fork, mix in the melted butter and the vanilla extract until crumbly. Mix in the sprinkles. (*You will use the cinnamon in the next step.*)
- Spread dough with the remaining butter (6 Tablespoons). Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon, and then the sprinkle filling mixture evenly on top. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 12 even rolls, about 1.5 inches each. Arrange in the prepared baking pan.
- 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option in the Notes below.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake for about 25–28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. About halfway through baking time, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
- Make the icing: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream/milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Spread the icing over the warm rolls, garnish with extra sprinkles if desired, and serve immediately.
- Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 8. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8–12 hours. (16 hours max. 8–12 hours is best, but 16 hours is OK if absolutely needed. Do not exceed 16 hours.) The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1–2 hours before continuing with step 10.
- Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 15–20 minutes.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | 9×13-Inch Glass Baking Pan or Metal Baking Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the best, richest-tasting dough. You could also use buttermilk. Reduced-fat, low-fat, or nondairy milk works in a pinch. Do not use nonfat milk.
- Yeast: You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually slightly longer. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
- Vanilla: I love using vanilla bean paste in this recipe because it combines both extract AND vanilla bean seeds, and tastes phenomenal in the dough AND icing. You can, of course, use pure vanilla extract instead.
- Powdered Coffee Creamer: This ingredient is important in the filling. It adds a creamy-like consistency and taste to the filling, which helps the filling replicate cake mix or cake batter. If you don’t have it, you can use the same amount of nonfat instant dry milk instead.
- Alternate Icing Option: Instead of cream cheese icing, you can top the warm rolls with vanilla icing.
Keywords: cake batter cinnamon rolls, birthday cinnamon rolls