The history of the cinnamon roll may seem like a masterclass in global cuisine. The Europeans may be credited with the creation of buttery rich dough. The French shaped the buns, the Dutch added the frying, the Germans rolled them with sugar and currants, and the English came up with the Chelsea bun. The cinnamon itself was no native to these countries. It came from the tiny island of Sri Lanka. So, we have a mix of colonialism, global commerce, and the ever-evolving baking traditions of the Europeans.
Today the cinnamon roll is a breakfast staple, often bought along with a coffee from the nearest shop. It’s almost a national institution in Sweden where it has its own day and a festival. Kanelbullar, as it is known in Sweden, is slightly different from its American counterpart. It has a hint of cardamom and does not come with any icing.
Best Breakfast Cinnamon Roll
It’s easy to see why cinnamon rolls make such a great breakfast. The sweetness is a perfect contrast to a nice bitter cup of coffee. Then there is the recipe, which is best suited to breakfast. The dough needs to rise twice. Once, to let the flour and yeast do their magic, and later to allow the rolled dough to rise and take shape. So while the actual kneading and shaping do not take time, you will need time to allow the dough to rise.
You can roll out the dough a day before, shape it and let it rise overnight. Just pop it in the oven when you get up. Your rolls should be ready by the time your coffee gets brewed. Yes, you can easily buy these from a nearby bakery. So, why bother? The truth is that homemade cinnamon rolls are really special. The buttery dough with its warm cinnamon taste is best eaten warm.
How to Make a Cinnamon Roll?
This is a flexible recipe where you can adjust the spices, sugar, and icing. You can adjust the sugar content according to your taste. Use a generous amount of icing for a rich and special treat or use it sparingly if you want lighter rolls.
Breakfast Cinnamon Roll Recipe
For the Cinnamon Roll
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 tbsp butter softened
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
Cream cheese frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup milk/cream
- 2 cups powdered sugar 
- You can make the dough in a stand mixer or by hand. If you use the stand mixer, use the dough hook. Soak your milk and yeast in its bowl. If you are making it by hand, prepare the yeast, and then add it to a larger bowl along with other ingredients.
- For the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the milk in a large bowl and set it aside. The yeast will become bubbly or a little spongy in appearance after some time. Once the yeast is activated, add the softened butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- If you are working with a stand mixer, add 1 cup of flour at a time and let it go till you get a ball of dough. Take it out and start kneading by hand. If you are kneading by hand from the start, add the wet mix to the flour and then bring it all together. The dough will be a little wet and sticky at the beginning. Work on a floured surface till the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Grease a large bowl and place the kneaded dough inside. Cover this with a damp kitchen towel and keep it in a warm place to rise. This should take about an hour or two.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Cream the butter with the cinnamon and brown sugar. You should have a nice buttery homogenous mix.
- Once the dough has risen, gently press it down to release the air. Take out the dough ball and put it on a floured surface.
- Roll out the dough in a large rectangular shape. It should be about quarter-inch thick.
- Spread this dough sheet with the cinnamon filling. Make sure the filling is spread evenly.
- Start rolling the dough along the long side. Keep stretching to ensure that it is rolled into a tight and taut roll.
- Take a bench scraper or a sharp knife and start making cuts on the roll. Make sure all the cuts are of the same size.
- Grease a 9-inch baking dish and place the dough balls so that the cut surface with its cinnamon speckled swirls face up. Cover the dish with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place for the dough to get its second rising. The rolls will double in size. This will take 45 minutes.
- Bake at 350º F for 10-15 minutes.
- For the icing, beat the cream cheese, vanilla extract, butter/milk/cream together. Add the sugar 1 teaspoon at a time and keep checking the flavor. Stop when you have the consistency you want.
- Pour the icing over the rolls and serve warm.
Make Ahead: You can make the rolls a day ahead. Follow the recipe till the baking part. Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel or an aluminum sheet and put it in the fridge. In the morning, take out the pan with the rolls and let it come to room temperature before baking. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls for up to 2 months for a ready-to-eat breakfast treat anytime you want.
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