Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls – you heard me right. These certainly rival the ones you can buy at the mall kiosk, and you may even like them more, as nothing tastes as good as something that you make with your own two hands (or, in my case, something made by your husband’s own two hands). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kramer is the bread master, and believe me, it’s a trait that I encourage. I’d never pass up any form of freshly baked bread, especially cinnamon rolls. Kramer put all of the hard work into making these, and I put a lot of dedication into devouring them. That’s what I call team work! I had already taken many a bite when Kramer told me, however, that the filling used margarine instead of real butter. I was shocked and appalled. How could he? Doesn’t he know that that’s basically food blasphemy? He begged me to allow him to explain and I sat there, cinnamon roll in hand, waiting for him to do so. Butter, he told me, melts into the dough too easily while baking, making the cinnamon rolls soggy and dense. The margarine, however, sits nicely on top of of the dough during the baking process, making for light, fluffy, and utterly delicious cinnamon rolls. Well, he wasn’t wrong there! That is one of the Cinnabon secrets, apparently, and it makes sense, seeing as how Cinnabon is an inexpensive fast food chain and it probably isn’t cost effective to use butter all of the time. I was happy to see that he used real butter in the icing and the dough itself, though. I urge you to rid yourself of any margarine fears and try making your cinnamon rolls this way – you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll save a few bucks to boot. These are some of the fluffiest, most delicate, mouth-watering cinnamon rolls you’ll ever have!
Then add in bread flour and wheat gluten. Make a well in the flour, and all the yeast into the well, being sure that the yeast is not touching any of the liquid ingredients. Set the machine on the dough setting.
Place your cinnamon rolls in your preferred (and greased) pan. We used 9-inch cake rounds, with 5 rolls in each pan. You want to be sure that they are touching, but not too close together. Place a clean towel over each pan and allow the cinnamon rolls to proof in a warm, dry area for at least 1 hour, until they about double in size. Bake at 335 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until just barely golden.
While the cinnamon rolls bake, make your frosting by beating together your cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. If you like, you can use a bit of lemon extract or lemon zest for extra flavor, but it’s not necessary.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but we used 1%)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 large egg, room temperature and lightly beaten
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4½ cups unbleached white bread flour
- 1 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (this is essential for soft dough – you can find it at any “health food” store, such as Whole Foods)
- 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) of instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup margarine
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest (optional)
- Mix your melted butter together with the milk, egg, vanilla extract, and water. Be sure that everything is at room temperature, as anything too hot or too cold will effect the yeast during the kneading process.
- Pour the liquids and the remaining dough ingredients to your breadmaker in the following order: the combined butter, milk, egg, vanilla, and water, followed by the salt and sugar, then the flour, wheat gluten and yeast. You should be sure to make a well in the flour so that none of the yeast is touching the wet ingredients. Set your bread maker to the dough cycle and let it run its course.
- While the bread maker is preparing your dough, bring the margarine to room temperature. You may be wondering why evil margarine is used in this recipe in place of butter. Well, margarine is used because while butter would just bleed through the dough and possibly hinder the rising of the dough, margarine will sit on the dough as it is supposed to, allowing for maximum rising capability. I promise, it’s worth it! I was a bit taken aback by the idea of margarine at first, but the results sold me on the idea. Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Once your dough is ready, roll it out over a lightly floured surface into a 15-inch by 24-inch rectangle, cutting off any edges to make a perfectly even rectangle. Spread your margarine evenly over the surface of the rectangle as evenly as possible, making sure to leave a 1-inch by 24-inch strip at the end of the dough uncovered so that you can seal the dough when you roll it up. Be careful of this, because the dough will not stick together if isn’t clean. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the margarine, being mindful of the 1-inch edge.
- Starting with the edge furthest away from you, roll the dough tightly toward you – work at an even pace so that the dough stays as tight as possible.Cut off about 1-inch edge of each side of the dough so that you can see the filling; this makes for prettier cinnamon rolls. Mark your roll in 1½-inch segments using a knife to make shallow cuts – this is to be sure that all of your rolls are equal sizes and, in turn, bake evenly. Using a sharp knife or thin string or twine, cut the rolls into even parts.
- Grease your baking pans with butter or non-stick spray; we used 9-inch cake pans and a cast iron pan, so whatever you have should do fine. For the 9-inch pans, we put 5 rolls in each one (four in the corners and one in the middle). Be sure to leave about a 1-inch space between each roll. Cover the rolls with a dry, clean cloth and let sit in a warm, dry spot for 1 hour, or until they have doubled in size. Once the rolls have finished rising (or in this case, proofing), preheat your oven to 335 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Drizzle the hot cinnamon rolls with your cream cheese frosting (see below) and serve warm.
- Whisk together your flour and salt and set aside. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the liquid concoction from step 1 above. Carefully mix in your flour with a dough hook or wooden spoon, about ½ cup at a time, until smooth. The ball will be sticky, but firm enough to form into a ball. Alternatively you can do this in your stand mixer with a dough hook, mix on the second speed until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
- Lightly flour your hands and your work surface. Place the dough onto the work surface and begin to knead by form the dough into a ball and continuously pulling the dough over itself, like you were trying to work food coloring evenly into the dough. You want to keep stretching the dough and then pushing it back into itself, using your palms as much as possible and work as quickly as possible. Add a small dusting of flour as needed. Knead your dough continuously for 15 minutes.
- When your dough is ready, allow it to rise for 1 hour, either in the bread machine or in a bowl covered with a warm, slightly damp cloth.
- Beat together the cream cheese and butter for at least 1 minute, until creamy. Using your whisk attachment, whisk the frosting for at least another 8 minutes, until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, then add in the vanilla and lemon zest, if you like. If you feel it’s too stiff, you can add in a little milk, and if you feel it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. Drizzle over the hot cinnamon rolls.