Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch

On Mondays, I try to surprise the hubby and our oldest son with something homemade that they can eat on their way out the door to start their work or school week. So yesterday, I surprised them with some homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve reviewed a gazillion cinnamon roll recipes over the years and put together our own special recipe taking bits and pieces from various recipes. Cinnamon Rolls aren’t difficult to make but you do need time to let the dough rise twice. You can help along the process with a trick I have learned about yeast dough (see the NOTE at the bottom of this post). Who doesn’t love ooey, gooey, buttery and sweet cinnamon rolls?! Whoever you are, we are not and never will be friends, lol! Make this for your Valentine! Shape your rolls into a heart!

Printable Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch

Ingredients:

Dough: 

  • 1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast 

  • 1/2 cup warm water 

  • 1/4 cup sugar 

  • 1/2 cup hot milk 

  • 1/3 cup butter/margarine 

  • 1 tsp. salt 

  • 1 egg 

  • 4 cups flour

Filling:  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter/margarine

  • 1/2 cup sugar 

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 

  • Raisins and/or pecans (optional)

Glaze: 

  • 4 tablespoons butter/margarine, melted 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar 

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

  • 3-6 tablespoons of hot water

Directions:

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

How warm? It should feel like warm water you would use to take a nice bubble bath in. Test the water temp on your inner wrist. If it is a temperature you think would be comfortable to take a relaxing bath in then the water temperature will be perfect to activate the yeast. You know it is activated because it will create these tiny bubbles and get all frothy on top. Heavily grease a large bowl, set aside.

In a glass measuring cup (that can be put in a microwave), measure out 1/2 cup of milk. Then add the butter/margarine to the glass measuring cup. If using a stick of butter/margarine, 1/3 cup = 5 1/3 tabs. Place the measuring cup in the microwave and heat until milk is hot and butter is melted (between 45-60 seconds).

In another large bowl (not the greased one) add the milk/butter mix, sugar, salt and egg.  Whisk till well combined. Add two cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture and mix till well incorporated. Mix in remaining 2 cups of flour one cup at a time until dough is easy to handle.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5-7 minutes. Kneading dough is fun, think about what or who has annoyed you recently and ground that negativity right into the dough with your fists while taking in deep breaths and whispering “woosah”. You will feel so much better and your dough will love you for it.

Place dough ball into the greased bowl and let rise until doubled, usually one to one-and-a-half hours.

When doubled, punch down the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough into approximately a 15×9 inch rectangle.

Pour melted butter/margarine in the center of the rolled out dough, reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the melted butter/margarine (set aside). Using a pastry brush, brush the butter puddle all over the dough to the edges.

Mix sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mix evenly over the buttered dough, reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mix, set aside.

Evenly sprinkle pecans or raisins over the dough if desired.

On the long side of the dough, roll the dough up. Some of the buttery sugar mix may seep out (I just used the pastry brush to brush that excess on top of the cinnamon roll once it was laid in the prepared pan).

Using a sharp knife, piece of string or unwaxed dental floss, cut roll into approximately one inch slices. I cut up 12 slices that were about 1.5 inches in width. This allowed me to put 3 rows of rolls (with 4 across) in the pan. If using string or floss, cut a piece of string/floss approximately one foot in length. Slide the center of the string under the roll of dough, pull string/floss ends up, cross over your hands and pull strings out sideways (you are essentially pinching off the dough). The string/floss method will keep the cinnamon roll in a more circular shape. I just used a sharp knife, my family loves it anyway I can cut it! Coat bottom of baking pan with the remainder of the melted butter/margarine and sprinkle the remainder of the sugar/cinnamon mix on top of the melted butter.

Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan. If wanting to create a heart shape, roll one long edge toward the middle and stop. On the opposite long edge, roll toward the middle and stop (both rolls should be bumped up next to each other). Slice.

When placing the heart in the pan, pinch the bottom point of the heart. Lay hearts in the pan so that the bottom point of one heart faces the indented middle section of the top of another heart. See photo. When dough rises for second time, the hearts may become out of shape. Use a butter knives to pinch the bottom point of the heart prior to placing in the oven.

Let rise again until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

While cinnamon rolls are baking, whisk together the melted butter/margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and all the powdered sugar clumps have dissolved.

Add hot water one tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches your desired consistency (I only had to add 1 tablespoon for my glaze). Since butter is the base, this glaze is an amazing, buttery and sweet bliss of a concoction! It is to die for!

Spread glaze evenly over the slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.

NOTE: If you are pressed for time, you can use your microwave to help the dough rise faster during the first rise. Warm microwave by heating up something (like leftovers) for around 5 minutes along with approximately 1/2 cup of water in its own microwave-safe bowl. It is not recommended to heat the microwave without something inside of it (a bowl of water doesn’t count), I hear that is bad for your microwave and well, we like our microwave so I just heated up some leftovers since I had the munchies. Place the bowl of dough in the microwave leaving the bowl of water inside too. Do not turn on the microwave and keep the door shut. The warm and moist environment will help the dough rise usually in 30-40 minutes. I used the same trick for the second rising. No, I didn’t make me more food to eat, lol. This time I heated up Spencer’s mac-n-cheese for him. For the second rise it only took 15 minutes doing this trick. These photos may look like I’ve used a gazillion different bowls, lol. This is because they were taken when I made a batch of normal cinnamon rolls and the next day I also took photos of making the cinnamon rolls in a heart shape. So it’s two days worth of baking and photography!

Enjoy!

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