Big Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

As soon as I tried The Greatest Dinner Rolls Ever, I knew this would happen.

Those buns were exactly the kind of soft, fluffy bread that would make an amazing cinnamon roll.

And oh yes, they did!

The best part? They’re really, really easy to make. They just take time … like any double-rising bread product.

So, it’s all the same goodness of those fluffy dinner rolls, turned into a butter-slathered pinwheel of cinnamon sugar and bathed in a vanilla cream cheese frosting.

The main difference, after punching it down, instead of dividing it into balls, you roll it out into a big thin sheet.

Punching down the dough.

I tried to get it to around 13×21″. 21″ wide gives you exactly 12 pieces at 1 3/4″ each. Makes dividing them evenly easier.

One tip I found helpful, with a super-glutenous dough like this is to roll it a bit, then wait 30-60 seconds for the gluten to relax, then roll again. Yes, it makes the process take longer, but it’s less frustrating when the dough doesn’t constantly contract by as much as you’ve just rolled it out.

Roll, let it relax, roll some more, repeat until you get the size you want. I didn’t measure, but I’d say (from memory) that the finished thickness of the dough was between 1/3″ and 1/2″. Worry more about the length and width.

The cinnamonny goodness that gives the buns their name is really simple. 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar, lightly packed, and about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. That gets sprinkled over butter and then pushed into it a bit. There will be excess loose sugar though. I lost very little out the ends while rolling though.

Make sure your butter is VERY soft. Not melted, but very soft and spreadable, like a warm margarine. The dough is really tender, so if the butter is at all hard, it will be very difficult to spread.

I’ve always been a fan of the dental floss method of cutting cinnamon rolls, but in the current situation, we don’t have any. So, I had to carefully cut with a serrated bread knife.

If you’re unfamiliar with the floss method, you basically take several inches of floss, slide it under the roll, wrap it around, and pull it tight. It slices cleanly through, from the outside-in, all at once, so there’s no chance of the roll pulling apart or opening up. Floss is thin/strong/common enough to do the job well.

Like the butter to spread out, make sure your cream cheese and butter for the frosting is soft too. Makes it easy to beat together into a smooth, creamy spread.

And, as tough as it will be, give the freshly baked buns time to cool, so you don’t burn your fingers OR your mouth when you taste the first one.

I know. Waiting is hard. But it’s less painful.

Big Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Cinnamon. Butter. Dark brown sugar. Cream Cheese. YUM!!
Prep Time4 hrs
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time4 hrs 25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: buns, butter, cinnamon, cream cheese, dessert, frosting, roll, sugar, vanilla
Servings: 12 rolls
Author: Chris Pollard

Equipment

  • Everything listed in The Greatest Dinner Rolls Ever. No, Seriously recipe.
  • Rolling Pin
  • 9×13" baking pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Electric hand mixer

Ingredients

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • cup dark brown sugar (light brown works if you already have it)
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • cup butter VERY softened, but not melted

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese softened (½ package)
  • 3 tbsp butter softened
  • cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Make your rolls.

  • Follow all steps in my Greatest Dinner Rolls Ever recipe up to punching down the dough after first rise. (https://www.chriscooks.ca/2020/the-greatest-dinner-rolls-ever-no-seriously/) That's through step 7, and the punching part of step 8. Stop before dividing the dough.
  • Roll the newly deflated dough on a lightly floured surface until it's about 13 inches wide by 21 inches long. As you roll it out, you'll find it always wants to spring back. That's all the gluten doing what gluten does. So roll it out a bit, then let it sit for 30-60 seconds to relax – then start rolling again. You can also use your hands to stretch it a bit. This dough is very tender and very springy, so be careful not to rip it if using your hands to pull on it.
  • Once you've achieved your desired size, take your VERY softened butter and spread it evenly across the entire surface. Leave a quarter to a half inch on the side nearest you unbuttered. You'll want to try to seal up the end of the roll with it. Butter will prevent that.
  • Mix the cinnamon and dark brown sugar together in a bowl. As you do, you'll notice that the powdery nature of the cinnamon mixes with the stickiness of the brown sugar and you end up with something that looks like a very dark brown granulated sugar. This makes is GREAT for spreading.
  • Use a spoon, or your hands, to spread an even layer of the cinnamon sugar over the top of the buttered dough.
  • Once all the sugar is on, use your hands to press it into the butter as best you can. Don't worry if it seems like there's a lot of loose sugar on top – there IS! But as it bakes, it turns into magic.
  • Now the tricky(??) part. Start at the side furthest away from you. Carefully roll the dough towards you, paying attention to keeping it tight, and trying not to squish the cinnamon sugar out as you go. This is a really soft dough, so it can be hard to tell just how tight you're getting it. But just keep rolling.
  • Once it's all rolled up, do your best to seal the edge against the roll. I struggled with this part a bit, mostly because the dough is so tender, and I didn't want to rip it. It still came out just fine! The ends can get a bit wonky, but I just tried to press them as flat as I could with my hands.
  • Using either a serrated knife, or a length of dental floss (strong thread would work too), cut your big long roll into 12 equal pieces. Yes, being a complete nerd, I used a tape measure for this.
  • Now, exactly like with the dinner rolls, I give my baking pan a light spritz of cooking spray, then drop in a parchment paper liner. It just makes things SO much easier after baking. Nothing stuck to the pan.
  • Take your cinnamon rolls-in-training and carefully space them out in the baking pan.
  • Cover with a warm, damp towel in a warm place (I like to turn my oven on for about 1 minute, shut it off, and let the slight heat do it's thing.) to rise again for 1-2 hours. Check on them after an hour. You want them doubled in size and completely filling the pan. Mine were good in about 90 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and pop your rolls in for about 25 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to check on them about 3 minutes early. Better to check on them too soon, than too late.

Mix up the frosting.

  • While the rolls are baking, you have lots of time to mix up your frosting.
  • Add a half block of softened cream cheese (4oz if you're into measuring) and 3 tablespoons of softened butter to a small mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric hand mixer (although a stand mixer will work … it's just overkill), cream together the butter and cream cheese with the vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar and mix it in. Use low speed to start, otherwise you'll end up with powdered sugar everywhere. You're sweet enough. Keep it in the bowl.

Finishing touches

  • When the rolls are a light golden brown, pull them out of the oven. But keep your fingers off them! Obviously, they're very hot. Besides, you have FROSTING to do!
  • With a small spatula, or a butter knife, spread a thick, even layer of your freshly whipped frosting across the tops of every single nook and cranny of your cinnamon rolls. Edge to edge. Fill the gaps like you're spackling a hole in your drywall and you don't know the right way to do it. Just jam it in there like you mean it.
  • After you've finished licking out the frosting bowl, the rolls should be cool enough to carefully pull apart. You'll probably need that butter knife to get started. Be gentle. They're still hot, and very tender. Those delicate layers will tear easily.
  • Enjoy! If children are present, you may need to go feral and snap, "Back off, or I'll bite you!" All's fair in love and cinnamon rolls.

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