How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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The Best Part of Your Weekend Brunch

Your kids know the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls; don't we all? It calls to us like the Pied Piper any time we wander through the nearest mall. Although it's hard to turn down a cinnamon roll the size of your head, baking your own at home is a great alternative when you want to know exactly what you're eating and make the treats just a little bit healthier. If you're an early riser, you can start these rolls on a weekend morning before the kids get up. Otherwise, make the dough in the evening, and give it a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Total Time: 3 hours | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk with the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar, 3 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the egg.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, the remaining sugar and the salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook in an electric mixer for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth, soft and elastic. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Coat the dough and the inside of the bowl with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. After the dough has risen, distribute up to 1/4 cup flour on a flat, smooth surface, such as a cutting board or kitchen counter. Roll out the dough on the floured surface into a rectangle of about 12 inches by 15 inches, with the longer side facing you.
  5. Using a butter knife, spatula or kitchen brush, spread 1/4 cup of the softened butter in a thin layer across the rectangle. On the long side farthest away from you, leave an unbuttered border of about 1/2 inch.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle it over the dough rectangle everywhere except at the 1/2-inch border. Using your finger or a kitchen brush, spread a thin layer of water over the border.
  7. Starting on the long side closest to you, roll up the dough tightly, ending at the border. Press on the long, bordered edge to seal the roll closed.
  8. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 8 to 10 cylinders a little more than 1 inch wide.
  9. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by greasing it with the remaining butter from the filling. Lay the rolls in the pan, leaving some space between them. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and let the rolls rise for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
  10. While the rolls are rising, heat the oven to 325F.
  11. Bake the rolls at 325F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden brown. 
  12. In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar with the half-and-half and vanilla. Pour the glaze over the cinnamon rolls while they are still warm. Let rolls cool for at least 10 minutes, then pull them apart to serve.