Cinnamon rolls are very dear to my heart. They are my children’s absolute favorite thing I bake, and the stuff that brings the fondest of memories to my oldest two (now adult) children. I used to make them every Sunday morning before Church because I could prep them Saturday night after dinner, and bake them while everyone gets dressed in the morning. My husband knows to set the dough pans out on the counter to rise when he gets up, and to wake me when the oven is preheated! I love how perfectly orchestrated our Sunday mornings are when we start with handmade overnight cinnamon rolls.
A few tips before I share the complete cinnamon roll recipe:
Don’t try to rush this recipe with rapid rise yeast. I have tried it a few times and it doesn’t produce the light and fluffy cinnamon rolls we love.
If you or a loved one has a dairy allergy, feel free to substitute water for the milk, and butter flavored vegetable shortening for the butter in your dough. I recommend skipping the cream cheese frosting altogether and trying a caramel or honey based glaze for the top instead.
Messy rolling won’t kill this recipe. Don’t feel like if your dough doesn’t roll up perfectly like the photo above you’re lost. You’re not. Just get it in the pan and let them rise. It will be okay, promise. I have rolled these up at 2 am with one eye open and they still tasted delicious the next morning. You got this mommy!
Does round pans make a difference?
Yes! Just look at that coveted center piece! Isn’t it calling your name right now? — Yum!
I have tried to double my batch and use rectangle cake pans for gatherings. It works, but it isn’t the same. The baking time is longer and the cinnamon rolls on the outside edges get a little more brown than I prefer. Stick with the round cake pans, even if you are baking enough to share.
Mommy’s Playbook Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
(This recipe uses a stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments)
- 1 Cup Milk
- 2 Packets Active Dry Yeast
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Butter
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Cups Wheat Flour (or All Purpose Flour)
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup applesauce (or butter)
- 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
- 3 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1/4 cup Butter
- 1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/4 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1-2 cups Powdered Sugar
Warm milk in a small bowl. Dissolve granulated sugar and yeast into the milk and allow yeast to activate for five minutes. Yeast should be foamy, if not, you may need to start over.
While yeast is activating. Cream butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs with your mixer using the paddle attachment. Slowly add 2 cups of wheat flour (or All Purpose if you are omitting the wheat flour in this recipe). Mix just until combined.
Switch to your dough hook attachment. Pour in the milk, sugar, and yeast mixture all at once. Turn your mixer on slowly (may need to imitate a “pulse” method until the liquid begins to mix in). Add remaining 2 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead dough until the flour is fully incorporated. (Dough may NOT separate from the bowl so don’t wait for that to happen.)
Lightly coat a large bowl with oil or non-stick spray. Pour dough into bowl (a rubber spatula is a great help here.) Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
For filling: Mix Brown Sugar and Cinnamon together, set aside.
Once dough has risen, pour dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle with more flour and flour your rolling pin. Roll dough thinly into a large rectangle. (Tip: Shape the dough into a bread loaf before starting to roll.)
Pour applesauce onto your rectangle. Spread with a spoon (or your hands) to the edges. Top with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
From the long side, roll your dough. Try to keep it tight so you don’t lose your filling when you transfer it to your baking pan(s).
Starting at the middle, cut dough log into 1 inch thick rolls. I use a dough scraper and then readjust the roll into a circle, but if you have floss that works great too.
Lightly grease two round pans. I use two rimmed pie dishes. Divide your rolls in half, place half in each dish. They don’t need to touch because they will rise to meet each other during the next rise.
STOP! Are you making these overnight? If so, cover your cinnamon rolls with plastic wrap and place them into the fridge! (read the overnight instructions at the bottom of the page). If you can’t wait until morning, cover with plastic wrap and allow cinnamon rolls to rise in a warm location for 30-45 minutes.
Let’s Bake!! Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes. To check to see if they are done, press the center roll gently. If baking is complete, it will bounce right back, if it sinks, bake for another 5 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, prepare your cream cheese frosting. Add softened cream cheese, butter, and pure vanilla extract to your mixing bowl (or food processor). Mix until smooth. Add powdered sugar. Continue to mix until smooth. Set aside until the cinnamon rolls are removed from the oven.
Top rolls with frosting. Serve warm.
Overnight Instructions! Your rolls should rise in the fridge overnight so all you need to do is toss them into the oven in the morning. However, if they don’t, fill a rectangle pan with water and set it on the bottom rack of your oven. Place rolls on the rack above the pan. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and proceed with the baking directions above.