How to Make Sweet Roll Dough & Cinnamon Rolls
Yeasted bread can be intimidating for even the most competent chef, and yet it’s also one of the more satisfying projects. If busting out dinner in 15 minutes flat on a weeknight makes you feel like a domestic rock star (as it should!), pulling a pan of golden cinnamon rolls out of the oven mid-morning and seeing how it delights your family and friends will give you a deep, homey sense of accomplishment.
And we’re here to tell you — and show you, in our nifty how-to — that yeasted bread, in particular this sweet roll dough, is easy to make. The only real danger is that once you’ve mastered it, you won’t want to stop making it. It’s a very pleasing project: The tangy smell of the yeast. The buttery ball of dough, springy and elastic under your hand. The wonderful aroma and fleeting sweetness of all the things you’ll bake with it, from cinnamon rolls to tender dinner rolls.
Our tip: If you’re making the cinnamon rolls, it doesn’t have to be a long-winded, wee-hours-of-the-morning project. You can make the dough the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. It may need a longer second rise, say 45 minutes rather than 30.
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surfaces
1 pkg instant yeast
2 ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 ½ cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg.
- In a small pan, combine the milk and butter, and warm them over medium-low heat, so that the butter melts and the mixture reaches 120º.
- Add the milk mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer and turn the mixer on low, combining the ingredients.
- Slowly add the remaining flour to the stand mixer, until the dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and tacky, not sticky.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a large, lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
- If you’re making a filled roll with the dough, now is a good time to prepare the fillings.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down. You can now use the dough to make dinner rolls, slider buns, or the cinnamon rolls in the recipe below.
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Sweet roll dough (above)
½ cup heavy cream
- Prepare your sweet roll dough, using the instructions above.
- Preheat the oven to 350º, and lightly butter a baking dish measuring 9 x 13 inches.
- In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring about 9 x 15 inches.
- Spread the softened butter on the dough, and then sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
- Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 1-inch rolls using a sharp, well-buttered knife.
- Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking dish, spiral side up. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. They’re ready when you can leave an indent in the dough with your finger.
- While the rolls are rising, warm the heavy cream in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Remove the cover, pour the cream over the rolls, and bake them for about 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
- While cinnamon rolls bake, make the cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
- Frost the rolls while they are warm — and eat them immediately.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients and mix until fluffy.