Cinnamon rolls have come to represent the ultimate Christmas morning breakfast. They're buttery, sweet, and indulgent with a powerful spiced aroma and sweet glaze on top—practically irresistible. But, the truth is that they're likely special-occasion food because cinnamon rolls aren't quick to make. The yeast dough requires two risings and there are multiple steps to the process. Still, with a little practice and a good recipe, making them is actually not difficult at all and it's a good project for the night before a holiday breakfast. Just bake them off the morning of and watch as the cinnamon smell brings everyone to the table. For all its elaborate festive appearance, making the actual wreath shape is the easiest part. Just twist your rolled dough into a circle and make slits 3/4 through. Everyone can just tear off a piece and enjoy!
- For the Dough
- 1 (2 1/4 teaspoons) packet active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk (warm)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- For the Filling
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- For the Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- Pinch of salt
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave to about 110 F.
Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and stir in the sugar.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to sit for about 10 minutes until it begins to foam. Note that if it does not, your yeast might not be alive and you will have to start again with fresh yeast.
Add in the egg, the 6 tablespoons of softened butter, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Don't worry if the butter still has some soft lumps.
On low speed, gradually add in the flour, a half cup at a time, until mixed in and you have a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook attachment and, on medium high speed, beat the dough for about 5 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and place in a warm spot to rise for an hour. It should double in size so let it rise longer if needed. Note that you can place the bowl inside the oven, turned off, if you need a warm spot.
Turn the dough out onto a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Lightly flour it and roll the dough out to approximately a 10x20-inch rectangle.
Spread the 8 tablespoons of softened butter onto the dough. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter.
Roll up the dough to a form a 20-inch log. Place a small, oven-proof ramekin in the center of the baking sheet and wrap the log around it.
Cut 12 even slices but only slice 3/4 of the way through so that the roll remains together in the center.
Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and place in a warm spot for an hour to rise for the second time.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the rolls are a light golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and salt until smooth and drizzle over the cinnamon roll wreath.