These cinnamon rolls start with a bread recipe that has been in my family for generations and it never fails. Add lots of butter, cinnamon, and sugar for the filling. A buttery cream cheese icing melts into the crevices. Top them with cherry and apple pie filling.
Prep Time:45 minutes (not including rise time)
Cook Time:25-30 minutes
Total Time:3 hours and 30 minutes
Yield:18 Large Cinnamon Rolls 1x
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening, heaping
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 cups boiling water
2 packages Rapid Rise Yeast
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 cup warm Water
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
Approximately 8 cups Flour, more for kneading
2 sticks Butter + 2 tablespoons for rising dough
1 cup Sugar
2–3 tablespoons Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick of softened Butter
1 – 8 oz Cream Cheese
1 – 32 oz pkg Powdered Sugar
4–6 tablespoons Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Kosher Salt
Cherry and/or Apple Pie Filling, optional
For Bread Dough
In a large bowl, combine sugar, shortening, salt and boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 cup warm water (110-115°F). Stir until dissolved. Set in a warm place (a microwave works great) for at least 10 minutes until the yeast has risen and the foam is doubled in size.
Add the beaten eggs and yeast mixture into the melted shortening mixture. Make sure the shortening mixture has cooled to room temperature. If it is too hot it can kill the yeast.
Stir in 5 cups of flour. Continue to add the remaining flour one cup at a time. At this point, I use my hands to fully combine the ingredients. The texture of the dough should be somewhat sticky but firm enough to work with.
Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Continue adding flour to the surface as necessary when the dough becomes sticky again. You can tell by the feel of the dough when it is ready – it will start to feel dense and firm but not dry.
Butter a large mixing bowl along with the ball of dough using the 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm area. A microwave works great or on top of a warm stove. Let rise for 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and on a floured surface roll out the dough to a rectangle of 24×12 inches.
Spread the 3 sticks of softened butter onto the dough. Generously sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon.
Roll from the 24-inch side and finish with the seam down. I gently squeeze back and forth across the dough in order the get consistent thickness.
Slice the dough with a serrated knife in 2-inch sections (I like my cinnamon rolls thick). Makes 12 large cinnamon rolls. If you want to have more, cut the sections into 1 or 1 1/2 inches.
Place 6 rolls each on two generously buttered 9×13-inch cake pans. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm area. Let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake the cinnamon rolls until golden brown, for approximately 25-30 minutes depending on their thickness. While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting.
Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven. Let sit for 10 minutes. While they are still warm, ice with the cream cheese icing. Make a little well in the top of the icing and add your favorite pie filling.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream together with a hand mixer the butter and cream cheese.
Add 1/2 the powder sugar and continue mixing until combined. Add the remaining powder sugar, 1-2 tablespoons of milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Continue beating and adding extra milk to the desired consistency. Beat until light and fluffy. This makes more than enough frosting for this batch of cinnamon rolls. You can freeze whatever icing is left over.
Starting at the widest side (24-inch side) of the dough, tug the lip up over the cinnamon and sugar, then begin rolling, moving from left to right and tightening the log as you go. Finish with the seam side down. Gently squeeze back and forth across the dough in order to get a consistent thickness.
With a serrated knife, slice the dough with a back and forth sawing motion. Wipe the knife with a moistened towel after each slice.
A Make-Ahead Option: Cover the pan of cinnamon rolls that have not risen yet with plastic wrap and set in the fridge overnight. The next morning, pull them out and let them rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Test their doneness by using a fork and pull up at the center of one cinnamon roll to see if they are still doughy or not. If so, put them back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
Let the baked cinnamon rolls sit for about 10 minutes before you ice them. You want them to still be warm though so some of the icing can seep down into the crevices.
To change things up a bit from a basic cinnamon roll, I make a well in the icing and add a dollop of pie filling to the top of each cinnamon roll.