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Cream cheese cinnamon rolls

September 21, 2009

Making cinnamon rolls is a lengthy process, but these are “quite nice” (all-purpose Australian-Singlish adjective for all things good). I love eating cinnamon rolls bit by bit by unraveling them.

If you want to eat the cinnamon rolls the same day you make them, you will need at least 5-6 hours (2 hours of active time and 4 hours of waiting time). I like to make the rolls at night, then bake them in small batches throughout the next day, so whoever I am serving can eat them hot out of the oven. You can eat them hot out of the oven, too! You can click “read more” below to see the instructions and almost step-by-step photos.

This is my friend ad model, S. She helped me make the rolls, which means I don’t need to wash my hands after every step to take a picture and wash my hands again before I start working with the dough again. She and I have a mutual friend at Cal. She is the reason why I got a cheap place to live close to uni.

These rolls use cream cheese IN the dough, leading to a soft and fluffy inside. Delicious. Also, using dental floss to cut the rolls give you a clean cut, minimizing roll squish-age and filling runaways.

I made half of these rolls using a sweet potato filling, but they didn’t turn out as well as the regular cinnamon filling. I microwaved 1 1/2 large sweet potatoes until done (about 10 minutes, flipping once in the middle), scooped the soft parts out and mashed it with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup.  The filling in the finished roll didn’t taste like sweet potato, it just tasted like…slightly fragrant and sweet mush. (Although you could argue sweet potatoes ARE exactly fragrant and sweet mush.) Also, the sweet potato filling was so moist it made the entire roll slightly mushy. I may try again in the future, because I love sweet potatoes.

These instructions are for mixing by hand, using a wooden spatula. One day I will have my own stand mixer, and it will be awesome. Before that day, though, by hand works well enough. I’m not sure if a regular hand-held electric mixer would work for this recipe because the dough gets rather thick.


Cream cheese cinnamon rolls

Adapted from Joy the Baker

makes a 9″ x 13″ pan of 12 cinnamon rolls

For the Dough:
1/4 cup warm water (you want it to be LUKEWARM, not too hot)
1 1/4 oz (7 gram) package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup more for kneading
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour (original uses 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour instead of both all-purpose and whole-wheat)
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (120 gram) butter, at room temperature and chopped into small pieces

For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar (original uses 1/2 cup sugar)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but you could try pecans, almonds? hazelnuts?)
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (original calls for ground cloves instead)
1/16 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature, stirred with a knife to make it spreadable

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

making the dough and filling
1. Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, and1/2 teaspoon sugar. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes; mixture should be foamy.
2. Add in to the yeast mixture 1/4 cup sugar, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, egg, and egg yolk. Whisk well.
3. Add in 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, and salt. After the dry ingredients are mixed in, work the dough for a few more minutes using a spatula to attempt replicating the “knead” function in a stand mixer. You could potentially instead knead the dough in the bowl with well-floured hands, but I haven’t tried it.
4. Add in the butter. I do this by taking my wooden spatula and smushing the butter against the side of the bowl. It will take a while for the butter to be completely incorporated.
5. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead in about 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour.
6. Place in a greased bowl, turn and flip the dough ball to lightly grease it, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
7. Make the filling: Combine all ingredients, stirring in the maple syrup last.
creating the roll
8. After the dough has risen, turn out onto a well-floured work surface and knead in about 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour.
9. Cover loosely with plastic rise and let rise for 5 minutes.
10. Roll the dough into a 10″ x 10″ square. Spread the cream cheese into a thin layer over the dough.
11. Fold the dough into thirds, as though you were folding a letter. You should then have about a 10″ x 3.33″ rectangle.
12. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, into a (theoretically) 3.33″ x 3.33″ square.
12. Flip the dough square so the seam faces downward and roll into a 10″ by 20″ rectangle.
13. Brush the dough 1 – 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1″ border.
14. Roll! Beginning with the short end of the rectangle, roll the dough as tightly as possible. Gently pinch the seam to seal. Gently pinch the open ends of the roll to seal. Smooth down any ungainly bumps gained from the pinching.
15. We’ll now divide this long roll into 12 individual rolls. Get a piece of dental floss, about 18″ long, and slide it under the roll where you would like to make your first “cut.” There should be about 6″ of floss on either side of the roll, perpendicular to the roll. Pull both strands of floss up so that both strands are vertical, then pull strands in opposite directions so they crisscross. Keep pulling the strands of floss, and the bottom of the floss will travel through the roll to give you a clean cut.
15. Set your 12 cut rolls evenly on a buttered 9″x13″ pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in room temperature or place in refrigerator overnight.
16. If refrigerated, let rolls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

These are good enough to eat unglazed, but do feel free:

Glaze, adapted from Joy the Baker
2 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1. Whisk sugar and buttermilk until smooth. Let cinnamon rolls cool for 5 minutes and drizzle glaze.

Do you guys like captions before or after photos? We’ll try after the photos first.

We’ve mixed the yeast mixture, the wet ingredients, and the flour and salt together. Next, we’ll add the butter.

Smush and smear the butter against the side of the bowl to help break up the butter and to incorporate it into the dough. If this dough looks extremely buttery, that’s because it is. Later I’ll figure out that I over-estimated how much 120 grams of butter were.

After we add the butter, the dough will be smoother, but extremeley sticky. Turn onto very well-floured surface and knead in about 1/3 cup more of all-purpose flour.

Smooth, supple, happy dough, ready for the first rise. My “work surface” is a piece of cling wrapped taped to the counter with non-food-standard tape.

After the dough has doubled, you have gently kneaded in about 3 more tablespoons of all-purpose flour, AND you have let the dough rise for about 5 more minutes, you may roll the dough out into a 10″ x 10″ square. If this doesn’t look a 10″ x 10″ square, that’s probably because it’s not quite those dimensions. Spread cream cheese over the dough. Yours will most likely look prettier than mine.

We’ll now start folding!

Almost there!

Nice! Now flip it so that the seam faces down and roll it out into a 10″ x 20″ rectangle.

You can see the cream cheese showing through. Anticipate the deliciousness that is cream cheese layered in dough.

Next, spread your 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter and spread your fillings! Remember, I am doing half cinnamon filling and half sweet potato filling.

Roll starting from the short side.

(At this point, I had forgotten that I planned to sprinkle chopped walnuts over the sweet potato filling before rolling. I ended up stuffing them into the fillings after we cut the rolls.)

After we pinch the seams and the ends closed, we’ll take out our dental floss. Place it underneath the roll so that the floss is perpendicular to the roll.

Pull both sides of the floss up on either side of the roll and pull in opposite directions so the floss strands crisscross.

Keep pulling the strands, and the bottom of the floss will travel through the roll. THIS PICTURE IS MISLEADING. It looks like S is slicing the rolls by dragging the floss through from ABOVE the rolls, as though it was a knife, but that’s not what she is really doing.

Take your nicely cut rolls and plop them in a buttered pan. Admire your handiwork.

You can see the swirls of cream cheese in the rolls.

Now, cover loosely in plastic rise and let rise. You can either choose to do so at room temperature for 2 hour or in the fridge overnight.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. sylvia permalink
    September 22, 2009 05:54

    rawr it looks so good. i “might” make them for the social.

  2. sylvia permalink
    September 22, 2009 05:57

    also, i liked how you switched comments before and after the pictures. it was more helpful to read the instructions before the picture, then the comments afterwards.

  3. September 27, 2009 17:03

    The cream cheese should be all smooshy and the wrapper will roll up nicely. Hand Crafts

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