Soft, Fluffy, Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Some say that nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread coming out of the oven, that warm cosy scent that for some reason speaks to an innate part of us making us feel like everything will be okay. Even I am guilty of having that sentiment.

But I take that back.

What it should be is that nothing beats the smell of warm and toasty sweet cinnamon goo mixed with fresh bread.

You know what I mean.

However, even then it does thread a fine line.

Too much sugar and you do enter the territory of sickly sweet, too little and it’s just colouring rather than flavour.

But I am hoping that this recipe does that fine balance justices and awards you with a bun that is both fluffy and soft bread yet sweet just like a dessert-y treat.

The 2 Categories

I tend to find that many cinnamon buns fall into 2 main categories – Too “bready” or too decadent.

In the too “bready” category we have buns that are more akin to a lightly sweetened bread. More focused on the bread itself with minimal swirls of cinnamon sugar through it.

In the too decadent category, they tend to be drenched in cinnamon sugar “goo” and drowned in cream cheese frosting making it too sweet and rich.

Naturally there is also the bucket for the balanced category where perhaps many of the family and homemade recipes fall into. Recipes which are skewed to neither side but rather a mix of both. Moments of soft bready goodness in each bite balanced with cinnamon goo.

I am not cinnamon roll expert, that’s the first thing that I would like to point out.

However, I can only try to create a version that I like with the assistance of your preferences based off the Instagram story polls that I did when I was working on this recipe.

Cream Cheese

Soooo… you may have noticed that the recipe uses cream cheese beyond just being in the frosting and there is a reason for that. A few actually.

With the dough, the cream cheese provides richness and a slight savory flavour to the bun whilst also making it soft. It enriches the dough in a slightly different manner from how butter usually would.

As for the filling itself, adding cream cheese to the filling helps with adding some acidity and once again, a savoury note to contrast and balance the sweetness of the molass-ey sugar cinnamon mix.

Note: Do not try to replace the butter in the spread with pure cream cheese, it doesn’t work in the same way.

When baked, the butter/cream cheese mix will melt into the dough and once again flavour the dough.

Given that not everyone loves their cinnamon buns with frosting, there is no reason why they cannot enjoy the flavour of the cream cheese subtly in the buns themselves. (And if you are worried, they are not cheesy buns. :))

But if you reeeeally do enjoy cream cheese, there is also cream cheese frosting available for you to slather it on 😉

The Rolls

I like my layers in my cinnamon rolls to be on the thinner side as it gives me a nice bread to filling ratio in every bite.

As such, I use the technique of stretching/tugging on the dough whilst rolling it.

What I do is that when we are rolling the dough up into a log, I would lift up the log and pull it away from me thus stretching that layer thinner before rolling it up. I then use my thumbs to press the log into place by pushing against it. (Please refer to the video for visuals on the technique)

Now, there is a down side to this, the log does end up rather tight and when you bake the cinnamon rolls they may end up forming a “mountain” shape.

To avoid that, you could roll it looser towards the start before tightening it towards the end, otherwise, simply roll the whole log as per normal without any stretching/tugging motion.

As to the reason behind why I do not simply roll the dough thin at the beginning, this is because the dough is quite soft and I want to avoid any chance of tearing the dough or having it stick to the surface too much and thus needing an excess amount of flour.

Different Thickness

For fluffier rolls, you can reduce the original size of the rectangle making it shorter. Do not change the width, just make the length shorter.

This will mean lesser coils and thicker bread layers.

But if you want ultra thin rolls, what you could do is the “quick lamination” method as per my Garlic Milk Buns recipe where you roll it out, spread some butter/cinnamon mixture, fold it and roll it out again before spreading more butter/cinnamon mixutre and rolling it into a log.

I personally find those layers to be too thin for my liking in this instance when it comes to cinnamon rolls but we all have our own preferences 🙂

The Frosting

This really isn’t too special. We are sticking with the usual cream cheese as a base for this frosting.

When it comes to applying the frosting onto the bun, you can do so whilst it is still warm so it melts nicely into the buns and cover them like a soft gooey blanket. (Cinnamon rolls are best consumed warmed if you asked me :P) This also allows the frosting to get in between the layers and to really get to know the bun, if you know what I mean. 😉

Or you can do it whilst it is at room temp to allow for a thicker firmer frosting that won’t melt into the buns until heated.

The main thing about the frosting is taste.

You do not want an overly sugary frosting, after all there is enough sugar in the buns to keep you rather happy.

What you want is something that will provide a creamy, slightly tangy flavour that is rich and will brighten up the “warmer” flavours within the bun.

As such, the addition of things like lemon zest and lemon juice helps with giving it that “pop” of brightness and additional acidity.

As for the milk, some people love to keep their buns bare and instead dunk their buns in frosting like a sauce. Or perhaps rather than spreading it on the way I do, they prefer a thinner pour-able frosting. Either way, the milk is honestly just to thin the mixture out.

If you are after a less sweet frosting, I advise cutting the icing sugar to 60g instead of the 80g in the recipe.

Colour – Texture – Bake

And onto the final but most important bit of the actual bread itself.

For those who love a soft fluffy roll that’s lighter on the colour:

  • I recommend rolling the dough as per normal for a thicker bread layer
  • To achieve a softer paler outcome, I suggest baking it at 150C instead of the recommended 170C for 25-30 mins. This slows down the formation of the crust.

For those who love a thin crisp bread that’s darker in colour:

  • I recommend rolling it as per my suggestion otherwise for an extra layered roll you can do the “quick laminate” as per suggested above.
  • For a bake similar in colour to mine, you can bake it for 30 mins at 170C but if you like it darker you can bake it for 35 mins.

Medium rare?

Yes, there is such a thing.

Some people love the “medium rare” core in their buns that is just baked and really soft and moist. Not raw dough, but just baked dough. To achieve that, you can bake it for a shorter time, around 25 mins will be good, but it comes down to each individual oven.

Remember, you can always under bake your bread and still place it back into the oven to continue baking. But there is no turning back time once it has over baked 😉

As always, here are some things to note:

  • When working with any dough, always try to use the minimal amount of flour needed when dusting your dough. This will prevent you from adding additional flour that was never part of the recipe as it will affect the final result. I like just using a very thin amount, just enough to ensure that it doesn’t stick.
  • The thinness and thickness of the dough is up to you to customize. I have provided all the information and I feel that it should be enough to help you customise your buns to your liking.
  • Want more cinnamon sugar goo? Simply make more and add more. But don’t forget to increase the amount of butter/cream cheese mix as well. There is a point of “too much” so I suggest trying the recipe as is first.
  • Want more flavour complexity in your cinnamon goo without as much sweetness, you can replace half the light brown sugar with dark brown sugar. Or for a heavy molasses vibe, you can go fully into the all dark brown sugar field.
  • You will notice I start the buns the night before and bake them the next morning. This is because I like waking up to fresh cinnamon buns without having to put in the effort. But you could very easily make them in the same day. Should you buns not rise overnight in the fridge, simply let it proof whilst you are preheating your oven until it doubles in size.
  • The frosting quantities provided gives you enough to cover all 12 buns, but it won’t be a super generous coverage. You can increase it by 50% to doubling it even if you really love your frosting.
  • For a more savoury frosting, add more salt, add some lemon for brightness and reduce the sugar.
  • To change the fluidity of the frosting, you can use milk to make it more fluid.
  • Please do not use low fat milk, this is not a diet snack, so you may as well go all out for the full cream version of the milk.
  • We brush on milk when the buns are fresh out of the oven to reintroduce moisture back into the buns. Do this whilst the buns are still fresh out of the oven and hot. You should hear a sizzle when you first start brushing the buns with the milk as the milk drips down the sides and hits the hot surface of the baking pan. Having it how will allow the buns to absorb the milk and turn any excess into steam due to the heat without making your buns “soggy”. Please do not skip this step and please do not add more as you will hit a threshold of too much liquid.
  • Lastly, these are best enjoyed warm in all its soft fluffy cinnamon goodness. You can either pop it back into the oven to heat up (in all it’s frosted glory or without frosting, the choice is yours), or simply warm it up in the microwave. I would suggest doing it for 10 seconds and seeing if it is warm enough before microwaving it in 7-10 seconds blasts until its warmed up to your liking. If microwaving it, be sure to consume it quickly, most microwave goods never taste quite the same once cooled, especially bread 😉

Soft, Fluffy, Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

What you’ll need

The Bread

  • 390g bread Flour (12% protein)
  • 70g granulated sugar
  • 90g cream cheese, softened
  • 5g salt
  • 7g (2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 140g full cream milk, luke warm (approx 34C)
  • 2 large eggs, room temp (104g approx)

The Filling – Butter Spread

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 40g cream cheese softened

The Filling – Cinnamon Sugar

  • 200g light brown sugar (replace with half dark brown for a less sweet and slightly more complex flavour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp good quality ground cinnamon (10g)

To Finish

  • 60g full cream milk

The Frosting

  • 110g cream cheese, soften
  • 30g unsalted butter, soften
  • 80g icing sugar (reduce to 60g for a less sweet version)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/16tsp salt
  • 1/2-1tsp lemon juice + zest (option, see notes above)
  • 1-2 tsp milk (optional, see notes above)

Making it!

The night before

Add all of the ingredients minus the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Mix on low adding the eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Increase speed to medium and mix for 14-15 mins until soft and elastic. The dough will be sticky at this point but that is fine. The key is to ensure that it passes the window plane stage. When testing the dough for the window plane stage, gently tug to stretch. If you are too rough with the dough, it naturally will tear and you may think that it isn’t ready.

Remove from the bowl and shape into a ball.

Place back into the bowl and cover. Let proof until doubled, this should take 45mins – 1hr depending on your room temperature.

In the meantime, make the filling.

In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth and the consistency of mayonnaise. If your mixture is too cold/firm and isn’t soft and spreadable, I suggest warming it up slightly. You can heat it in 5 seconds blasts in the microwave or over a bowl of warm water to gently heat it up. A firm mixture runs the risk of you accidentally tearing the dough when spreading it out.

In a separate bowl mix all of the ingredients from the cinnamon sugar mixture together until well combined and there are no clumps left. Brown sugar tends to clump up, you can either sift the mixture or simply use your fingers to break any clumps up the way I do.

Once your dough has proofed until doubled in size, knock back the air and remove from the bowl.

Lightly dust your dough (never use excess amounts of flour, refer to note above), roll to a 33cm by 47cm-50cm rectangle with the width facing you.

Spread the butter mixture evenly on the dough, don’t forget to spread it to the edges.

Add all of the cinnamon sugar on top of the butter mixture and spread it out to ensure it forms a even layer all the way to the edges.

I like taking my rolling pin and rolling it over the sugar (without applying pressure, just using it’s natural weight) to help spread the sugar out evenly onto the dough.

To form a log, starting from the top, roll the dough downwards towards you.

Use the tug/pull motion and roll the dough (refer to video for rolling motion). You want to pull the dough slightly as you roll it to stretch it as it allows you to create tight and thinner layers resulting in a roll with more coils.

Once rolled, slice your log into 12 even pieces.

Place into the baking tray with the cut surface facing up. For the edge pieces that are uneven, I would suggest having the edge face down to allow for the “prettier” side to face up and be exposed.

Cover and let proof overnight in the fridge until doubled or proof at room temp for 45mins-1hr until doubled. (Do not fret if you see liquid at the base of your pan after the overnight proof)

The next day, once proofed bake at 170C for 25-30 mins. (Please see notes above for more details.) If your dough hasn’t doubled whilst in the fridge overnight, simply let it proof whilst you preheat your oven.

When ready and out on the oven, immediately brush on all of the milk evenly across the surface of all of the rolls.

Whilst the buns are cooling, you can make the frosting. Simply mix all the frosting ingredients together until smooth adding milk to thin the frosting out to the consistency of your liking. (I don’t add any to my frosting as I prefer it thicker)

Whilst the buns are still slightly warm, spread on the cream cheese frosting.

Enjoy buns whilst warm for the best experience 🙂


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Penguin says:

    Bless. You.
    This. Was. A. God. Send.
    Let me tell you, I have tried SO many cinnamon bun recipes. Ive tried from a-z, even dipping into sourdough recipes in hopes of a soft and fluffy “medium rare” bread. Nada.

    I saw the lonnnggg description for this recipe and was like hmn. She is onto something.

    I made it. Bread kneaded 15min on the dot, baked 25min on the dot. And I get the perfect Cinamon bun. No fussing around of “did I knees enough”, “did the buns cook enough”; Didn’t need to put it back in the oven Bc the middle bun was undercooked. Nothing like that.
    Recipe halves beautifully so you can make a half batch of 6 which I love.
    My absolute go to now and I am so grateful to have come across this recipe.
    Looking to try your chocolate babka next!

    Stay safe and healthy always

    Thank you for all your hard work and sharing this beautiful recipe.


  2. Shikha says:

    Can we substitute egg in this recipe and make it eggfree?


  3. Jen says:

    This cinnamon roll is delicious & I have made it twice. However, both times the rolls unravel upwards when baking. What is the cause?


  4. Jen says:

    I love this recipe & have made it twice. The rolls proof beautifully. However, both times, the rolls unravel up & out when baking. What is the cause for this?


  5. Jennifer says:

    I love this recipe & have made it twice. The rolls proof beautifully. However, both times, the rolls unravel up & out when baking. What is the cause for this?


  6. Renata Heimpel says:

    Is it possible to change the dry yeast for sourdough? Thank you in advance!


  7. Geri Lawhon says:

    They look so gooey and delicious. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Issa says:

    Made this recipe yesterday but I added raisins and pecans to have some textures. I was fully blown away by its fluffiness. It stayed soft until the next day and after being reheated, almost as fresh. Might try with different fillings next time. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  9. a says:

    hi, is the 170C temp for a convection oven (with fan) or one without fan?


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