Around here, homemade cinnamon rolls are saved for special occasions. Holidays or the occasional birthday, if requested. I usually make them for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Brunch, sometimes for St. Patrick’s Day, but always, without exception, for Christmas morning and Easter morning.
You can, of course, make these a little less festive, if you would like. My plain best cinnamon roll ever recipe can be found here. This one is the same, with the addition of a little coloring and some sprinkles. Because nothing says Easter like red dye #40. Plus, festive cinnamon rolls always make my kids really happy.
These rolls are light and fluffy and filled with an incredibly caramely brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon filling- they taste exactly like a Cinnabon. The cream cheese frosting with the tiniest hints of vanilla and lemon is colored, drizzled, and then sprinkled over the top.
These rolls can be made the night before. Follow the directions up till after you are finished shaping the rolls, slicing them, and putting them in the pan. Then, cover tightly with plastic wrap. In the morning, Preheat your oven to 200° and then turn it off. Place the rolls inside for one hour to rise, and then bake.
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
one drop of red food coloring
one drop of yellow food coloring
Place flour, yeast, salt, and white sugar into your mixer or bowl. Mix together. Add milk, eggs, and butter to mixture and mix until combined. If you are using a kitchenaid mixer, you can knead the dough on the dough hook for 5 minutes. If you are using a regular bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes. Place dough under a large bowl and let it rise for about 20 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
While dough is rising, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
On a floured surface, roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and lemon extracts, and salt. Divide the frosting. Put a couple drops of red food coloring in one side to make pink. Spread frosting on warm rolls. Color the other half yellow, drizzle over the pink frosting, and then apply sprinkles. Enjoy!