Also, I LOOOOOVE that I can make these ahead of time, stick them in the freezer, and have them defrosting/rising all night long so we can have hot, fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast (with almost no effort!!).
There's an orange roll variation too! Use the same exact dough, but just swap out the filling and the frosting. See below.
Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
-Adapted from America's Test Kitchen-
*Make-Ahead: to make these rolls ahead of time, once the rolls are formed and placed on the baking sheet, immediately cover them with lightly greased plastic wrap and refrigerate them; do not let them rise. Refrigerate overnight, up to 16 hours. Let the rolls sit at room temperature, covered, until they have doubled in size about 3-4 hours and then uncover and bake as directed. The rolls can also be frozen at the same point as mentioned above (cover with a layer of greased plastic wrap and a top layer of tin foil). They will need to sit at room temperature for 9-11 hours to defrost and rise before baking.
Makes 12 rolls (but I usually double the recipe).
¾ c. buttermilk, warmed (I pour the buttermilk in a glass liquid measuring cup and microwave for 1-2 minutes on 50% power)
6 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 ¼ c. flour
¼ c. sugar
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened to room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons milk
For the dough, whisk the warmed buttermilk and melted butter together in a large liquid measuring cup.
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (or knead for 15-18 minutes by hand). If after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but has a slight tacky feel when pressed between your fingertips.
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 to 2 ½ hours (Alternatively, you can preheat your oven to 170 degrees, and then turn it off and place your covered bowl inside for faster rising.)
Meanwhile, lightly grease an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet (or use a non-stick mat like a silpat). In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter (or roul’pat) and press/roll it into a 18x14 inch rectangle (if you have doubled the recipe, split the dough in half and roll out one half at a time). Gently spread the softened butter over the rectangle using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle on the brown sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top and bottom edges. Lightly use the palms of your hands to press the brown sugar mixture into the butter, adhering it to the dough.
Lift the long edge closest to you and begin rolling the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log so it is seam side down. Gently stretch or compress the log until it is to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter all the way throughout. Pat the ends to even them up.
Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 12 evenly sized rolls (or cut into 8 slices for amazingly thick rolls...just bake them for a few extra minutes), starting in the center. Arrange the rolls on the prepared baking pan and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and a light dish cloth. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours (or a slightly warm oven for 20-25 minutes).
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden on top and cooked through but not overly browned. In my oven it only takes about 11-12 minutes for soft, gooey rolls. Otherwise they will dry out.
While the rolls are baking, make the frosting. Combine butter and cream cheese and mix till fluffy and light. Combine milk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup. Alternately, add powdered sugar and wet ingredients to cream cheese mixture, beating until desired consistency. Add more milk (1 teaspoon at a time) to thin if needed.
Spread frosting on warm rolls and serve.
**ORANGE ROLL VARIATION**
Use buttermilk dough, but swap out the butter/cinnamon mixture and cream cheese glaze for the following.
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated orange rind/zest from two large oranges (reserving 1/2 teaspoon grated rind for the glaze below)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice from about 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind/zest reserved from the filling above