Adapted from Tastes of Lizzy and Unicorn Foods
For the Dough:
1 cup warm milk (about 115 degrees F)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast (or one packet)
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter (Melted below 110 F or softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
For the Filling:
1/2 cup salted butter (almost melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy cream (for pouring over the risen rolls)
For the Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup salted butter (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pour the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop.
Add the eggs, butter and sugar. Mix until combined.
Add in salt and 4 cups (save the other 1/2 cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook.
To knead, beat the dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, adding in up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed to form a dough. The dough should be elastic and smooth. The dough should be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. That’s ok! Don’t be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 1/2 cups but start with 4 cups.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper. Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double. I like to turn on the oven to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the oven and place the dough to rise in there. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.
While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Divide dough into 6 balls Add a few drops of food coloring to each ball and knead until well incorporated. Roll each colorful dough ball into a snake and then press down and press together with each other to form a rainbow rectangle. Roll over with rolling pin to attach colors. Roll the dough to about a 24×15″ rectangle.
Use a rubber spatula to smooth the cinnamon filling over the whole dough rectangle.
Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style. (Refrigerate for 15 minutes at this point for cleaner cuts.) Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased or buttered 9×13 baking pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20-30 minutes or until nearly double. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Warm the heavy cream until the chill is off. Don’t make it hot…you just don’t want it cold. It should be warm to the touch. Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. Note…the time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. They could take up to 25-27 minutes. Check the rolls at 20 minutes. If they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer. Blend well. Add in your favorite extract and the powdered sugar. Beat until combined. Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container.
We often make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.
The morning you want to bake them, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake. If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise at room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.