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Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe #2 from our Mother's Day brunch buffet is cinnamon rolls. I've blogged about them before, but decided to use a different recipe this time. My other recipe is meant for large-volume baking, and I didn't want to take the time to scale it down. The other recipe is meant to be completed in one day. I wanted to prep my cinnamon rolls the night before and bake them in the morning. 

Enter Alton Brown and his Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. I had seen his rolls mentioned many times when users posted in search of tried-and-true recipes. They were very easy to make. Alton's recipe uses instant yeast as opposed to dry active yeast, which means no fussing around with "blooming" the yeast in warm water and wondering if it's too warm. The yeast mixes right in with the flour and the salt. The mixer does most of the work for you, but it's fun to give the dough those last few kneads by hand. The dough feels so soft and warm in your hands. 

The sweet dough is easy to handle and roll out. If it's springing back too much, let it rest about five minutes and try rolling again. Don't be afraid to roll the tube tightly and pinch it when it's done. This prevents the rolls from coming apart as they bake. 

Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

  • 4 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg at room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar (about ¼ cup)
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cooking spray

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ ounce unsalted butter, melted

For the icing: 

  • 2 ½ ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoon milk
  • 5 ½ ounces powdered sugar


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together the egg and egg yolks with the sugar, melted butter and buttermilk. 
  2. Add about 2 cups of the flour, along with the yeast and the salt. Whisk on lower speed until all of the flour is moistened. Switch to the dough hook attachment. 
  3. Add all but ¾ cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a little more flour and knead on low speed another five minutes; continue until no dough sticks to the side of the bowl. 
  4. Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter, and knead by hand another 30 seconds. Place in a bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 2 to 2 ½ hours. 
  5. While the dough is rising, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly distributed, set aside. 
  6. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured counter. Gently deflate the dough and pat into a rectangle shape. Roll into an 18x12-inch rectangle with the long end closest to you. 
  7. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a ½-inch border along the long edge furthest from you,, then spread the brown sugar mix over the dough in an even layer, leaving a ¾-inch border at the top. Gently press the sugar filling into the dough. 
  8. Beginning with the long edge further away from you, roll the dough into a tight tube, maintaining an even thickness. Firmly pinch the dough to seal. 
  9. Using a serrated bread knife or a bench scraper, cut the dough into 1 ½-inch rolls, or 12 even pieces. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the buttered baking dish. Space them out, they will expand during proofing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
  10. Remove the rolls from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Place the dish on the top shelf in a cold oven. Fill a shallow pan two-thirds full with boiling water and place it on the bottom shelf in the oven. Close the oven and let the rolls sit for 30 minutes to proof. Remove the rolls and the pan of boiling water. 
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and when the oven is ready, place the rolls back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. 
  12. While the rolls are cooling slightly, whisk together the icing ingredients Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

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