Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Is there anything more comforting than the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven on a cool autumn day? Go ahead, pour yourself a cup of freshly brewed coffee, grab a plate and eat a few forkfuls of piping hot cinnamon roll and just lounge around in your pajamas. It will sure be a perfect day, no matter what. 

There is always something about cinnamon roll that keeps my heart fluttering. Perhaps it gives me a sense of familiarity as it reminds me of home, of those days I warm Cinnabons in the toaster for my merienda, or those dreary office mornings when I'd race to Starbucks Salcedo to grab a Cinnamon Swirl. I don't know but it brings a warm fuzzy feeling.

Cinnamon rolls are hard to come by here in Taipei. The closest thing to Cinnabon would be Costco's Cinnamon Rolls which are sickeningly sweet and a little on the chewy side. Ikea has them too, but without the glaze, and so does Hogan Bakeshop in Eslite Xinyi. And so after a long unsuccessful search for a good Cinnabon-like cinnamon roll, I tried a random Cinnabon-copycat recipe one day in April and I've never bought Costco's rolls ever since. I have made this recipe a total of four times and it always comes out the same- soft and pillowy rolls, not too sweet and the glaze is just perfect.

I'm copy-pasting below the recipe from Jo Cooks and included some tips:

    1 (2¼ tsp or ¼ ounce) package active dry yeast
    1 cup warm milk
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    ⅓ cup margarine (I used softened butter)
    1 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    4 cups flour

    1 cup packed brown sugar
    3 tbsp cinnamon
    ⅓ cup margarine, softened (or butter)

Cream cheese icing
    6 tbsp margarine (I used butter)
    1½ cups powdered sugar (Add gradually and taste if the sweetness is just right)
    ¼ cup cream cheese
    ½ tsp vanilla
    ⅛ tsp salt


1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in warm milk in a large bowl. (Tip: I would usually proof the yeast to make sure it is active, but you may skip this part. To proof, warm the milk until it reaches around 105-110F. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar then add yeast powder. Let sit for 10 seconds, then stir. Wait for another 10 minutes and make sure the yeast mixture is foamy and has bubbles on top and smells like 'beer'. When you get this result, it means your yeast is active.)

2. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well.

3. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated. (Tip: If you have no mixer like me, you can do everything using a wooden spoon. This will help in toning your arms hehe.)

4. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. (Tip: We usually place the dough inside the oven because it's warm and dark. Turn on your oven to 150F for around 1-2 minutes then turn it off. Let the oven cool a little before putting your bowl of dough inside.)

5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx ¼ inch thick.

6. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

7. To make filling, combine butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

8. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. (Tip: We added chopped pecans but this is optional.)

9. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss vs a knife. (Tip: We used a floss- not the minty kind! You don't want your cinnamon rolls to taste minty.)

10. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.

11. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! (Tip: Check from time to time as they get brown fast!)

12. While the rolls are baking make the icing but mixing all ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. (Tip: Again, you may use a wooden spoon and your hands.)

13. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing. Serve hot.

 It's time to turn on your coffee maker. Get a plate, a fork and eat your heart out :)

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