March 1, 2021
Are cinnamon rolls a dessert, or a breakfast food? I’d eat them for either…they are my absolute favorite “comfort” food. In my opinion, there truly is nothing better than a homemade cinnamon roll, still warm from the oven, with a hot cup of coffee.
I prefer my cinnamon rolls to be on the soft side, with the dough completely cooked through, but not firm or dry. I like lots of cinnamon & brown sugar filling for some extra gooeyness. A little citrus zest adds some brightness.
I used to be a devotee to cream cheese frosting, until I tried a crème fraîche glaze, sweetened with a hint of maple syrup. Crème fraîche is much more delicate, and gives the gooey cinnamon rolls a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I was inspired to use crème fraîche as a glaze after tasting Bellwether Farms award winning rendition at the San Francisco Cheese Fest. It is rich and nutty and ever so slightly tangy. If you can get ahold of Bellwether Farms crème fraîche from Sonoma County California, you are in for a treat.
The recipe below is adapted from “Best cinnamon rolls” on Taste of Home.
Cinnamon Rolls With Maple Crème Fraîche Glaze
- 12" cast iron skillet or other baking dish
- parchment paper
- mixing bowl
- stand mixer with dough hook (optional)
- very sharp non-serrated knife or unflavored dental floss
For the dough
- 1 package active dry yeast (NOT instant) 2 ¼ tsp*
- 1 cup warm milk 110° to 115°
- ½ cup sugar (for dough) + 1 tsp to activate yeast
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup butter melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- zest of one orange or two lemons
For the filling
- 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter one stick
For the maple creme fraiche glaze
- 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup crème fraîche
Activate the yeast
- Gently heat the milk (30 seconds in the microwave should do).
- Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar (this helps activate the yeast) and the contents of the yeast packet over the warm milk. Give it a stir and then wait around 15 minutes for the yeast to bubble up. If the yeast does not bubble up, then it is not active and can’t be used.
Mix the dough
- Mix together the remaining ½ cup sugar, melted butter, and eggs. Then add 2 cups of the flour, and then the salt and yeast mixture on opposite sides of the bowl (tip from Paul Hollywood to make sure the salt doesn’t deactivate the yeast) and mix until smooth.
- Add the remaining two cups of flour and mix together.
Knead the dough
- Knead the dough with a stand mixer with hook attachment for 6-8 minutes.
- Place the ball of dough into a bowl greased with a little olive oil, turning the dough once to grease the top so it doesn’t dry out.
- Cover with saran wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size (Eggs, sugar, and milk slow down yeast).
- While the dough is rising, mix together the softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar and set aside.
Shape the dough
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and then divide it in two. Roll out each piece of dough separately into approximately an 11×8 inch rectangle. Add half of the filling to each rectangle of dough. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving ½ inch around the perimeter. Roll the dough up and then slice each roll into 8 equal pieces using a serrated knife (see video for technique).
- Place 8 cinnamon rolls into either a 12 inch pie dish or cast iron skillet or a 9×9 square pan lined with parchment paper.
Prove the dough
- After shaping the dough into rolls, let it rise for another hour.
Optional – Freeze half the cinnamon rolls
- If desired, freeze half or the cinnamon rolls for later by placing them in the freezer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes so they will hold their shape and not stick together. Then, place the rolls in a freezer ziplock bag or airtight container. Defrost the rolls overnight before baking.
- The cinnamon rolls are now ready to bake! As an alternative, they could be conserved in the refrigerator until morning to be baked for breakfast. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 F for soft rolls.
Crème Fraîche Glaze
- While the rolls are baking, mix together the crème fraîche, maple syrup.
- Pour the crème fraîche glaze over warm cinnamon rolls.
- Conserve any remaining rolls in the refrigerator to keep the crème fraîche from spoiling. Reheat in the microwave if desired before eating.