Caramel or frosted cinnamon rolls

This is the same recipe I use for cinnamon raisin bread. Buttermilk makes this one of my favorite doughs because it makes a silky smooth, supple dough that always works. It can be baked as a versatile all-white bread, or part of the white flour can be replaced with wheat, rye, or spelt. I use a 50/50 blend of bread flour and all-purpose flour in most of the white breads I make, sometimes swapping out the all-purpose for other kinds of flour. You can even make it 100% whole wheat, which makes an interesting twist on the cinnamon raisin version. Optionally, include raisins in the dough or distributed on top of the sugar-cinnamon mix that’s sprinkled on the dough before shaping.

Today I’m making caramel and frosted cinnamon rolls from this dough, replacing about 1/4 of the white flour with whole wheat flour. I’ll mix and shape the dough this afternoon and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator, then bake them in the morning. Size these to your preferences. Today I’m going to make them smaller than we used to do for the bakery. When we sold them by the piece we made sure customers got their money’s worth, but we’ll have a whole pan of them so there’s no need to make them huge. I’ll give the time suited for the size we make, but you may have to adjust it for other sizes.

Nothing tricky here. This is a straightforward yeast dough. It makes excellent rolls, either with ooey, gooey caramel or topped with cream cheese frosting while they’re still a little warm, so the frosting softens and drips down the sides. Serve either kind warmed, with a generous pat of butter.

– Joan, 23 April 2021

Caramel or frosted cinnamon rolls

DOUGH

  • 4¾ cups (572 grams) bread flour
  • 1⅔ cups (200 grams) all-purpose, whole wheat, rye, or spelt flour
  • 1½ cups (352 grams) buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup (170 grams) hot water
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter, melted
  • 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt

CINNAMON SUGAR

  • ¾ cup (144 grams) sugar or brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cinnamon

CARAMEL

  • 1 cup (192 grams) brown or dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) whole milk, half & half, or cream
  • 2 tablespoons (44 grams) honey
  • 1½ teaspoons white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¹⁄₈ teaspoon salt

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2⅓ cups (278 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the dough: Melt butter. Add honey, buttermilk, and hot water and stir it all together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Whisk together all the flour, instant yeast and salt and add to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until it all comes together. The dough should feel supple already. If necessary, add water a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer dry, then knead at medium speed for up to 5 minutes. Remove the dough, spray the inside of the bowl with oil and replace the dough. Cover and set aside. Fold twice (see technique here), at 20-30 minute intervals, then cover and proof till dough is nearly doubled in size. Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon while the dough is proofing. Also make the caramel now.

To make caramel: Place all of the caramel ingredients into a saucepan. Stir over medium heat till butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Boil for one minute, to a temperature of about 200ºF. Remove from heat and pour immediately into a 7″x11″ baking pan. Set aside to cool.

Divide dough into two pieces. Gently stretch each piece into a rectangle and cover. Rest dough for 20 minutes, then continue to gently stretch till the rectangles are about 6″x8″. Gently poke your fingers into the dough all over. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar, being careful to stop about ½” from the edge of the dough. Starting at the top end, roll towards yourself, making sure to keep the roll tight. Seal the edge to the roll. Cut each roll into eight pieces.

For caramel rolls, place the rolls on top of the cooled caramel. For frosted rolls, space rolls out in a 7″x11″ greased pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or set aside and allow to rise if baking the same day. Give the rolls room to grow. They’ll rise to almost double in size.

In the morning, take rolls out of the refrigerator and allow to warm up for about 30 minutes. While they’re warming, make the cream cheese frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter together till smooth, then beat in the vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and continue beating till smooth.

Baking the rolls: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Have a larger pan (an 11″x17″ pan works well) ready. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately tip the caramel roll pan upside down over the larger pan. Be extra careful when you tip the pan – the caramel is very hot! Scrape any caramel still in the baking pan onto the hot rolls. Set aside to cool. Remove rolls to be frosted to a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting. Cool all rolls for about 20 minutes before serving warm.

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