Raise your hand if you don't want one of these right now. (Didn't think so.) And even better: This is the brilliant sort of fluffy cinnamon roll that you don't have to wake up early to make, or eat all at once, thanks to a simple, time-honored technique that keeps them pillowy-soft for days. (No wonder this is King Arthur Baking Company's 2021 Recipe of the Year.) Don’t be deterred by the length of the recipe—much of the time is hands-off, and the method is very forgiving.
As the King Arthur team writes: “There’s something magical about warm-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, that magic often evaporates as the rolls cool. If only it were possible to serve fresh, soft rolls first thing in the morning—without getting up at midnight to make them! Enter our 2021 Recipe of the Year. Whether you enjoy these pillowy cinnamon rolls hot from the oven or up to a week later (if they last that long!), they retain their wonderful soft texture. Paired with classic bold cinnamon flavor and rich vanilla icing, the result is truly the ultimate cinnamon roll.”
A few tips from King Arthur’s bakers:
—While kneading by hand is definitely doable (see Kristen’s tips in the video below), since this is a sticky dough, a stand mixer is recommended if you have one.
—With origins in Japan's yukone (or yudane), tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Chinese cookbook author Yvonne Chen. Tangzhong involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which makes them more able to retain liquid—thus enhancing the resulting loaf’s softness and shelf life.
—Use the lesser amount in the recipe for stronger cinnamons, like Vietnamese (Saigon); the larger amount for milder cinnamons, like Indonesian/Ceylon.
—Do you enjoy your cinnamon rolls with tangy, thick cream cheese frosting instead of vanilla icing? Stir 4 to 6 tablespoons (57g to 90g) softened cream cheese into the icing along with the other ingredients. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier this will be to do. Resist the urge to add more than 2 teaspoons of milk until the icing is fully mixed. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more milk a teaspoon at a time to get it to the consistency you prefer.
—Many of you have asked how to turn this into an overnight cinnamon roll recipe. It's simple: Make and bake the rolls the day before you want to serve them. The rolls stay wonderfully soft for at least 3 days, and we've found the best way to enjoy them for breakfast is to bake them the day before, store them tightly sealed (and un-iced) at room temperature overnight,. The next morning, lightly cover the rolls with foil and warm them in a 300°F to 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread with icing and enjoy.
Recipe adapted very slightly from King Arthur Baking Company.
Want to hear more about this recipe? On The Genius Recipe Tapes, Kristen goes behind the scenes with the geniuses themselves. Check out the show here.
Helpful tools for this recipe:
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Nordic Ware Baking Sheets
- Five Two Essential Cookware