One roll, but feeds 5 hungry boys so ... this is a great family option!
Though I have included a lot of pictures below, to walk you through the recipe, this is actually a very simple recipe. In fact, I dare say, probably one of the easier yeasted bread options, but with a few extra steps you are making it out-of-this-world amazing.
A couple notes: this is a little different than most cinnamon rolls in that the dough is much more like an egg-rich brioche (meaning you are adding the butter at the end, once the dough has already come together, and started to develop some gluten strength.) Also, this dough would be pretty challenging to knead by hand, so highly recommend using a mixer if you have one with a dough hook. You could do it by hand, sure, but it would be a pretty good upper body workout to get the gluten to develop as you need, and to get the dough to come together.
In fact, there will be a point as you are making the dough when you will question my instructions, recheck the ingredient list, wonder how the gooey mess could possibly come together in a ‘soft dough’. I hope you carry on. The water-yeast-sugar-flour mixture will seem too dry. Add the eggs and keep going. As you add the butter and cream cheese, it will get gooey and very soft, almost batter-like. This is where the kneading will do its magic, and those gluten strands will pull all of it together; don’t be impatient: a solid 8 - 15 minutes of kneading and the magic happen.
Second: pictured, you see a filling with buttery cinnamon-sugar mix. You can add raisins, snipped dates, chopped figs, toasted and chopped nuts, or even tart dried fruit like dried cherries or cranberries. Whatever fruit you add, consider snipping it with scissors or chopping with a knife to get smaller bits.
Fun option: You can make the roll through assembling, and stick it in the fridge, covered, overnight. Then, in the morning, you can pull it out of your fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before preheating the oven and baking. I realize I have a lot of bake-in-the-morning options on the site. I love making the boys a good breakfast, but I definitely don't love putzing around in the kitchen in the wee morning hours, especially before coffee. Figuring out how to make something as fun as a cinnamon roll for breakfast WITHOUT having to roll any dough or wait for anything to rise is a big win, if you ask me!
Also, you can easily double this recipe, but there is no need to double the amount of yeast. Instead, double everything but up the yeast amount by no more than 1 tsp.
Giant Cinnamon Roll
Yields: One 9" or 10" cinnamon roll
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/8 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons warm water
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold; cut into tablespoons
2 T cream cheese
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 T cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
small pinch salt
3/4 cup, confectioners' sugar, sifted
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine yeast, sugar and water and let stand until frothy and foamy. Add flour, one cup at a time, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time until a smooth dough forms. After 7 to 10 minutes, it should clean the sides of the bowl.
Once the dough has developed some strength and elasticity, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the butter and cream cheese and mix on medium speed until it’s fully incorporated into the dough, about 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary, then continue adding the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing to incorporate fully before adding the next piece. Continue this process until all of the butter has been fully incorporated and the dough has formed a soft, smooth ball, about 8 to 12 minutes total. (We don't recommend trying to knead this dough by hand.)
Form the soft dough into a ball, place it in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Then refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight. This will make the dough easier to handle.
To make the filling: When you are ready to assemble the giant cinnamon roll, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter, water, and vanilla and stir until smooth.
To assemble the giant cinnamon roll: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface or a rolling mat and divide in half. (Image 2)
Line a 9" springform pan, or a 9" or 10" cake round that’s at least 2" tall with a parchment round. Set aside. You can also use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, but
still highly recommend the parchment round. Place the pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Roll out each piece of dough into a 9" x 13" rectangle. Divide the filling evenly over each half of the dough. Spread evenly over each entire rectangle all the way to the edges using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. (Image 3)
Gently pick up one of the filling-covered rectangles and place it directly on top of the second rectangle. You will now have a stack of dough/filling/dough/filling.
Use a pizza cutter or bench knife to cut the stacked dough the long way into 1 1/2" strips, resulting in 6 strips. Easiest: cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then each new long thin rectangle into 3 strips. (Image 4)
Starting at the end of one of the strips, loosely roll it up into a coil (as if you were rolling one cinnamon roll) and place it in the center of the prepared pan with the swirl side up. This is the center of the giant cinnamon roll. (Image 5) Make sure you don't roll it too tightly, otherwise the dough will poof up, making a tall center. No harm, and still tastes awesome.
Cut the remaining 5 strips in half crosswise, resulting in 10 strips that measure roughly 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" each. (Image 6)
Working with one double-stack strip at a time, gently pick it up and wind it around the center of the cinnamon roll, starting each strip at the end of the previous one.
Continue assembling this way until you have used all 10 strips. Again, be careful not to coil too tightly; leave some room between the rings for the dough to expand. (Image 7)
The last couple might be pretty snug against the pan. Wipe any filling that may have come out back into the pan; you want every bite of cinnamon-y goodness! (Image 8)
Cover the shaped cinnamon roll and let rise for 60 to 75 minutes, until puffy. If making the night before to bake in the morning, skip the covered pan into the
fridge, and drape a kitchen towel to make sure the plastic stays on (as plastic wrap becomes much less 'clingy' in the fridge).
Towards the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, tenting with foil after 35 minutes. The giant cinnamon roll should be deep golden brown and the internal temperature at the center should be 190°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven, and let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan and drizzling with the glaze.
While the roll is baking, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese, salt, vanilla and milk. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, and stir until well combined. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon roll and serve immediately.
Store any leftovers, well covered, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.