Mmm, nothing smells like Christmas morning than the sweet aroma of fresh cinnamon rolls hot from the oven. A traditional favorite that brings back great holiday memories, I still love cinnamon buns on Christmas if I’m able to make them (though now that I’m away from home I’m not always able to). Do most of the work today and they’ll be ready to pop in the oven tomorrow morning.
Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns
½ c warm water
2 packages active dry yeast (or about 4 1/2 tsp)
2 Tbsp sugar
3 ½ oz instant vanilla pudding
2 cups cold milk
milk to mix pudding
1 tsp salt
½ c melted butter
6 c flour
1 c butter, melted
2 c brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
Start by adding your yeast, sugar, and water to a mixer. If you haven’t worked with yeast before: To make sure you have the water at the right temperature stick the tip of your pinky finger in the water. If you can’t feel it, the water is a perfect 98 degrees. If it’s too hot or too cold, make adjustments. This is worth taking the time to get right, trust me.
While the yeast is proofing, mix the pudding with 2 cups milk in a separate bowl and whisk until it starts to set up. Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the butter to the pudding along with the eggs and salt; mix. Turn your mixer on and pour the pudding mixture into the yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour one cup at a time and and knead until the mixture is smooth.
Allow the dough to rise for an hour. You can cover the mixer with a cloth and let it rise right in the mixer if you want. While the dough is rising, get the filling ready by mixing the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.
Prepare your counter for rolling the dough by dusting with flour. This dough is really sticky, so you need a lot of flour.
After the dough has risen for an hour, turn the mixer on for about 10 seconds and let the dough mix again. Then dump it out on the counter over the flour.
Sprinkle flour over the dough and then flip it over and reflour. Make sure there is enough flour on the dough so it won’t stick to the counter but do not knead too much extra flour into the dough (it will become too tough).
Roll the dough out to about a half an inch thick rectangle using your rolling pin. Add more flour as needed. Pour the melted butter down the center and spread it out with a basting brush. Try to get it as close to the edges as possible without the butter running off.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mix evenly over the butter. Leave an inch on one side clear of filling so you can seal it shut. Tightly roll the dough into a long roll. Cover two cookie sheets with foil and spray them with cooking spray. Cut your roll into 1-inch individual rolls and place them directly onto the cookie sheets. You can let them rise for another half hour and then bake them, or cover and refrigerate overnight. To cover, spray clear plastic wrap with cooking spray and then lay it lightly over the top of the rolls. (If you don’t spray it first the dough will stick to it. When you try to peal it off, they will just deflate.)
Refrigerate overnight. The next morning pull the plastic wrap off very carefully and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Don’t Forget the Frosting
While they are baking, whip up some tasty cream cheese frosting (that’s really what makes a cinnamon bun so good).
8 oz cream cheese
½ c butter, softened
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c powdered sugar
Cream the butter and cream cheese until they are smooth and then add remaining ingredients and whip for a couple of minutes. You can also make this the night before if you want, just cover and refrigerate. Bring it out of the fridge when you place the rolls in the oven so the frosting has time to soften before spreading (it’s a bit difficult to spread stiff frosting). Serve warm!