Almost as good as that expensive store in the mall, which I won’t name. These are less expensive and you don’t need to stop eating at one. Unless you go into sugar and butter overload. There is a recipe in our house that I’ve been playing with. So far, everyone loves these and they are reasonably easy, especially if you have a bread machine.

I have noticed that there is a difference between butter and margarine. Using butter in the bread dough gives it a delicate texture without being crusty greasy that margarine does. But using margarine in the filling and frosting makes it more sweet than butter. So I selected margarine and butter in specific places below. Or if you want you can go all butter.

Plan ahead to take the margarine and/or butter (all 3 sticks) and cream cheese out of the fridge in plenty of time to warm to room temperature before using. They need to be soft.

BTW, “tsp” means teaspoon and “tbsp” means tablespoon. Read carefully.

Bread machine dough:

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature, slightly mushy)
  • 1/4 cup dry milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp yeast

I’ve also recently taken to substituting canola oil for the butter, and using 1 and 1/2 cups of regular milk in place of the water, dry milk, and eggs. I think this makes them lighter. Anyway feel free to experiment.

Dump all the above items at once into the bread machine and run the dough cycle (mix and knead, not bake). Prepare a flat surface like a clean countertop where you can roll the dough. You’ll want to flour-dust the surface so the dough doesn’t stick to it. Take the dough out of the machine and roll it out flat and thin. Aim for a rolled-out rectangle of bread dough that is approximately 12″ x 24″. It’s OK if it isn’t a perfect rectangle.

Filling:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon

Take a 1/2 stick of margarine or butter (room temperature, slightly mushy) and evenly spread it across the entire dough surface using a spatula or similar. Go all the way to the edges. In a bowl mix 2 cups brown sugar and 3 tbsp cinnamon (ground). Brown sugar works much better than white granulated sugar, and common ground cinnamon is fine. If you can get dark brown sugar, go for it if you want a bit more flavor. Use a fork to mix them together in the bowl and break up the brown sugar lumps by squishing them. Dump the mixture on the buttered dough surface and evenly spread it around the entire surface with a spatula or similar, all the way to the edges.

Roll up the dough, using the long side of the rectangle: the roll should be 24″ long when complete. Keep the roll reasonably tight instead of saggy. When done, you should have a roll that is 24″ long and about 3″ in diameter. Using a steak knife or other good cutting instrument that cuts without too much squishing or ripping, gently cut the roll into pieces about 1 3/4 inches wide. You may wish to discard the two end pieces you cut from the roll, because they are uneven, but only if you are a perfectionist. Otherwise dunk them in cinnamon sugar and put them in the baking pan too. I would recommend a spray of Pam on the baking pan, even though there are already 2 1/2 sticks of butter present. Gently place all the cut pieces into a baking pan on their flat cut side. When placing in the pan, try to avoid letting the cinnamon sugar filling fall out. And don’t let them unroll, you may need to pinch the end to the rest of the roll. The rolls should be spaced out in the pan, as they will get bigger while they cook. It should fill about a 9×9 pans plus a 9×13 pan. Give the dough time to rise, so that the rolls in the pan are starting to touch each other. This would take at least a couple hours at room temperature. Placing the pans in a 150 degree oven may help the rising process if you are in a hurry. Cover the pan while rising with something like plastic wrap to keep the dough from prematurely drying.

If the rolls fail to rise, then the filling will run out and pool on the bottom of the pan during cooking. If this happens, take the rolls out of the pan quickly after they are done cooking, then the pooled filling while it is still soft can be scraped off the bottom of the pan and mushed on the top of the rolls. If the pooled filling cools in the pan, then it acts like dried epoxy. It’s better to budget at least a couple hours for rising so you don’t get pooled filling.

Before preheating the oven to 385, move the oven rack so when you put in the pan it will be near the top of the oven. This will get the top of the rolls toasted without overcooking the bottom of them. Bake the rolls at about 385 degrees until the the bread dough on top starts to show a bit of toasty brown, but the rest is still white. Should be around 20 minutes, but look for done-ness instead of just watching the timer. You don’t want them to overcook, as the bread could turn dry and hard. You want them to stay a bit moist, with a very slight hint of moist dough. Take them out of the oven to cool a bit, like 20-ish minutes. Let them cool inside the cooking pans, they will soak up some of the melted filling. While they are cooling, work on the frosting.

Frosting:

  • 4 oz of cream cheese (room temperature, half of a standard 8 oz package)
  • 1 stick of margarine/butter
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Put all these ingredients into a bowl and blend with a motorized mixer until it changes from dusty clumpy to smooth moist frosting. If the cream cheese or butter is cool and not soft, put it in the microwave for a little bit to soften it up. You might want to add a bit more vanilla extract for some more flavor. The cream cheese and vanilla extract is what makes this frosting awesome instead of meh – it makes a big difference for the rolls.

After the rolls go from hot to warm, apply the frosting. If you put the frosting on while hot, the frosting will melt completely, which probably isn’t what you want. Eat them soon after applying the frosting, while they are still warm. All of them, which is why some friends or neighbors should be present or within delivery distance. This ain’t health food, it’s happy food. And drink with a big glass of cold milk.