photo by Jennifer Johnson
In my house, cinnamon rolls always came out of the oven on Christmas morning. They never lasted long, and meant that we would break into our stockings with slightly sticky fingers. In this family favorite, a bit of cream cheese cuts the sweetness of the icing, and cardamom brings out the flavors of the yeasted dough.
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 1/4-ounce envelope)
3 3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cooking spray, for greasing
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tablespoons whole milk
In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until warm, but do not let simmer. Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and yeast. Whisk to combine. Allow to rest 2-5 minutes, until foam forms on surface.
In a large bowl, combine flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk mixture, then egg, and stir briefly just to combine, about 1 minute. Add melted butter and stir until dough comes together into a ball.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead 4-5 minutes, until elastic and slightly shiny. It will be sticky, but don’t add more than a sprinkle of flour.
Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in a warm area until it has doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
Punch dough down a few times to release air bubbles. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
In a bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Add melted butter and combine into a paste.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Spread brown sugar paste on dough with a spatula or wooden spoon. Leave an uncovered 1-inch border on long edge closest to you.
Starting at long edge furthest from you, roll dough into a tight spiral. Cut into 12 even pieces. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray and and evenly space rolls inside.
Cover rolls lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for a second time, 1-11/2 hours, until rolls have puffed up and are just touching. (They may look small when you first place them in pan but they will grow a lot.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake rolls for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and fluffy.
While rolls bake, beat together cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and 3 tablespoons milk. Add remaining milk if icing is too thick.
Spread icing on rolls while they are still warm, and serve.