Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

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You know those times when you’re sitting in church and you realize you’ve zoned out for the past 5-10 minutes and completely missed everything the pastor said?

Yeah, you do, because we’ve all done it.

Scanning the grocery list in your head; thinking about that funny thing your friend did at that party the night before; wondering why the book you just finished ended like that and why the main character never found out why her mother ever left her in the first place and whether or not she ends up raising bees and making honey for the rest of her life??? Ugh.

Well I’m sure I spaced out a LITTLE this past Sunday, but not enough to miss the fact that it was a really great service.

Sunday mornings can be really refreshing, and not just because of a church service. Sunday brings a newness to the week, and also a day of rest and fellowship. I was very grateful for this past Sunday with Christ and friends and family and food. I felt new and refreshed.

Can you make your next Sunday like this? Or even your Tuesday evening or Thursday afternoon? Give yourself a moment to feel new and refreshed. Do that for yourself, c’mon!

Anyways. I also felt like this was the week to make some cinnamon rolls. And boy was it ever.

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This is one of my favorite recipes to make from one of my favorite blogs, Joy the Baker.

(p.s. the butter in the picture above is melted. Don’t do that. You’ll end up adding it to your dough and then wondering why it’s not coming together and then going back to your recipe and realizing you misread it. Or at least that’s what I THINK could happen. Just saving you some dough in the trash. Real life 2013)

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These are yeast-based rolls, meaning we’ll have some serious rising dough in just a second. We first check if the yeast is active by letting it sit in some warm water and watching for it to foam and bubble. Check and check.

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This is what your dough looks like as it starts coming together. It will be sticky and wet. I like to call it ‘Florida Weather Dough’.

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This is decadent dough, with a stick of butter kneaded into it before letting it rest and rise. Heaven help us.

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After the dough is kneaded in a stand up mixer with a dough hook attachment, we move the dough to a well floured surface and knead in about another 1/3 cup of flour. The dough is still slightly sticky but is able to be handled a little easier.

Purty.

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Cover the dough for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and let rise until double in size. Happy little dough ball turns happy big dough ball.

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While the dough is rising, we’re making our filling. A mixture of so much goodness.

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The dough is rolled out into a 10 inch circle and smeared with some softened cream cheese. Things are getting really real, really fast. Hang on.

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In order to knead the cream cheese into the dough, we must fold. We’re folding like a letter, really, then inverting it on our surface. Observe.

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Yes! flip this little dough pocket/letter so seams are facing down, then roll dough back out into a 10×20 inch rectangle, approximately. It’s alright if it’s a little less.

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Some cream cheese might sneak out while you’re working, but not to worry. Just stay patient and roll gently and slowly.

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Next, our filling! Fill it good.

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Roll this bad boy up, keeping the roll not too loose so the filling doesn’t fall out.

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Once rolled, we cut! I was able to get 9 giant rolls out of this.

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After these are cut, they will go in a warm place for a second rise, about 2 hours. You can also let these rise in the refrigerator overnight.

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These rolls are sooooooo baked.

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Once baked, the rolls are glazed with a buttermilk icing.

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These are for surely best warm with a milky cup of coffee. And if you just finished making these yourself, congratulations! This is definitely not the easiest recipe I have posted, but well worth all the toil and waiting. Taste and see.

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CREAM CHEESE CINNAMON ROLLS

Recipe from Joy the Baker

Makes 9 giant cinnamon rolls

FOR THE DOUGH:

one 1/4 package active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan

FOR THE FILLING:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoons ground cloves

2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE ICING:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk

MAKE THE DOUGH:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 cup very warm water. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Stir with a whisk until combined. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine onto medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.

Add the softened butter and continue to knead on medium-high for 6 minutes. The dough will be wet and sticky. That’s just right. Place the dough on a well floured surface and knead in an additional 1/3 cup of flour. The dough will still be a little sticky, but that’s okay. Set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, MAKE THE FILLING:

Combine the sugar, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Add maple syrup and stir until combined. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. You may need to add 1 to 3 tablespoons of flour. Knead for 1 or 2 minutes, until it is no longer sticky. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a 10×10 inch squarish circle.

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese with a fork until it is smooth and spreadable.

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square. Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit in an envelope. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold in thirds again, making a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is facing down, then gently roll out into a 10×20 inch rectangle. It is okay if some of the cream cheese sneaks out. Just stay patient and keep gently rolling.

Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. The rest of the butter will be used after the rolls are baked. Pour all of the filling onto the dough, spreading evenly and leaving a 1 inch border at one of the short ends of the dough so that the rolls can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up one of the short bottom edges of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place the dough cylinder seam down and using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the edges.

Cut the cylinder into 9 equal slices. Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced out, into a buttered 9×13 inch pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. You can also let these rolls rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Uncover the rolls. If you’ve let them rest overnight in the refrigerator, allow to thaw for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, MAKE THE ICING:

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your sugar and buttermilk until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack, and immediately brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into your icing and drizzle over the rolls.

Serve IMMEDIATELY. Rolls will last, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. But really, will these last 2 days?

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