Delicious & gooey homemade cinnamon rolls with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and all my top tips for perfect cinnamon rolls every single time.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F. Heat the milk in a medium pot over low heat until it reaches 100 degrees F. Remove pot from heat and add in the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Do not stir. Let sit until foamy, which should take roughly 5-10 minutes. (If the mixture doesn't foam you may need new yeast or you could have killed the yeast with milk that was too hot. Start over or your rolls won't rise).
While the yeast is sitting, melt the butter and let it return to room temperature. Once cooled, whisk in the vanilla extract and egg yolk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the yeast/milk mixture.
Using a stand mixer, mix together the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the salt and the cinnamon. Once combined, make an indent in the center and pour the yeast mixture into the indent. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky (~2 minutes), scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, (~5-6 minutes). If the dough is not gathering around the hook you can add a small amount of additional flour. You DO want the dough to be slightly sticky and tacky. Resist the urge to add too much additional flour as this will take away from the softness of the dough.
Remove the dough and shape into a ball (again it will be a little sticky!). Grease the mixing bowl with cooking spray or butter and return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat with the spray or butter. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until doubled. This takes roughly 45 mins to 1.5 hours. Placing the dough in a warm environment will make it rise faster. (I turn off the oven that preheated to 170 degrees, add the bowl of dough into the oven, and crack the oven open a 4-5 inches).
Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the dough. Try to get a rectangle shape that is approximately 15 x 12 inches (with the 15 inch side facing you). Avoid overworking the dough.
In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup softened butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Beat until you have a thick mixture.
Use a butter knife or spatula to spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over the entire dough rectangle. Starting on the long side (closest to you), tightly roll up the dough into a jelly roll style roll.
Cut the roll of dough into 12 equal slices and place in a greased 9 x 13 ceramic or glass pan (avoid metal pans if possible)
Cover the rolls in the pan and allow them to rise until nearly doubled. Again, place in a warm environment to make it raise quicker. About 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Warm the heavy cream for 15-20 seconds in the microwave (you don't want it hot, just not cold/straight from the fridge).
Pour the heavy cream over the risen rolls and allow it to soak down, in, and around the rolls.
Bake cinnamon rolls at 375 degrees F for 17-22 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown at the edges and the center of the rolls are cooked through.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting/glaze. Combine the room temperature cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until smooth.
Allow cinnamon rolls to cool at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and then spread the glaze evenly over the rolls. Enjoy warm!