Cinnamon and Spice Cream Cheese Rolls
This recipe is from Good Enough.
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I am so proud of these rolls. They were good from the start, but I kept finding excuses to make them again and again because “that recipe needs testing” one more time. No, it didn’t. I just really wanted to make them. They are exactly what I like all at once, both as an end product and as an experience. Kneading the dough and watching it go from shaggy to silky smooth, letting it sit and rise, knowing something exciting is happening. Smooshing together the filling and smelling all the spices and sweetness come together. The shaping and rolling and cutting of the buns. The way they rise and get fluffy and soft and gooey in the oven. It is comfort on comfort on comfort. I can feel my deeper breaths returning as I describe them. These are like cinnamon rolls, but with the cream cheese frosting baked into them, there is even more goo and spice and no sad, dry part in the middle, only a sublime final bite.
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus extra to dust the countertop
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 package)
- 3/4 cup water at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted; plus more, at room temperature, for greasing the bowl
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese (1⁄2 package), at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Make the dough: Place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Give it a quick stir.
- Place the water, melted butter, and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk, breaking up the yolks, until the liquid becomes frothy and yellow, about 1 minute.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients: With a stand mixer: Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture until it comes together into a shaggy dough, about 2 minutes. Switch to the dough hook and knead on a low-medium setting until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. By hand: Lightly flour a clean countertop. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix everything together until a shaggy dough forms. Dump the dough onto the counter and knead until it is smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Grease a large bowl lightly with butter. Shape the dough into a ball, place it seam side down in the bowl, then turn it over so that every side of the ball is lightly greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moist towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, 2 to 21⁄2 hours. It can take more or less time depending on humidity and heat levels. The hotter and more humid, the faster it grows.
- While you are waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling: Place the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves together in a bowl and cream together with a mixer or wooden spoon to form a smooth paste.
- When the dough has risen, dust your countertop with flour. Punch down the dough and form it into a short log. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick.
- Using a spoon or palette knife for icing cakes, spread the filling evenly over the rectangle of dough. Roll it up lengthwise, like a carpet. Slice the log into 12 rolls as evenly as you can.
- Place the 12 rolls into a glass baking dish with the swirl facing up. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap or a moist tea towel and let them rise until they have puffed up just a bit and are getting chummy with one another in the dish, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the rolls until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms are just golden, about 25 minutes. (You should be able to see the color of the bottoms through the glass baking dish.) You want them fully cooked, but not overcooked, or they won’t be as gooey as you want. Serve them as soon as they are cool enough to handle and not burn anyone’s tongue. They will keep, covered, in the fridge for a few days, or if you want to save some for later, wrap them up and freeze them for up to a couple of weeks.
Note: I like to prep this recipe in advance to make mornings a little easier. The dough can be made through Step 4, covered, and refrigerated. The next morning, put it on the counter, do your thing for 1 hour as it comes to room temperature, then make the filling and continue with the recipe.