Small batch cinnamon rolls for weekend mornings. This cinnamon roll recipe makes just 1 pan of rolls, about 7 or 8 rolls. They’re perfect for a small family.
Each year, I like to share one regular-size recipe with you. Over the years, I’ve made you a pumpkin pie with coconut milk made in a regular 9″ pie plate instead of a mini one. Last year, I shared a batch of my family’s Czech kolaches that makes one dozen rolls. (Though, regular kolache recipes make dozens of rolls, so I feel like this is a still a small-batch recipe).
Anyway, this year, I polled on instagram which kind of recipe you would like to see. Christmas morning recipes slowly climbed to the top of the list. And truthfully, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I might serve this Christmas morning.
This is the first year that Camille really ‘gets’ Christmas. Last year, we had cranberry cornmeal waffles, and she fumbled her way through unwrapping gifts while asking ‘why the wrapping paper, mom?’
But this year, she totally gets it. She sat on Santa’s lap, told him 1298 things she wants for Christmas (all out of ear-shot of Mom, so it’s a guessing game now), and she’s reminding me dozens of times a day to buy carrots for Santa’s reindeers.
It’s safe to say we’re deep in Christmas spirit and thinking of ways to make each day special and joyful.
It’s time to introduce Camille to the joys of a cinnamon roll slathered in cream cheese frosting. Sure, she’s had donuts before, but a cinnamon roll is a whole different thing of beauty. She can unravel the roll, lick the frosting, and put sprinkles on top, too.
Small batch cinnamon rolls, overnight method:
I have a quick cinnamon rolls for two recipe on this site, but they’re made with baking soda instead of yeast to help you get them on your table in less than 45 minutes. Christmas morning warrants real cinnamon rolls, made with actual yeast.
I’m still going to take the easy route and make these overnight cinnamon rolls. Take advantage of being able to get your kids to bed slightly earlier than usual on Christmas Eve, and make a batch of cinnamon roll dough before bed. Spread the butter, cinnamon and allspice filling on top, roll it up, slice and arrange them in a round pan. Pop them in the fridge overnight to rise slowly. In the morning, pull them out of the fridge to do a final rise on the counter at room temperature. Preheat the oven, and bake just before the kids wake up.
You can even make the cream cheese frosting the night before and let it come to room temperature while the rolls rise before baking.
Why a long, slow rise is best for yeast doughs.
I’ve been watching quite a bit of Great British Bakeoff (every single episode, to be exact), and if I’ve learned anything it’s that Paul Hollywood recommends a slow rise for yeast doughs. He claims the flavor is enhanced by a slow rise, and after one bite, I completely agree. When yeast rises slowly, the benefit is a richer flavor in the final result.
A slow rise in the fridge overnight is definitely the way to go with cinnamon rolls.
This small batch cinnamon roll recipe makes 7-8 rolls. I have 7 rolls here in the photos, because I became a little too obsessed with slicing off the ends to expose the perfect spiral. You will probably get 8 rolls out of this recipe. Don’t be like me and cut off too much from the ends when you’re slicing the roll.
I added a little allspice to the cinnamon and sugar mixture, because allspice is the aroma of Christmas in my mind. Camille added the snowflake sprinkles on top because her Frozen obsession hasn’t wained since she saw the movie 3 months ago.
I’m still not sure if this is the only full-size recipe I’ll share with you this year; I’ve got my eye on a Paul Hollywood recipe for German Stollen. But, I think you can use these small batch cinnamon rolls all year long.
I hope these small batch cinnamon rolls brighten your holiday season!
For the cinnamon rolls:
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided use
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/4 salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
For the frosting:
- 1 ounce of cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- splash of heavy cream
- First, make the cinnamon roll dough: first, heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove top to 110-degrees F.
- Pour the milk into the bowl of a small stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar and all of the yeast. Stir to dissolve, and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check to make sure the yeast is alive and foaming. If not, the yeast is dead or not properly activated and you'll have to start over.
- Next, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small dish, and add it to the mixer bowl. Add the egg and mix to combine everything.
- Finally, add the flour and salt and mix until a soft dough forms. It should take about 4-5 minutes in the stand mixer. The dough will be soft, but it shouldn't be overly sticky when you pinch off a piece.
- Flour a work surface, and dump the dough out onto it. Knead the dough with your hands for about 2 minutes until the dough comes together and feels supple and easy to work with.
- Gather the dough into a ball, cover it lightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles (about 2 hours). I place mine in the oven on the 'proof' setting; if your oven doesn't have a proof setting, place the bowl in a warm place (on top of a radiator, near the stove, or in a barely warm oven). The dough is done rising when you gently press it and it springs back.
- Now it's time to roll out the dough. Punch the dough down and place it back on your floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 10x6" rectangle, using extra flour as you go to prevent sticking.
- Take the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and soften it in the microwave so that you can easily spread it over the rectangle of dough.
- Mix the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with the cinnamon and allspice in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the dough.
- Begin rolling the dough up starting with the longest side. Roll away from you for best results. Roll the dough tightly but do not squeeze.
- Once the dough is rolled up, trim off the ends to expose the swirl.
- Slice the dough into 7 or 8 equal pieces. You can use unflavored dental floss to make the cuts without smushing the dough, or just use a knife.
- Line a 9" cake pan with parchment paper, and arrange the rolls in the pan. Cover it very tightly with plastic wrap--ensure the dough is not exposed to the fridge air or it will dry out and prevent rising. Place the pan in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
- The next morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the roll rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Once the rolls have puffed up and are just barely touching each other, preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.
- While the oven preheats, make the cream cheese frosting: beat together all of the frosting ingredients, adding more cream to make it a smooth, spreadable consistency.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes, until the edges of the rolls start to turn golden brown.
- Frost the rolls while they're still warm and serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 391Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 49mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 2gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g