We all love the idea of a morning spent lounging at home eating freshly baked cinnamon rolls, but who wants to get up at the crack of dawn (on the weekend?!) to do all that work? We knew there had to be a way to enjoy those gooey, yeasty sweet rolls without skimping on sleep, so we set out to create the perfect make-ahead cinnamon roll recipe. You’ll prep the dough and shape the rolls the night before, then tuck them in to the fridge for an overnight rise. Pull the dish out when you wake up and pop it into the oven. By the time you’ve made your coffee and set the table, the rolls be just about ready to eat. Our dough is enriched with plenty of butter and eggs so it won’t dry out overnight. Plus, it’s easy to work with so you can master those cinnamon spirals.

Cinnamon Rolls with maple cream cheese frosting

(Makes 12 Rolls)

Recipe Notes: If you want to break up the work even further, you can make the dough and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours prior to rolling out and shaping your rolls. Just be sure to allow it to come to room temperature before trying to roll it out. You can also make the maple cream cheese frosting in advance. Simply refrigerate in an air-tight container with a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the frosting for up to 48 hours in advance. We packed our rolls tightly into a pan because it fits more easily in the fridge, but you can also space them further apart on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet if you’d like them to puff up a bit more. Note that we used instant yeast (versus active dry) so you can skip out on the extra step of activating yeast.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk, warmed to approximately 100°F
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature and divided into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing your baking pan
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk (optional)

Equipment:

  • stand mixer with a dough hook
  • 9- x 13-inch baking dish or a “half-sheet” pan

Directions:

1. Make the dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and warm milk.

3. Add wet mixture to your dry ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed until the dough forms a large cohesive mass. If the mixture still has dry patches of flour you can add extra milk, a tablespoon at a time, as needed.

4. Add the butter one piece at a time, waiting 20 seconds or so between each addition and continuing to mix for another minute or two after all the butter has been incorporated. The dough should be fairly sticky at this point.

5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times by hand to form a smooth ball.

6. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area.

7. After an hour, the dough should approximately double in size.

8. Shape into rolls. When the dough is ready, turn out onto a floured work surface and punch down a few times before shaping into a rough rectangle.

9. Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a large, even rectangle, approximately 18- x 10-inches.

10. Brush the melted butter all the way to the edges of the dough. Spread the sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on one of the long edges.

11. Starting with the opposite long edge, slowly roll the rectangle into a log, and gently press to seal along the buttered edge.

12. Place the log seam-side down and, using a serrated knife, slice into pieces approximately 1 1/2-inches wide.

13. Place rolls into a buttered baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. You may find it helpful to place the rolls with the loose ends tucked against the side of the pan to prevent from unrolling. Refrigerate overnight for a slow rise (the dough will slowly rise again for a second time). Alternatively, let them rise for an hour in a warm place in your kitchen.

14. The next morning (or after the second rise), pre-heat the oven to 350°F. If you removed the rolls from the refrigerator, allow them to come to almost room temperature, approximately one hour. You should also remove your frosting ingredients from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature during this time.

15. When the rolls are ready, bake on a rack in the middle of the oven until set and golden brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before frosting.

16. Make the frosting while the rolls are baking. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Mix in the maple syrup, and then the powdered sugar in two parts, mixing until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is still too stiff, you can thin it out a little with some milk.

17. Spread frosting generously over the tops of your piping hot rolls. Serve them up and enjoy!

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(Recipe and photos via Jessica Smith Wall / Brit + Co)