On Christmas morning we wake up with the kids and look into the stockings and open presents. The kids are so excited we really can’t do much else before that! But after all that excitement is done, I usually go into the kitchen and bake the cinnamon rolls I started on Christmas Eve. In fact, we’ve traditionally called these Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls because it’s pretty much the only day I make them (except for Daring Bakers challenges). This year was a bit different since we were on the go on Christmas Eve and up very late with final preparations, so I didn’t even get started on the rolls until the next morning. The kids were ready to eat and I had to say, “How about some Cheerios while I fix the cinnamon rolls?” That held them off for a little while, although the house was cool and the rolls weren’t rising as quickly as I would have liked. I put them in the warmest spot in the house, our laundry room, right in the sun hoping that they would rise more quickly, but luck was not on my side. Instead of having these for breakfast or brunch, they became an afternoon snack. But we did have them on Christmas Day!
The rolls are a delicious Meyers family tradition that Michael’s mom started and we have continued, but I added the cream cheese glaze because for me a cinnamon roll is not really a cinnamon roll without some sugary glaze on top. The dough is soft and silky and pretty easy to make, especially if you use a stand mixer, but you can of course mix and knead by hand. Mix the dough up and shape the rolls on Christmas Eve then allow them to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning take them out as soon as you wake up and let them come to room temperature, then bake. The cinnamon aroma makes the house smell wonderful!
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour, divided
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 4 teaspoons half & half
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
- 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups sifted confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Stir together 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast in in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Heat milk, 1/3 cup butter, sugar and salt until warm and butter is almost melted. Add to flour mixture and stir. Add the egg. Beat with mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high for 3 minutes.
- Stir in 2 cups of flour. Attach the dough hook and mix on low speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and hangs onto the hook. Sprinkle in a little more flour as necessary, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is sticking to the bowl.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Place in the lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Punch down turn on floured surface. Cover with a towel and let rise 10 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle 18″ x 10″. Make sure the butter is very soft and spread it on the dough. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the dough. Top with raisins and nuts. Roll jelly-roll style and pinch the seams to seal. Using a sharp knife or dental floss, cut the cylinder into 12 even slices. Arrange the rolls cut side down in a 9x13x2-inch pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise 30-40 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
- If the rolls are in the refrigerator, bring them out and let them come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the rolls with the half & half. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
- While the rolls are baking, mix the cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until all the lumps are gone, about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk until the glaze is slightly runny. Drizzle over the hot cinnamon rolls while still in the pan.