Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
This is an updated post from the Macheesmo archives. I’ve wanted to update this Overnight Cinnamon Rolls recipe post SO long because it’s one of my favorites and I messed it up the first time around.
The first time I made these for the blog, I thought “Ugghhhh” when I pulled these guys out of the oven. That’s because these are some of my favorite cinnamon rolls ever. I’ve made them easily half a dozen times. This was the first time that I was making them for Macheesmo though.
And I kinda botched them.
I got cocky and thought I could whip them up quickly. I was in a rush and this is just simply not a recipe that you can rush. So don’t take shortcuts with this one or rush the rise times. Trust me. You’ll be well-rewarded!
1) Combine all dough ingredients except flour in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes for yeast to activate.
2) Add two cups of flour to mixture and stir to combine. If using a stand mixer you can use the whisk attachment still to combine.
3) Once those ingredients are together, stir in all the rest of the flour, leaving about 3/4 of a cup. Either stir well with a wooden spoon to combine and then knead on a counter, or use a dough hook on low speed to knead the dough for 5 minutes.
4) With either method, you might need to add some of the reserved flour. The dough should be soft, but not sticky at all. It should be moist though and not cracking. If it’s too wet, mix in a bit more flour. Too dry? Add a tiny amount of buttermilk.
5) Knead for 5 more minutes and then add to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let the dough rise for at least 2 hours until it doubles in size.
6) Remove dough and roll into roughly an 18×12 inch rectangle.
7) Brush rectangle with melted butter. Fix filling ingredients together in a separate bowl and add to rectangle. Leave an inch at the top so the rolls will seal well.
8) Roll the dough up tightly and slice into 12 equal pieces. A serrated knife works well for this.
9) Add the rolls to a buttered baking dish, cover, and store overnight in the fridge.
10) The next day, remove from fridge and stick the rolls in an OFF oven.
11) Add a tray of boiling water (3-4 Cups) on the rack below the rolls in the oven and close the door. Let the rolls steam for 45-60 minutes until they are big and fluffy. If you want to be really thorough you could even replace the water halfway through.
12) Remove rolls and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
13) Cook rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
14) Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese and milk together for icing. Once combined, whisk in powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.
15) Remove rolls and let them cool for a few minutes. Ice and serve immediately!
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Making the dough
I made a bad version of these where I thought it’d be a good idea to whip up a quick batch… at midnight.
At a minimum it takes about 3 hours to make the dough so this was a pretty stupid idea. And of course it ended up with me rushing some steps that simply can’t be rushed.
Anyway, don’t do that. Do take your time to make the dough correctly.
Too make sure the yeast is working, add it to the buttermilk at room temperature along with the eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and melted butter (not too hot!). Stir this together and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should be dissolved at that point and starting to foam a bit. This is the part that I skipped and it led to less than ideal results.
Next, add about 2 Cups of flour and stir to combine. If you’re using a mixer you can use the whisk attachment. Once it’s all pulled together though, switch to the dough hook and add all the rest of the flour except about 3/4 of a cup.
Knead this with the hook on low speed for about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, don’t freak out. Just stir it all together with a wooden spoon and then knead it on a clean counter until it’s very smooth and soft.
Whether you are using your hands or a mixer, you may need to add more flour so add it in small amounts. You want the dough to be moist, but not sticky at all. In total, you’ll probably need to knead it for 8-10 minutes.
It should look something like this:
Two Hour Rise
Remember how I said that the idea to make these came to me at midnight the first time I made these for the blog? Well, that means that I also didn’t really give the dough ample time to rise. You should let the dough rise until doubled, roughly two hours.
Don’t skimp on the time here! The dough should really double in size.
Anyway, assuming you aren’t in a rush (don’t be in a rush), then you’ll have a beautifully puffy enriched dough that you can now roll out!
Rolling the dough
Before you roll the dough, get your fillings ready to go. I keep it pretty simple: Brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, butter.
This dough is so soft and it’s incredibly easy to roll.
Start out by shaping it into a small rectangle. Be sure to flour the counter or you’ll have some serious sticking.
Roll your dough out into about an 18×12 inch rectangle. Melt about 2 Tablespoons of butter and brush it all over the surface. Then sprinkle on the filling and pack it down!
Then just tightly roll up the dough like a log!
This part is fun.
Slice the rolls into twelve even pieces, or as even as you can make them. A good serrated knife is perfect for this. It’ll slice right through the dough without pulling it and keep the edges really clean.
Add the rolls to a lightly buttered baking dish, cover them, and stick them in the fridge overnight.
The overnight rest allows the dough to get even more flavor and the filling and dough get really bonded together.
Steaming the Rolls.
When you’re ready to cook the rolls the next morning, take them out of the fridge and put them in an OFF oven. Add a dish to the level below the rolls and pour in 3-4 cups of boiling hot water. Close the door and let them steam for about an hour. 30 minutes at a minimum.
Cooking the rolls
When the rolls are puffed up and room temperature, take them out and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the rolls until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
In my opinion, no cinnamon roll is complete without cream cheese icing. To make it, just whisk the cream cheese and milk together until combined. Then whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. If lumps concern you, sift in the powdered sugar.
Let the cinnamon rolls cool for a few minutes and then top them with the icing!
If you make these overnight cinnamon rolls (and you should), take your time, use lots of butter, have fun with it, and you’ll be very well-rewarded.
Here are a few other great cinnamon roll recipes!
- Giant Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll
- Date Cinnamon Rolls
- Bourbon Sticky Buns
- Vegan Cinnamon Rolls from The Loopy Whisk