Here’s a glorious reason to get up in the morning: our superlative cinnamon rolls, made with bread flour for satisfying chewiness and potatoes for puffed-up softness. Just spread on the tangy cream-cheese glaze, and pinch yourself—they’re the real deal.
- Unsalted butter
- 1 russet potato
- Whole milk
- Active dry yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Unbleached bread flour
- Light-brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Cream cheese
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Pure vanilla extract
1. Make the Dough
Brush a large bowl with room-temperature butter; set aside. Peel potato and cut into 1-inch pieces; place in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes; drain. Pass through a ricer or mash with a fork until smooth; let cool slightly. Heat 1 cup milk until warm to the touch (110 degrees on a thermometer). Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer; add a 1/4-ounce envelope of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons). Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup mashed potato, 1 egg, 3 1/2 cups bread flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt until a ragged dough forms. Place bowl on mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment; mix on medium-low speed, scraping sides and removing dough from hook a few times, until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface; knead into a ball. Transfer to buttered bowl (dough will be very soft) and cover with plastic wrap. (Dough can be covered and refrigerated at this point up to 2 days.) Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
2. Sprinkle On Spices
Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with butter. In a bowl, stir together 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and a large pinch of salt. Punch down dough; transfer to lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 14-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread evenly with 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on far long edge; top with brown-sugar mixture. Starting at long edge closest to you, roll dough away from you into a tight jelly-roll shape. Transfer, seam-side down, to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Slice and Let Set
Trim ends, then cut roll crosswise into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds with a serrated knife. Arrange, cut-sides up, in prepared dish; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.
4. Bake and Glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove rolls from refrigerator and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove plastic and bake until browned on top and a thermometer inserted registers about 210 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together 4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spread rolls with glaze; let cool 15 to 20 minutes more before serving.
Our rolls can be made, sliced, and frozen up to 3 months ahead. Freeze them in their baking dish, tightly wrapped in plastic, at the end of step 3. When ready to proceed, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight before continuing with step 4.
For the fluffiest texture, let the rolls rest for at least 20 minutes before diving in.
2 More Dream Rolls
For more uncontested crowd-pleasers, give these fillings and toppings a whirl.
Apple-Pecan Pull-Apart Rolls
For filling in step 2: Stir together 3 tablespoons each room-temperature unsalted butter and apple butter. In another bowl, combine 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Spread butter mixture, then sugar mixture evenly over dough; top with 1 cup chopped toasted pecans and 1/2 cup dried currants or chopped raisins. Follow rest of instructions through baking in step 4, using 2 buttered 8-inch cake pans instead of baking dish.
For glaze in step 4: While rolls bake, heat 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons apple butter, and 1 tablespoon water in a saucepan over medium, stirring, until simmering; cook 1 minute. Drizzle over baked rolls; let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve.
Swedish Cardamom Rolls
For filling in step 2: In a bowl, combine 6 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and a pinch of salt. Mix until light and fluffy. Spread over dough; follow remaining baking instructions through step 4, using 2 buttered 6-cup jumbo muffin tins in place of baking dish.
For glaze in step 4: While rolls bake, melt 3 tablespoons each unsalted butter and honey. Brush baked rolls generously with mixture; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Remove from tins (if rolls stick, run a knife around edges), and let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.