Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
We’re not just talking about cinnamon rolls today; we’re talking about developing a super power. Would you rather be able to fly, be able to breathe under water, or be able to make a batch of cinnamon rolls and eat all of the warm centers just because you can?
Flying… we have planes for. Breathing underwater we made tanks for…. also there are three things called sharks, piranhas, and stinging jelly fish so why would we want to be down there for too long? Cinnamon rolls from your oven all to yourself… no downside. No biting fish, large or small.
These rolls are carrot cake inspired with fresh shredded carrots inside a spiced and yeasted cinnamon dough. The filling is rich and sweet, studded with raisins and walnuts… All the goodness of carrot cake, deconstructed and brought back together again. If raisins or walnuts offend you, as I know there are carrot cake purists out there… go ahead and substitute in sardines or garlic… you know, something less gross. I get it.
Mis en place is important when it comes to cinnamon rolls. We need to know what is what when it comes to dough, filling, and frosting. A lot of elements have to come together to eat those doughy doughy dough centers.
To make the carrot cake dough we start with flour, brown sugar, salt and carrot cake spices: cinnamon + ginger + allspice + nutmeg.
Yeast is bloomed in warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Egg and melted butter for richness. Because why would we make a cinnamon roll any other way!? We’re civilized humans with big brains.
Before mixing the wet and dry cinnamon roll ingredients on the stand mixer, stir together into a shaggy-wet mixture with a spatula. This will help the dough hook work its magic.
The eternal cinnamon roll questions? Is the dough too wet? Too dry? Is it supposed to stick to the sides of the mixing bowl.
Yes. No. Yes.
You don’t want cinnamon roll to be too thick or dense. A bit wet and sticky is the way to go. The dough will stick to the sides of the bowl. Scrape and add a bit more flour but keep the dough moist and tacky.
Carrots added for carrot cake affect and added sweetness.
These rolls do not taste like carrots… perhaps to your dismay, perhaps to your excitement.
Risen and soft. Carrot-studded because we’re crafty.
Rolled to a 1/4-inch thickness and ready for filling!
Butter first followed by brown sugar, spices, raisins and walnuts (sardines and garlic was totally a joke…). You miiiight want to add more shredded carrots into the filling, but I skipped the extra vegetable part.
Sliced to eight for a rise and a bake.
Buttery, golden brown and bubbling with sugar and spice. It only gets better from here because Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting!
Look at what we’ve done! So much better than breathing under water.
Now… if we got to have a mermaid tail while breathing under water… that’s a whole other story. That’s probably better than cinnamon rolls, plus you get to comb your hair with a fork.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 - 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for your workspace
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup finely grated carrot
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
- 2 - 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- pinch of salt
- splash of whole milk
- Heat milk to a warm 99 -105 degrees F. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk along with a pinch of sugar. Stir to combine. It's ok if the mixture is lumpy. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, during which time the mixture will froth and foam.
- After the mixture as foamed, whisk in the melted butter, beaten egg and vanilla extract.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together 3 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, and spiced. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to just combine. Knead on the dough hook for 5 minutes. Add more flour as necessary to create a smoothe, cohesive, and slightly sticky dough. The dough will still stick to the sides of the bowl some. That's ok! Add shredded carrots near the end of the kneading and knead for 2 minutes more.
- Scrape the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl, sprinkle with a bit of flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
- While the dough rests, assemble the filling and frosting.
- To assemble the filling, in a small bowl toss together sugar, spices, and salt until thoroughly combined.
- To assemble the frosting, in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and butter until evenly combined. Add pineapple and sugar and salt, and beat until smooth. Add more sugar or milk to control the consistency. Set aside.
- To assemble the rolls, dump the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for a few turns. Use a floured rolling pin to roll to a 1/4 inch thickness. My dough was about 10-inches long and 8-inches tall Drizzle with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and spice mixture, and sprinkle with raisins and walnuts. Starting from the long end of dough, roll into a tight coil. Slice into 8 even slices. Transfer to a greased deep pie dish and cover with plastic wrap, allowing the rolls to rise for 30 minutes.
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When rolls have risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until baked though, golden and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before frosting.
- Frost generously with prepared frosting and serve warm.
- Rolls will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator for three days. Gently warm before serving.