I’d say it’s been a very steady year of recipes this 2021. We’ve baked birthday cakes. We’ve stuffed cookies with cheesecake (that one was truly ridiculous I’m sorry). We’ve celebrated some of my aunt Dede’s best recipes, and now here we are – celebrating the end of this holiday baking season with a small batch overnight cinnamon rolls.
Consider this my Christmas morning invitation. Your after church, warm from the oven indulgence. I happen to like an egg before church (fuel for all the holiday greetings and peace be with yous) and a sweet breakfast after church. Christmas morning dessert and I genuinely don’t know what’s better – the gooey center or the coffee cream cheese frosting on these fresh baked rolls
The idea is to prep these rolls anytime on Christmas Eve and bake them off the following morning. They’re unbelievable. Scroll fast down to the recipe if you don’t need the step-by-step instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need to make these overnight cinnamon rolls:
• all-purpose flour
• active dry yeast
• whole milk
• a large egg yolk
• brown sugar
• unsalted butter, some softened and some melted
• kosher salt
• unsweetened cocoa powder and ground cinnamon
• powdered sugar
• instant coffee powder rehydrated in a splash of water
Start by activating the yeast.
Active dry yeast comes to life in a warm liquid. Water that is just warmer than body temperature (say 110 degrees F or so) will activate the yeast but we’re going to use warmmilk for these rolls. I love the richness they add to the rolls. Warm milk and a pinch of brown sugar and the yeast will foam and froth (like the image on the right) when it’s ready to roll.
Combine all of the dry ingredients for the overnight cinnamon roll dough in a large bowl. We’ll bring the dough together by hand but you could do it just as easily in the bowl of a stand mixer if you’d like.
Whisk together the dry ingredients, add softened butter bits, followed by the activated yeast mixture and egg yolk.
Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients into a shaggy dough.
Add a bit more flour as necessary so the dough moves away from a sticky mess and into a more cohesive dough round. I found that just under 2 cups was the sweet spot for me.
As you add more flour, remove the dough from the bowl and give it a knead across the counter for a few minutes. Ensure that the ingredients are well and evenly combined. It’s all very refined, really.
The finished dough will be soft, relatively smooth across the top, cohesive, and moist but not sticky.You’ll want a tacky but not sticky dough.
Return the dough to a lightly greased medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight – up to 24 hours.
(Alternately, if you want to bake the rolls same day, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.)
If you’ve rested the dough overnight, allow it to come back to room temperature for about 40 minutes on the counter at room temperature.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa mixture.
Give the dough a tight roll.
Use a sharp knife or a piece of dental floss to slice the overnight cinnamon roll dough into six mostly equal pieces.
Drizzle the last of the melted butter into the bottom of an 8×8-inch square baking pan or metal pie dish and arrange the rolls an inch apart.
Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so, while you prerheat the oven.
While the cinnamon rolls bake, mix together the cream cheese icing. I added a tablespoon of instant coffee rehydrated in a splash of water. I love how the lightly bitter coffee compliments the sweet rolls.
That’s your fluffy cinnamon roll recipe for the season! I hope this carries you into Christmas morning well. These rolls are doughy, spiced, and spiked. Everything we need!
Small Batch Overnight Mocha Cinnamon Rolls
An easy recipe for a small-batch of perfectly tender and gooey cinnamon rolls. Add cocoa powder and instant coffee to make them mocha flavored and omit them and stick with a classic breakfast treat. Perfect for weekend guests or holiday baking. This small batch can be easily doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch pan.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes + overnight
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes + overnight
- Yield: 6 rolls 1x
For the Dough:
- 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups (187–250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg yolk (1 whole large egg if doubling the recipe)
For the Filling
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
- pinch of salt
For the Glaze:
- 2 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee hydrated in 2 teaspoons water
- 1–2 tablespoons whole milk, or enough to make a spreadable glaze
- In a small saucepan warm the milk to just warmer than body temperature about 110 degrees F.
- Transfer milk to a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Add a pinch of brown sugar. Allow mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes to allow to yeast to activate, foam, and froth.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, brown sugar. Break the softened butter into a few large chunks and add to the flour mixture. Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour the warm yeast milk and egg yolk into the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and stir or beat until incorporated and a ball starts to form. Add up to 1/2 cup more flour, a few tablespoons at a time if the dough feels too wet. Bring the dough together into a smooth ball by kneading by hand for 5 minutes or so.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a roughly 9 x 12-inch rectangle.
- Spread with about 4 tablespoons of melted butter. In a small bowl stir together sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder (if using), and salt. Generously sprinkle over the melted butter. Roll starting at the longer edge into a tight coil.
- Slice into 6 pieces using a sharp knife or a piece of plain floss.
- Use remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter to lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch baking pan. Place rolls in the pan leaving about 1/2 inch of room between them. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight (8-24 hours).
- When you’re ready to bake, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove plastic wrap and allow rolls to come to a cool room temperature. I leave my rolls on the counter for 30-45 minutes. Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown, puffed, and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool just slightly.
- In a small bowl use a rubber spatula to blend together cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar and coffee. Mix and add a splash milk. Add another splash for if your glaze feels to thick to spread. Spread over warm rolls and enjoy!!
Photos with Jon Melendez.