As much as I love having dessert leftovers and making use of them, some things are just meant to be eaten fresh the day they’re made. I feel strongly about this in the case of cinnamon rolls; the only problem is that most cinnamon roll recipes make a dozen or more, which is fine if you’re feeding a whole family, but if you live alone or with a partner, it’s just far too much.
Enter, my small batch cinnamon rolls. These babies are so, so, so good. They’re fluffy and gooey and rich and yield just four rolls. The only problem with this recipe? They’re so easy I can make them every day.
INGREDIENTS FOR SMALL BATCH CINNAMON ROLLS
These small batch cinnamon rolls don’t require a ton of ingredients; here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Milk: I recommend 2% or whole milk, but know that non-dairy/nut milks will also work (I’ve tried it!) If you don’t have any milk, you can also use 5 tablespoons of water instead.
- Granulated sugar: This is used to help activate the yeast and sweeten the cinnamon rolls.
- Instant dry yeast: Use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. You can also use active dry yeast, but the cinnamon rolls will take slightly longer to rise.
- Butter: The one and only. You’ll need it for the dough and the filling.
- All-purpose flour: Only one cup of all-purpose flour is needed! If your dough is too sticky, you can add up to an additional tablespoon of flour, but I wouldn’t recommend adding more than that otherwise you’ll have dry cinnamon rolls.
- Brown sugar: For those cinnamon swirls; you can use light or dark brown!
- Cinnamon: YUM.
- Cloves: DOUBLE YUM. (Also totally optional.)
- Salt: Cinnamon rolls made without salt taste a little plain. Also, salt helps to control the yeast, so don’t skip it.
The icing is truly unforgettable too! Just cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste. YES PLEASE.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re safe and sound at home and that these small batch cinnamon rolls bring you some comfort during these uncertain coronavirus times. Let’s get quarantine baking, shall we?
Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
- 5 tbsp milk warm (110°F)
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- ¼ tsp sea salt
For the Filling:
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves (optional)
For the Frosting:
- 3 oz cream cheese softened
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- splash of milk
- Make the dough: In a small cup, mix together the yeast with the milk and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let the mixture sit in a warm place until bubbly/foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining tablespoon of sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour, followed by the melted butter. Stir until a dough forms and then lightly knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. If your dough is sticky, add up to one additional tablespoon of flour.
- After lightly kneading, form the dough into a ball and transfer it back to the bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
- Make the filling: While the rolls are rising, make the filling. Add the melted butter, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves to a small bowl and stir until combined. Set aside.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a rounf 6-inch baking pan or pan of an equivalent size. (Optional: sprinkle up to a tablespoon of brown sugar on the bottom of the pan for rolls with a lightly caramelized bottom.) Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and, using a rolling pin, roll into an 8×4-inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
- Spread the cinnamon sugar filling all over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 8-inch-long log and cut into 4 even rolls. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Bake the rolls for 13-15 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown on top and cooked through. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the softened cream cheese until creamy. Add the remaining icing ingredients to the bowl and whisk until smooth and combined. If the icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add more milk. Spread icing over warm rolls.
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