The best brioche cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting; perfect for Christmas morning or any old treat yo’ self day!
Hi friends! Now that my book, Frosted, is mostly finished I wanted to update some of my favorite old recipes. I first published this recipe for brioche cinnamon rolls back in January 2018 and I’ve become quite the cinnamon roll addict since then.
I’ve created a few different types of cinnamon rolls, like caramelized white chocolate rolls, lemon and brown butter rolls and even s’mores rolls. However, one must never deny that the original is always best.
What is brioche dough?
There is lean dough, like ciabatta, bagels and sourdough, which is generally made of just flour, water, yeast and salt. These doughs usually don’t contain much fat in them unlike enriched dough. Enriched dough generally refers to a dough that’s rich in butter, eggs, milk, etc. which makes the dough high in fat. The most popular types of enriched dough are brioche and challah.
Brioche dough usually contains some eggs, milk and butter. The ratios are usually specific to the recipe but the main difference between brioche and challah is that challah contains a lot more eggs yolks. The fat added from the milk, eggs and butter tenderizes the dough, making it super soft and fluffy. Think fluffy french toast or a soft cream stuffed donut.
How to make brioche cinnamon rolls
Making dough can be intimidating and it sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. There is a lot of science behind baking and especially dough with yeast, it’s actually very interesting but I’ll spare you the nerdy stuff. I’ll just give you a few things to keep in mind.
- Flour: the added fats will weigh down the dough, making the gluten weaker. That can be balanced with a flour that has a higher protein content, such as bread flour. This recipe is made specifically using all-purpose flour to make it easier for those who don’t have access to bread flour.
- Milk: There is an enzyme in milk that weakens the gluten in flour so to counteract that you want to make sure to always heat up the milk. Just before a boil, when the milk is scalding, around 181 °F (83 °C) , the enzyme gets denatured.
- Eggs & egg yolks: eggs are known to be a leavening agent so they help with the rise of dough. Egg yolks are full of fat so they provide an extra tender dough.
- Mixing: Because of the high fat content in the dough weight down the gluten, it’s best to fully knead the dough and then add in the butter. This ensures that the gluten was fully developed and strong before the extra weight is added.
- Proofing: Dough made with room temperature butter is best if proofed at warm room temperature, about 75 °F (24 °C).
What kind of yeast to use for brioche dough
I wanted to do a whole separate section on this to explain how to use boat active dry yeast and instant yeast in this recipe. I’ve made this recipe many many times with both types and both of them turn out amazing.
The recipe is written using instant yeast because it’s easier and quicker but if you want to substitute it for active dry yeast, just follow these instructions.
Unlike instant yeast, active dry yeast needs to be activated. To do this, let the scalded milk cool a little until it’s just warm and then combine the yeast with HALF of the sugar and the warm milk in a large cup, mix it and let it rest for 10 minutes. The milk should develop a thick layer of foam on top.
If the milk and yeast mixture doesn’t foam after at least 10-15 minutes, then the milk is either too hot or the yeast has expired. To be safe, make sure the milk is lower than 120 °F (50 °C).
After the mixture has foamed, combine it with the rest of the dry ingredients and proceed to kneading. Once the butter is combined, the dough needs to rise for about one hour, covered at room temperature. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe and make sure to let it proof for another 30-45 minutes after the dough is shaped/rolled.
How to know when dough is done rising/proofing
Rising and proofing are used interchangeably but the initial ‘resting time’ is actually the rising and the second ‘resting time’ is the proofing. The time needed for rising/proofing is dependent on the recipe and the environment.
A general guideline is that the dough should double in size. It should also slowly spring back when you press on it, but also leave a small indent. If the dough springs back quickly, then it needs more time to rise. If it doesn’t spring back at all, it may be over proofed and result in a flat, deflated bread.
How to make brioche cinnamon rolls overnight
Brioche cinnamon rolls can easily be prepped the night before and baked in the morning. After the dough is rolled and sliced and placed in the prepared pan, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge overnight. Remove the rolls from the fridge about 45 minutes before baking them. Bake them per the instructions.
How to store brioche cinnamon rolls
Brioche cinnamon rolls are best served fresh and warm. If they’re not served immediately, it’s best to reserve the frosting and frost them before serving. The rolls can stay in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days (unfrosted) and refrigerated for up to a week. When serving brioche cinnamon rolls, reheat them in the microwave or the oven just until they’re warm and then frost.
If they are frosted and not eaten right away, refrigerate them and reheat them before serving, keeping in mind the frosting will melt and probably look separated but it will still taste good.
If you’ve made it this far, I apologize for the length but I hope this post is helpful to make the best brioche cinnamon rolls! Make sure to tag me @baranbakery on instagram and as always, have a blessed day and happy baking!