Words like fluffy, pillowy, soft, and tender don’t even prepare you for the divine experience of these Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls. Because yes, they are heavenly.
The dough is dreamy and the Japanese tangzhong method of cooking milk and flour together is the secret to its softness. I confess I almost like it more than brioche! https://68929dbdae0986db5f439a473dd439fa.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
In addition to the tender, delicate dough, these rolls have a robust dose of cinnamon, sugar, and butter. For the finishing touch, I slather them with buttery vanilla cream cheese icing. Make them once and these rolls will become part of your weekend repertoire too!
For this recipe, I break it up over two days. Make the dough on day one, let it sit in the fridge overnight, then in the morning, shape and roll the dough, let it rise again, and within an hour, you’ll be biting into a buttery, cinnamon-laden roll.
What is Tangzhong?
The feathery texture in these rolls comes from the Japanese technique of mixing a cooked slurry of liquid (milk or water) and flour, into the dough, called tangzhong. The technique is used in Hokkaido milk bread but is now used in many baking recipes including this cinnamon roll recipe and another favorite, Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Rolls.
The technique pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour, which allows the dough to absorb more liquid than typical bread dough. That also translates into a longer shelf life.
Two to three days later your rolls will still be soft, although it’s doubtful they will be around long enough for you to test that theory.
Why an Overnight Rise?
On day one, you will mix the dough and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (up to 12 hours). On the morning of the second day, you’ll shape the rolls and let the dough rise again before baking.
An overnight rise gives the dough more time to develop flavor. It also breaks up the work, allowing you to fill and bake the rolls in the morning and have them for breakfast about an hour later. In addition, the dough is much easier to handle when it is cold.
Filling and Cutting Tricks
Here are a few tips to make rolling, filling, and cutting the rolls easier:
- The dough is so pliable, that it doesn’t need strenuous rolling. Start by patting it into a rectangle on top of a floured piece of parchment paper. Finish shaping the rectangle by rolling it with a rolling pin.
- The cinnamon filling resembles a thick icing, which is easy to spread over the dough, avoiding the messy crumbs of sugar and cinnamon.
- Shape your cinnamon rolls with ease—since it’s on a piece of parchment, the sheet of dough can be rolled into a cylinder evenly. Just lift the edges of the paper nearest to your body as you roll the dough away from you.
- Cutting the rolls with a knife can be tricky since the pressure of a knife can cause them to lose its shape. Instead of a knife, use dental floss or string to cut the rolls. Once you’ve marked out the portions with a paring knife, slip a thin piece of string or unflavored dental floss underneath a section. Grasp the ends and pull the string tightly in opposite directions to cut through the roll. Easy and fun!
How to Store Cinnamon Rolls
The best way to store cinnamon rolls is to place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid after they have cooled completely.
You can also wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic wrap: Lay a large sheet of foil or plastic wrap on the countertop and bring the edges up and over the rolls, trying not to smash the frosting but also making sure the packet is sealed. Wrapped as suggested, you can store cinnamon rolls for up to 2 days at room temperature or up 5 days in the refrigerator (after that, refrigerated rolls tend to dry out from the cold.)
To Freeze: You can freeze them frosted or unfrosted wrapped in aluminum foil as noted above for up to 2 months. If unfrosted, store the frosting separately in the freezer and bring it to room temperature.
To reheat frozen rolls, place them on a baking sheet and cover them loosely with foil. Reheat in a 300ºF oven for 10 to 20 minutes, or until warm all the way through.
Overnight Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls
For the tangzhong
- 1/2 Cup water
- 1/3 Cup bread flour
- 1/2 Cup whole milk
For the dough
- 2/3 Cup cold whole milk
- 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted
- 66 gms granulated sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 Cold large eggs
- 480 gms bread flour
- 14 gms instant yeast
- 1/4 Cup powdered milk
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp olive oil (for the rising bowl)
For the cinnamon filling
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 Cup dark brown sugar
- 1.5 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 gms salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the glaze
- 4 Ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract