This Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls recipe is one of the best you will ever make! They're soft, fluffy, and incredibly delicious! Serve them warm, frosted with this small-batch cream cheese frosting, and you have yourself the perfect breakfast or brunch treat!
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In a small saucepan, warm the buttermilk over low-medium heat until warm to the touch. You can also microwave this in a heat-proof glass measuring cup for 15 seconds at a time until the buttermilk is warm. Set to the side.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the instant yeast, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add in warm buttermilk, lightly beaten egg, and melted butter, stirring briefly with a spatula until the dough just begins to form.
½ cup Warm Buttermilk, 1 ½ teaspoon Instant Yeast, 1 ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour, 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar, ½ teaspoon Salt, 1 Large Egg, 2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook and knead at a low speed for 7-8 minutes or until the dough has come together. The dough should be soft and a little sticky that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If it’s still very sticky, you can add in the additional ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, one (1) tablespoon at a time. You can also choose to stir the dough by hand with a danish dough whisk instead of using the mixing bowl and dough hook.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, kneading it with your hands into a soft and smooth ball. Then transfer it to a lightly greased medium bowl. I use Baker's Joy to coat the bowl, but you can also use an olive oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and/or a clean tea towel and place it in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rest and double in size (about 1 hour).If you plan to let the dough rest in your oven (see notes below) do not use plastic wrap!
For the cinnamon sugar filling
In a small mixing bowl, mix together the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and ground cinnamon. Set to the side. The softened butter will be used as a spread when we assemble the cinnamon rolls.
2 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar, 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar, ½ tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
Assembling the rolls
Lightly spray a ⅛ sheet pan or a 6-inch round (or square) baking pan with a flour-based baking spray and set to the side.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down using your fist, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Make sure to lightly flour your rolling pin too. Roll the dough out to about a 6” x 12” rectangle. Spread the softened butter onto the dough with an offset spatula leaving about a ½-inch border, then top with the cinnamon sugar filling.
3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Starting at the longest end of the dough, roll up tightly to form a log.
Using a sharp knife, slice the dough log into 6 equal rolls then place onto the prepared baking sheet or into the prepared baking pan, cut side down. I like to use a ruler to help evenly mark my cinnamon rolls.
Cover again with either plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot of your kitchen. Allow them to rise for an additional 30-35 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Meanwhile, adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center) and preheat your oven to 350ºF.
If making overnight small batch cinnamon rolls cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Let sit at room temperature for it's second rise 1 hour before baking. Don't forget the egg wash too.
In a small bowl lightly beat the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water, then brush onto the rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350ºF or until the rolls are a light golden brown in color. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before adding the cream cheese frosting.
1 Large Egg + 1 tablespoon Water
For the cream cheese frosting
In a small bowl, mix together the unsalted butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The amount of frosting is small though so a hand mixer will work best here.This frosting can be made a day or two in advance of making the cinnamon rolls. Keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature 20-25 minutes before using.
2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, 2 oz Cream Cheese,, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, ¾ cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
Slightly beat your egg before adding it into the dough mixture.
If additional ¼ cup all-purpose flour is needed add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time. For reference, ¼ cup equals 4 tablespoons.
To let your dough rest in a warm oven, adjust the oven rack to the middle or center position. Preheat your oven to lowest temperature, then turn off the oven once it is preheated. Place your bowl of dough in the oven with a medium-size bowl of boiling water on the rack below with the door closed. After 1 hour, open the door and remove the dough (and the bowl of water).
When slicing the dough into rolls, use a ruler to mark where you will be cutting so each roll is roughly the same height.