Photographers Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains

Cinnamon Rolls

You will need:

  • Stand mixer (optional)
  • Red Star Yeast (it’s so forgiving and you will have perfect baked goods, every time)
  • Saigon Cinnamon (the best flavored cinnamon)
  • Pastry mat (makes clean-up a breeze)
  • Dough cutter (works as a scraper too, to get stuck-on dough off surfaces)
  • Baking Pan (9×13 or 10×15, depending on what you need)


  • I recomment Red Star Platinum yeast. This is an instant yeast which means you don’t have to let it proof. If you don’t use instant yeast, be sure to allow the yeast to proof in the warm milk until it is frothy. This will take an extra 5 minutes or so.
  • Be sure that your milk is warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too hot so that it kills the yeast (about 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit). You’ll also want to warm the butter so it is soft and mixes in easily.
  • Bring the eggs to room temperature by placing them in a glass of warm water before adding them to the mix. Avoid cold ingredients to help the yeast do what it needs to do quickly, and to give a beautiful rise to your cinnamon rolls.
  • While you are working with your dough, be careful not to add too much flour. The dough is supposed to be tacky, which is what keeps these homemade cinnamon rolls soft. It shouldn’t completely stick all over your hands, but if you touch it should feel tacky and not dry and floury.
  • After you let the dough rise in a greased covered bowl until it is double in size, you’re ready to roll the cinnamon rolls. Use a pastry mat sprinkled with flour to keep the dough from sticking. Remember that the dough will be tacky and it is ok to add flour on the pastry mat and on top of the dough itself for easy rolling. After you’ve rolled the dough, spread the cinnamon filling on top and roll-up jelly-roll style. Cut into 12 rolls for a 9×13 pan or 15 rolls in a 10×15 baking pan.
  • After the rolls are cut and you have allowed them to rise in the pan, right before they are ready to baake, warm your heavy cream in a small bowl. Adding warm (not cold or hot) heavy cream will keep the rolls rising as they should during baking. Pour the heavy cream over all of the rolls to allow that rich cream to soak in and around the cinnamon roll dough. If you don’t have cream you can use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk, 2% milk, or coconut cream will work but you will probably prefer the higher fat milk.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 1 cup warm milk (about 115 degrees F)
  • 2-½ teaspoons instant dry yeast. I recomment Red Star Platinum Baking Yeast. Different yeast calls for slightly different proofing methods so check your yeast packet to see what temperature the milk should be at.
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup salted butter (melted, but make sure it isn't super hot.
  • 4-½ cups all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Ingredients for the filling:

  • ½ cup salted butter (almost melted)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup heavy cream (for pouring over the risen rolls)

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • ⅓ cup salted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tablespoon maple extract (or vanilla)


  1. Pour the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Add the eggs, butter, salt and sugar. Add in 4 cups (save the other ½ cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
  2. Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook and beat the dough on medium speed, adding in up to ½  cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. The dough should be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper and set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double. You can turn on the oven to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes and then turn it off and place the dough to rise in the oven. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.
  4. While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
  5. Sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the pastry mat and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about a 24×15" rectangle.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the cinnamon filling over the whole dough rectangle.
  7. Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style. Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13 baking pan.
  8. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly double.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Warm the heavy cream until it is warm to the touch. Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. The time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan is used, and how close the rolls are packed. They could take up to 25-27 minutes so check the rolls at 20 minutes and if they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.
  12. While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer. Blend well. Add in your favorite extract and the powdered sugar. Beat until combined.
  13. Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls and store in an airtight container.
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Cinnamon Rolls
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving:
Calories: 617
Total Fat: 30 g
  Saturated Fat: 18 g
  Monounsaturated Fat: 6 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g
  Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 112 mg
Sodium: 427 mg
Potassium: 70 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 80 g
  Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  Sugars: 49 g
Protein: 7 g
Vitamin A: 59%
Vitamin C: 8%
Calcium: 42%
Iron: 1%
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