Is it brown butter? Or browned butter? Both seem acceptable and interchangeable. I feel like browned butter is technically correct but most people seem to use just brown. Who knows. These are brown butter cinnamon rolls though so you can see where I landed.
Some cinnamon rolls are perfect little rolls all baked up separately. Kind of like my Chai Sweet Rolls. These are not those kind of cinnamon rolls. These are more tear and share style. The dough is soft and probably a little bit sticky, but they will be like bites of heaven. This dough is tender as it has milk, and butter, and eggs. It’s not enough egg to be brioche but it’s definitely soft. Now, the brown butter is not in the dough itself, but honestly the brown butter cream cheese frosting is so insane you won’t be able to tell. The cinnamon rolls are great on their own as well, but the frosting honestly takes the flavor up 10 times, so don’t skip it!
We use bread flour in lieu of AP because it helps keep that softness and fluffiness but also imparts some extra chew. If you don’t have access to bread flour, you can totally use AP though. Your rolls will be just as fluffy and soft. But if you’re worried these little babies are like a cloud even with bread flour.
You may notice there isn’t any sugar in the dough which isn’t a typo. Sugar is hygroscopic which means it attracts water molecules which can make breads feel drier even when they aren’t. Additionally there is a lot of sugar in the filling and frosting so I promise it can be left out and you won’t miss it. Your dough will also rise just a little faster.
I have baked these rolls in both a metal pan and a glass pan. I would highly recommend a metal pan as it will just bake a little quicker and more evenly. Glass pans stay hot much longer than metal so they will continue baking unless they are removed from the pan, which also will dry out your buns. I recommend a metal 9×13 inch cake pan or maybe even two 8/9 inch round cake pans.
Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls Key Ingredients
- Brown Butter – While it’s not in the dough, the frosting adds so much flavor you won’t be able to tell that it’s not throughout the whole bake. If you don’t want to make the frosting I’d probably recommend browning half the butter in the filling to get that same flavor.
- Milk – Milk is going to add flavor and tenderize your dough.
- Bread Flour – Bread flour has a higher protein count which creates more gluten. Gluten gives your bread an airiness and chew that makes it so deliciously satisfying.
- 480 g Bread Flour 4 cups
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2½ tsp Instant yeast
- 1 cup Whole or 2% Milk warmed
- 2 large Eggs Room temperature
- 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract or paste
- 4 tbsp Unsalted butter melted
- 2 ½ tbsp Baker's Dry Milk optional
- 135 g Dark Brown Sugar ⅔ cup
- 2 tbsp Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Nutmeg ¼ tsp or less
- 6 tbsp Unsalted butter softened
Brown Butter Frosting
- 3 tbsp Salted butter
- 4 oz Cream Cheese softened
- ½ tsp Pure vanilla extract or paste
- ½ cup Confectioners' sugar sifted
- Combine flour, dry milk*, salt, yeast, milk, egg, vanilla, melted butter in bowl of mixer with dough hook attached. Mix dough on low/medium low until you have a smooth, soft dough that is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will still be sticky. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover for 75-120 minutes to rise or until doubled in size.
- Combine brown sugar nutmeg and cinnamon in small bowl and mix. Try to get out as many sugar clumps as possible. Add softened butter and mix to create a paste.
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment or lightly spray with cooking spray if not nonstick.
- Transfer dough to a work space and roll out into an 13×15" rectangle. Spread the sugar mixture over the dough, leaving about a ¼ inch to ½ inch border on the long sides.
- Starting on the long side, roll dough onto itself creating a log shape. Mark and cut your dough into 12 pieces either with a serrated knife or a piece of thread or non-flavored dental floss. I use a piece of thread, slid under the dough that is crossed over and pulled to cut each piece cleanly without compressing the dough down but a knife is also perfectly fine. Place each roll in your prepared pan. Cover and let rise for about 30-45 min. The rolls will have puffed up.
- While the rolls are rising, place your butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and stir until butter has browned. Pour into a small bowl to cool as soon as it starts to brown as you do not want your butter to burn.
- While your rolls are proofing, preheat your oven to 350°F.
- After your rolls have risen, place them in the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 22-24 minutes. They should be just lightly golden brown.
- While the rolls are baking, combine your soft cream cheese and cooled browned butter with vanilla in a small bowl. You can mix by hand but using a stand or hand mixer will be easier to make the cream cheese mixture more fully combined. Mix until combined and then add ½ cup of sifted confectioners’ sugar.
- When your rolls come out of the oven, I immediately spread about a teaspoon of frosting over the center of each roll allowing the hot rolls to melt that frosting and it to seep into the centers. Then after the rolls have cooled for about 5-10 minute I finish frosting them. Enjoy cinnamon rolls while warm!