cinnamon rolls
Photo: Liz Pearson
"God almighty, my cinnamon rolls are knock-dead delicious. They've been to Gayle's radio show; to Harpo to meet Fergie, the Duchness of York; to Oprah's place in California. But it's Tyler Perry who loves them most. Last Christmas I cooked for him at a ranch near Jackson Hole, and he asked me to make these rolls just about every other day. I put them on the menu at my new restaurant in Atlanta, Southern Art, as Tyler's rolls." —Art Smith

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 (¼-ounce) packets active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix, prepared according to package directions and made with whole milk
  • 24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) unsalted butter (8 Tbsp. melted and cooled, 16 Tbsp. at room temperature), divided, plus more for greasing
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 cups bread flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted (optional)

Directions

Active cooking time: About 1½ hours
Total cooking time: 3 to 4 hours (plus overnight rising time)


In a medium bowl, combine water, granulated sugar, and yeast; set aside until very foamy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a large bowl with oil; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat prepared pudding, 8 Tbsp. melted and cooled butter, and eggs on medium speed until well combined. Add yeast mixture and beat again until combined. Add salt and then flour, 1 cup at a time, incorporating it first on low speed, and then working your way up to medium speed, mixing well after each addition.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, dust with flour, and knead to form a smooth ball, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Grease a large, rimmed baking sheet with butter; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Transfer dough to a large, floured work surface and divide into 2 pieces. Roll out each piece into a 12- x 16-inch rectangle and spread 4 Tbsp. butter over each. Scatter cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over dough, and then snugly roll up each rectangle, starting with the short side, to form 2 (12-inch) logs. Cut each log crosswise into 6 rolls and transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a light kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake rolls until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make frosting: In a large bowl, beat remaining 8 Tbsp. butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until well-combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat again until creamy and combined, about 1 minute.

While rolls are still hot, drop a large dollop of frosting over the middle of each one, spreading it out a bit with the back of a spoon, and then scatter pecans over the top (if using). Serve rolls warm or at room temperature.

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