December 4, 2017 Arley Arrington

Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

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It’s the ho-ho-holidays y’all! I am particularly excited for christmas this year for a number of reasons. One of the most important reasons requires me to share a humble brag: about a month ago, I ran my first race! The Richmond Half Marathon- 13.1 ugly-gruesome, super-freezing miles, preceded by several months of training, drinking more water than wine/coffee every day, actually sleeping at night, and eating (kind of) well. But within 20 minutes of finishing the race, I declared I AM NEVER RUNNING AGAIN. Give me all of the wine, and all of the unhealthy carbs. So may winter 2017 go down in history as The Season Arley Let Herself Go And Had the Best Time Doing It. I’m starting with these cinnamon rolls. The dough is super rich, with milk, eggs, and sugar. And the brown butter in the dough, filling, and icing + the hint of nutmeg in the filling bring them to the next level. I like my cinnamon rolls BIG, so these are BIGGG. That means so many empty calories for your body, but so many wonderful calories for your happiness. Plus, BONUS POINTS!!! I’ve included some tips at the end of the recipe for different ways to make the cinnamon rolls ahead of time, so you can easily pop them in the oven the morning you need them, and maybe bring them to your next holiday brunch and remind your friends of why they need to keep you around. What I’m saying is, these cinnamon rolls will make you happy and popular. You’re welcome!

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour Cinna-Buns Recipe


1 c lukewarm milk

1/2 c granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp yeast

2 eggs

1/2 c unsalted butter, browned

1 3/4 tsp salt

4 1/2 c bread flour


1/2 c unsalted butter, browned

1 c brown sugar, packed

3 tb cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg


8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c unsalted butter, browned

3/4 c powdered sugar (or more to taste)

1 tb vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

  1. Start by browning all of your butter. Place 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk it frequently. The butter will start to brown (burn a little), get a golden hue, and have a nice nutty aroma. Remove the butter from the heat, and divide equally into 3 separate containers (it’ll be a little more than 1/3 of a cup in each container). You’ll use one container right away, and the other two can be stored at room temp.
  2. Make your dough. Whisk together the milk, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, or in the bowl of stand mixer. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, at which point the yeast should be a little foamy. Whisk in your eggs and the first container of (slightly cooled) brown butter. Lastly, add the salt and the flour. Knead with your mixer fitted with the dough attachment, on low, for a few minutes until the dough is smooth, and bounces back a little when you press your finger into it. This took me about 3-4 minutes, it will take longer if you are kneading by hand. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough inside, and cover it lightly with a towel. Allow the dough to rise for an hour, or until it has double in size. This works best in a warm, humid place.
  3. When the dough has risen, get your filling ready. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Your second container of brown butter should have cooled to the point where it is soft and spreadable. If it’s not there yet, you can pop it in the fridge for a few minutes so it can be ready when your dough is.
  4. Shape your buns. Give the dough a good punch to deflate it, and place it on a lightly greased surface. Roll out to a 12″ x 16″ rectangle. Spread the brown over the dough, then evenly sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the entire thing.
  5. Starting with the long end, roll the dough tightly into a log. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Place in a greased baking pan, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes (my 10″ cast iron was perfect for this). In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400°.
  6. When the rolls have double inside, bake in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. They are done when they are golden brown on top (but remember, gooey buns are the best buns).
  7. While the buns are baking, make your frosting. Combine all ingredients (including the last container of browned butter, which should also be a soft, spreadable texture) in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment on high for a few minutes, until the frosting is super light and fluffy.
  8. Spread the frosting on ever-so-slightly cooled buns. Serve them warm if you can, preferably with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

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Make ahead tips!

* Make the dough ahead of time: you can make the dough and allow it to rise overnight in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping it.

*Shape the rolls the night before you need them, and let them rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, let them come to room temp for 30 minutes, then bake and frost them as usual. 

*You can also shape the rolls, allow them to rise for 15 minutes, then pop them in the freezer. Bake them straight from the freezer, just a few minutes longer than you would normally bake the rolls.

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