I have this photo of Aimee and George from a few years ago. They’re sitting next to Santa Claus and his fake stuffed reindeer. George’s face is nearly purple, screaming in terror at the proximity of this jolly stranger. Aimee stands, arms crossed, with a pout on her face that says, “I’m only doing this because I was promised a candy cane.” Christmas 2017 was short of merry, but this year, with a 5 and 3 (and 5 month!) old, the magic of Christmas is really starting to take on a life of its own. As the Mom, I’m enjoying the tradition of things like decorating our home, constructing gingerbread houses, and singing Louis Armstrong to and from school, but my absolute favorite thing to do is indulge in Christmas food and drinks- the tastes and flavors that make this season feel like what it is. These gingerbread cinnamon rolls are a choice breakfast item for getting into the holiday spirit, and I’m thrilled to be sharing them with you today.
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
There is absolutely no way to dream up a prettier make-ahead breakfast treat. These gingerbread cinnamon rolls have the ease and simplicity of my make-ahead cinnamon rolls with all the flavor and holiday richness of your favorite Christmas treat. The spirals, the frosting, the deep amber color of the buns all feel over-the-top in the very best way, and don’t you think that’s what Christmas food should be all about? These gingerbread cinnamon rolls are fluffy, smoothly-spiced, and are sweet and sticky from the gooey filling and lemony cream cheese frosting. They’re just divine. Let me tell you how to make them.
Making the Rolls
We start these rolls with yeast and warm liquid in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow the yeast to dissolve and barely bubble before stirring in the butter and molasses. The rich, dark flavor of molasses is one of the primary flavor contributors of these rolls. Together with a bit of sugar, the molasses sweetens the dough and keeps the rolls tender. Next comes the dry ingredients of flour, salt, and spice. The dry ingredients help the dough comes together in a wet and shaggy mixture that should tornado up on the kneading hook of your mixer but still feel slightly tacky to the touch. Set is all aside to double in a bowl in a warm area of your kitchen.
Once proofed, roll out the dough and slather it with melted butter, sugar, and loads of spice. Spiral it tightly into a long log and use a sharp chef’s knife to slice into individual rolls. Place the buns on a sheet pan to rise for a second time prior to baking.
Icing the Rolls
I love to prep these gingerbread cinnamon rolls in advance and bake the following morning. If allowed, they’ll rise overnight in the chill of your fridge and will be plump and ready for baking the following morning. It’s best to frost with the butter and cream cheese frosting just before serving to keep it gooey and fresh. After baking, the rolls are soft to the fork, festively spiced, and practically beg for a cup of coffee. They’re delicious.
I’m honored to be sharing these gingerbread cinnamon rolls in partnership with my friends at Kerrygold. Their premium butters are my go-tos in the kitchen, particularly when I’m taking time to make a special treat like these morning rolls. I love the rich flavors and higher fat percentage that they add to my baked goods, especially when I’m making something that I prefer to be soft and gooey. Kerrygold is a surefire thing, and I hope you’ll give it a try in your own kitchens. As always, thank you for supporting brands that make Wood and Spoon possible. Give these gingerbread cinnamon rolls a try and let me know what you think! Have a great week and happy baking!
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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
These gingerbread cinnamon rolls are loaded with molasses and holiday spice flavors and served with a lemon cream cheese glaze on top!
- Prep Time: 60
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 240
- Yield: 16
- Category: Breakfast
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup (120 gm) milk, lukewarm
- ¼ cup (60 gm) water, lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons (85 gm) unsalted butter, melted but not too hot
- 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup molasses
- 2–1/2+ cups (350 gm) all-purpose flour
- 1–1/2 cups (210 gm) bread flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 5 tablespoons (70 gm) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2–3 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup (150 gm) brown sugar
For the frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (230 gm) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Milk as needed
To prepare the dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, combine the milk and water and sprinkle the yeast over top of it. Allow the yeast to dissolve, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter, egg, egg yolks, and molasses until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the flour, bread flour, and salt. Dump about half of the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Pour in the remaining dry ingredients and knead in the bowl using the dough hook attachment until smooth and slightly tacky, about 7 minutes. If you notice your dough isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl or it’s too wet, add flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a little dough “tornado” around the dough hook. Once done kneading, place the dough into a large lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to double in size, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours.
- Once the dough has risen, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle about 11”x21” in size. Pour the melted butter and spread it out over top. Combine the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough. Starting with one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough from end to end and pinch the edges together to seal. Cut the dough into 1-1/2” sections and lay them out 2” apart in a lightly greased baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Keep the baking dish close to the oven while it preheats to help the rolls come to room temp. Once preheated, bake in the oven for about 22-25 minutes or until the edges are barely golden and the internal temp is 185 degrees. Remove from the oven and prepare your frosting.
To prepare the frosting:
- Cream the cream cheese and butter in large bowl at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and beat to combine. Add additional milk to thin out the frosting or more powdered sugar to thicken it. You can also gently warm the frosting to pour over the rolls as a glaze. Cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed warm.