I love homemade cinnamon rolls. This pecan cinnamon roll recipe started with a recipe I received from a co-worker for his mother's Texas Style Pecan Cinnamon Rolls. Several iterations later I came up with the recipe for these gooey, sweet, soft and delicious cinnamon rolls. They're made with plenty o butter, brown sugar and of course cinnamon and topped with a yummy apple cinnamon frosting.
How to Make Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls are a yeast dough filled with delicious cinnamon filling. The nice thing about a cinnamon roll filling is that you can get very creative with flavors. Since the key ingredient is yeast you want to make sure your yeast is active. I used active dry yeast. To ensure my yeast is good I proof it in warm milk. The yeast should bubble and expand if it is good. If it doesn't work through it out. Check the expiration on the package, you make need to buy new yeast.
Another key ingredient is room temperature. It's important for the kitchen to be warm, at least 70 degrees so the rolls rise. My kitchen gets very cool during cold weather and if you struggle with the same thing see my directions below for creating your own proofing box in your oven. My oven has a proofing function, but since not everyone has this feature I tested the recipe with the proofing box method.
How to Make a Proofing Box
One of the challenges of baking during cold weather is having a kitchen that is too cool for the dough to rise properly. So here are the directions to make your own proofing box in your oven will help ensure that your cinnamon rolls get a proper rise.
Bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Pour 8 cups of boiling water into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set it on the floor or bottom rack of your oven. Place the bowl with the covered dough on the middle rack of the oven, close the door and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Repeat these steps for the second rise.
Cinnamon Roll Filling
The pecan cinnamon roll filling is made with brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little salt, and melted butter. I process the brown sugar and the pecans together in a food processor to finely chop the nuts. Processing the nuts and sugar together also ensures the nuts are evenly distributed. Pour the sugar nut mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the butter and mix with a spatula until well combined. This only takes a few minutes.
How to Roll the Cinnamon Rolls
After the dough has risen in the bowl you’re ready to roll the cinnamon rolls. Use a pastry mat sprinkled with a little flour to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should not be too sticky and will be easy to roll.
The dough is rolled into a 12 x 19-inch rectangle. It is an odd size, but after the dough is rolled the ends are cut off to create straight even ends. After you’ve rolled out the dough, spread the pecan-cinnamon filling on top and roll it up into a firm cylinder. Cut it into 12 rolls that are 1-1/2 inches thick each. Place the rolls in the 9 x 13-inch pan. I use a pan with straight sides which will produce square cinnamon rolls.
Gooey Moist Cinnamon Rolls
I printed this recipe as part of a collaboration. One of the things that one of the other bakers mentioned was pouring heavy cream over the risen rolls right before they went into the oven. While I tried it twice and it worked both times. So the secret to moist gooey cinnamon rolls is heavy cream. Warm the cream until it is slightly warm and pour it over the rolls. Do not pour cold cream over the rolls.
Cinnamon Roll Frosting
After the cinnamon rolls have baked and your kitchen smells like cinnamon heaven, it’s time to frost them. I decided I wanted to add apple flavor to my cinnamon rolls, so I made a frosting with powdered sugar, freeze-dried apples, cream and a touch of cinnamon. I processed the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and apples in the food processor to pulverize the apples and thoroughly combine the ingredients.
I added the butter to the powdered sugar mixture and used a fork to work the butter into the sugar. Start by adding half the heavy cream and then add the remainder depending on how thick you want it. The frosting will be a little lumpy because of the freeze-dried apple but when you frost the rolls it will melt into the rolls and smooth out.
Add half the frosting to the rolls when they come out of the oven so the frosting soaks into the rolls. Wait for the rolls to slightly cool and add the remaining frosting.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
For overnight cinnamon rolls, place the unrisen cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator for at least 16 hours. Let the buns rise at room temperature for 1 hour before baking. If your kitchen is cold repeat the steps for making the proofing box.
I hope you try this recipe. If you do please leave a comment or post a picture on Instagram and tag me @bakesbrownsugar.
Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cinnamon Frosting
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 4 1/2 cups (626 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk heated to 110 degrees F
- 3/4 cup (169 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 4 ounces pecans
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Apple Cinnamon Frosting
- 2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup (28 grams) freeze-dried apples
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and brush it with melted butter.
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- Place the brown sugar and the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are well chopped. Place it in a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the melted butter and stir with a spatula will thoroughly combined.
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer whisk together the flour and salt. Combine the milk and the sugar and heat to 110 to 115 degrees F. Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top and stir in the yeast. Allow the yeast milk mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has bubbles and has increased in volume.
- Use the dough hook attachment and with the mixer on low speed slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Then add the eggs one at a time and mix until the dough starts to come together and no dry flour remains, about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl down as needed.
- Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the butter is fully incorporated about 6 minutes. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth, elastic and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place the dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl of container, cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Create a proofing box in your oven. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Pour 8 cups of boiling water into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set it on the floor or bottom rack of your oven. Place the bowl with the covered dough on the middle rack of the oven, close the door and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- When the dough has risen gently turn the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Use your hands or an offset spatula to spread the filling across the dough and leave a 1/2-inch border. With the long side towards you, roll the dough into a firm cylinder. Roll the dough until the seam is face down. Trim the ends so the cylinder is 18 inches long and the ends are straight. Cut 12 rolls 1 1/2-inches wide each.
- Place the rolls in the buttered pan evenly from each other and the sides of the pan. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. If your kitchen is still cool you can recreate the proofing box in your oven.
- About 15 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, remove the rolls from the oven (if proofing in the oven) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the heavy cream until just warm about 75-77 degrees F. Right before the rolls are placed in the oven, brush the rolls with the warm cream. The cream mixture will settle to the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 30-35 minutes until they are golden brown, and the internal temperature of one of the middle rolls is 203 degrees F. I test the temperature with a Thermapen Mk4 thermometer.
Cinnamon Roll Glaze
- While the rolls are baking. Place the powdered sugar and the freeze-dried apples in the food processor bowl. Process until the freeze-dried apples are reduced to fine bits. You might need to rub the powdered sugar mixture between your fingers to check the size of the apple pieces. Scrape it into the bowl, add the butter and use a fork to combine the butter and the powdered sugar mixture. Add 4 tablespoons of the heavy cream and stir. Add 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze smooth and thick and the desired consistency.
- Spread half of the mixture over the cinnamon rolls when they first come out of the oven. The glaze will melt into the cinnamon rolls. When the rolls have cooled slightly spread the remaining glaze on the rolls.
- Serve the rolls warms or at room temperature.