Buttery brioche is rolled with ample butter, cinnamon and sugar and formed into delicious large brioche cinnamon rolls. These rolls are served with a slathering of brown butter cream cheese frosting for the most delicious cinnamon rolls you've ever tasted.
What is brioche?
Brioche is an enriched dough which just means it's a yeast dough with added eggs, butter and milk. It is a French bread that is light and fluffy and tastes very rich due to lots of butter.
It's the perfect dough for cinnamon rolls with the buttery dough complementing the cinnamon butter filling.
How to proof your yeast and make the dough
To start the brioche cinnamon rolls, you will begin to "proof" your yeast. This simply means that you are making sure the yeast is alive before combining it with the other ingredients.
To do this, warm some milk in the microwave or on the stove until it reads 100- 110 degrees. Add the milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Stir it into the milk and let it stand for about 5 minutes until it is foamy.
The foam tells you that your yeast is good and you can proceed with the recipe. If for some reason the yeast didn't foam then you would want to start over with new yeast. This would happen due to the milk being too hot or the yeast being too old.
From here, the rest is really simple. You will mix in your eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture and then let the mixer do the magic. Mix on low for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
Next, you'll add in the very room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon of butter incorporate fully before adding the next. Then mix for another 4-5 minutes until the dough is sticky but smooth and shiny. You'll grease another bowl with baking spray and then transfer the sticky and wet dough into the new bowl.
Cover this bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half until it's doubled. If your kitchen is cool, you can turn on your oven and set the bowl near the oven for a warmer environment.
Tips for perfect brioche dough
While brioche can seem intimidating, it's not as hard as it seems! Follow the tips below for an approachable way to make the brioche for these brioche cinnamon rolls.
- Proof your yeast- Babka dough uses yeast so before you make the dough, make sure your yeast is alive and foamy. Or, use instant or rapid-rise yeast added to the dry ingredients to skip the proofing step but make sure the milk is still warmed before adding it to the ingredients.
- Use very soft butter- Once the dough has come together it gets enriched with butter...lots of butter! To make sure the butter is incorporated easily, use very soft butter. You should be able to push your finger through the stick of butter with little to no resistance. If the butter is too cold, microwave it in 5-10 second increments on half power being careful not to melt it.
- Refrigerate the dough if it's too warm- If the dough feels too warm after the first rise, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. Just cover it up in the bowl it rose in. This will make it easier to roll and cut it.
How to assemble the cinnamon rolls
Once the dough has doubled in size, you will dump it out onto a lightly floured counter and roll it out to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Next, you'll spread the cinnamon, butter and sugar paste onto the dough. Spread it all the way to the edges except for one long edge where you'll leave a ½ inch border.
Starting at the long edge without the border, roll the dough into a tight log, pressing the seam together at the end. Cut about a half-inch off each end so that each roll will be perfectly even and have the same amount of filling.
Cut the roll into 12 even rolls. I like to cut once in the middle of the roll and then cut each of those halves in half. You'll then have 4 halves. Cut each into 3 rolls.
For a super easy trick to cutting these brioche cinnamon rolls, use unflavored dental floss. Slide a length of dental floss under the log and then pull the 2 ends to criss-cross over the top of the rolls, pulling tight to make a cut. Using dental floss keeps the rolls from collapsing under the knife and makes clean cuts.
Place the rolls in a 9 x 13 pan coated with cooking spray and let them rise in a warm place for about an hour until they are puffy and mostly touching in the pan. Now you get to bake them, cool them slightly and slather them with a healthy dose of brown butter cream cheese frosting!
How to make overnight cinnamon rolls
If this is too much of a project to tackle in one day or you'd like those brioche cinnamon rolls to be baked fresh the morning of serving, follow these steps to make them overnight.
- Make the dough and let it rise in the bowl until doubled, 1-1.5 hours.
- Roll it out and fill it as described above and then cut the rolls and place in the baking dish.
- Instead of letting them rise a second time, cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil and place into the refrigerator overnight.
- The next morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and let them rise for about 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and touching.
- Bake and frost as directed!
What is browned butter?
Browned butter involves melting and cooking down the milk solids in the butter. Water evaporates and the milk solids turn a deep caramel color and rich aroma.
Doing this adds a rich, nutty flavor to the butter that is pure heaven. It's a one-of-a-kind taste and worth the extra few minutes to make.
How to make browned butter
While making browned butter is no more than melting butter on the stovetop, there are a few tips to ensure it turns out perfectly.
First, cube the butter into tablespoon pieces and place it in a light-colored saucepan. Cutting the butter into the same size cubes makes it melt faster and more evenly. The lighter color of the saucepan will help you see the browned bits on the bottom.
On medium heat, melt the butter. This should take around 2-3 minutes to completely melt the butter and start to boil it. At this point, your mixture will look like the picture below: bubbling and very slightly foamy.
It will then start to bubble even more rapidly before turning foamy.
Stir frequently during this process so that it cooks evenly and doesn't burn. When it turns foamy, just quickly stir the spoon so that you can see the color through the foam.
You want to take it off the heat once it turns an amber golden brown color. Scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan as those contain lots of flavor!
At this point, you'll put your brown butter into the refrigerator to chill until it's a solid again. This will probably take an hour, so plan accordingly. Complete this step first before starting the brown butter cream cheese frosting.
Yes, if you only have instant yeast, just skip the proofing part of the recipe and add the same amount of yeast to the dry ingredients of the dough. Continue with the recipe as written. The milk still needs to be warmed as in the recipe so make sure not to skip that step.
Yes! There are two ways you can do this.
1. You can bake the brioche cinnamon rolls, cool them and freeze them either individually by wrapping them in plastic wrap and foil or wrapping the whole pan in plastic wrap and foil before freezing. You’ll want to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then heat them up in the microwave before eating.
2. You can make the rolls through cutting them and placing them in the pan. Instead of letting them rise and then baking them, wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and foil and freeze. The day before you want to bake them, let them thaw overnight in the fridge. The day you bake them, remove the thawed rolls from the fridge and let rise in a warm place until about doubled in size, about an hour. Then bake as directed. They should last about 1 month in the freezer this way.
No, but I highly recommend it! It only takes 5 more minutes of your time to brown the butter (plus chilling it back to a solid) and the flavor of brown butter is really unique and so delicious. If you prefer to make a traditional cream cheese frosting for these brioche cinnamon rolls, just use softened butter and combine that with the softened cream cheese before adding the powdered sugar and vanilla.
While it's much easier to use a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can make the dough by hand-just be prepared for a work out! Proceed with the recipe as written using a wooden spoon to stir it and your hands to knead the dough. The kneading times will increase when making it by hand.
Once it's time to add the butter, make sure the butter is very soft. A bench scraper like this one or a dough scraper like this one can come in handy to help incorporate the butter into the dough as it gets really sticky.
How to store the rolls
After baking, you'll want to cool your apple cinnamon rolls some before spreading on the frosting so it doesn't completely melt. If you aren't eating all of these in one sitting, they will keep for multiple days.
Because of the brown butter cream cheese frosting, these should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 6-7 days.
They will start to dry out toward the end of this time frame but I found that placing them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds helped a lot!
You can also freeze the rolls individually by wrapping them in plastic wrap and foil or wrapping the pan in plastic wrap and foil before freezing. You'll want to thaw those in the refrigerator overnight and then heat them up in the microwave before eating.
For more brioche recipes, check out:
- Blueberry Cream Cheese Babka
- Strawberry Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Raspberry Almond Babka
- Pumpkin Nutella Babka
Tag me on Instagram @themarblekitchenblog if you make this and leave a star rating and comment below! Thank you and enjoy!
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 cups (500 grams) All-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pkg active dry yeast about 2 ¼ teaspoon
- 1 cup milk warmed to about 100-110 degrees
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 tablespoon unsalted butter very soft and cubed
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whisk together flour, ⅓ cup of sugar and salt in a bowl. Warm milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds or until a thermometer reads 100 to 110 degrees. Add the milk and 1 teaspoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.
- Add eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until combined and then increase speed to medium low and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Add the softened butter by the tablespoon, letting each cube incorporate fully before adding the next. Mix on medium low about 4-5 minutes more until the dough is smooth and shiny but still sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
- Transfer the dough to another bowl coated with cooking spray and it let rise in a warm place, covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the dough is about doubled. Punch down the dough and scrape out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll the dough out to a 12 x 21 inch rectangle. Spread with the cinnamon butter paste, leaving about a ½ border on one long end.
- Start rolling the dough on the long end without the border into a log. Press on the seam to seal the dough. Trim the 2 ends about ½ inch for even rolls.
- Using a knife or unflavored dental floss, cut the log into 12 rolls. Place the rolls into a 9 x 13 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise again for another 45 minutes to an hour or until they are puffy and begin to touch in the pan.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.
- In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir until the ingredients form a paste. Set aside.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat until it turns a golden-brown color and has a nutty smell, about 5-7 minutes. It will foam up during this time so keep stirring and checking the color under the foam. Once it starts to turn color, don't walk away as it can burn quickly.
- Remove from the heat, place in small bowl and allow it to come back to a solid in the refrigerator, about 1 hour.
- Combine the refrigerated brown butter (scape the bowl to get all the brown bits out), and the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat with a stand mixer or electric mixer until creamy.
- Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar and slowly mix it until fully incorporated. If you would like a thicker frosting, add the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar and mix well.
- Frost the cinnamon rolls once they’ve cooled slightly if you want the frosting to stay intact or when warm if you want melted frosting.
- See the post for detailed instructions on making overnight cinnamon rolls.
- The cinnamon rolls should be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to a week. Warm them for about 20 seconds in the microwave before serving.