Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Reasons to love these Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

  • Soft and fluffy bread texture
  • Crunchy pecan swirls throughout
  • Gooey caramelised cinnamon sugar filling
  • Topped with maple cream cheese frosting
  • Made using fast action yeast so they’re quicker to make
  • Require a little patience but aren’t complicated
Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

What ingredients are used to make the cinnamon roll dough?

Cinnamon rolls aren’t made with any complicated ingredients, in fact, it’s likely you’ll have most of the ingredients in your cupboard already. Here are the ingredients you will need to make the dough:

  • Strong white bread flour: bread flour is the secret to a fluffy and soft texture.
  • Time Saver Instant Yeast: I love using this type of yeast because it significantly reduces the proving time. I’d recommend Allinson’s Time Saver Yeast packets.
  • Milk: Use full-fat whole milk (blue top if you live in the UK). The milk is heated to 40°C to activate the yeast.
  • Granulated sugar: sugar helps activate the yeast and add a little sweetness.
  • Eggs: 1 whole egg plus an extra egg yolk adds richeness.
  • Unsalted butter: melted butter is added to the dough, giving it it’s signature buttery flavour.
  • Salt: a little salt helps to balance the sweetness from the filling and frosting.
Pecan Cinnamon filling

What equipment do I need?

I used to be put off from making cinnamon rolls because I always assumed you needed fancy equipment and tools. Yes, an electric mixer with a dough hook will help, but it’s not essential. You can bake these pecan cinnamon rolls using these basic tools: 

  • Mixing bowl: used to mix the dough ingredients and for the first prove.
  • Wooden spoon: used to roughly bring the dough together. 
  • Electric mixer with a dough hook OR your hands: used to knead the dough and activate the yeast. The dough will take 8 minutes using a dough hook, or 12 minutes using your hands.
  • Rolling pin: used to roll out the dough.
  • Measuring tape: helpful when rolling out the dough but not essential.
  • Sharp knife: used to slice the rolled dough into cinnamon rolls. 
  • Large baking/roasting tin: used to bake the cinnamon rolls.
  • Greaseproof paper: used to line the baking tin and prevent the cinnamon rolls from sticking to the sides.
  • Not essential but a thermometer is also useful for testing the temperature of the milk.
Cutting the cinnamon rolls

What type of yeast should I use?

There are four types of yeast: Active Dry Yeast, Fresh Yeast, Instant Yeast and Rapid Dry Yeast. If you’re an experienced bread baker you will most likely have your preference, but if you’re a bread newbie like me, I would 100% recommend using Allinson’s Time Saver Instant Yeast for these Pecan Cinnamon Rolls. Here’s why:

  • Pre-measured into easy to use packets
  • There’s no ‘prooving’ required, so you don’t need to wait for it to bubble up
  • Reduces the proving time by 30-60 minutes in total
Cinnamon roll dough

What does ‘prove’ mean?

This is where the dough is left in a warm place to rest and rise before shaping and then again before baking. During this rest period, yeast ferments the dough and produces gases, causing the dough to rise. 

How many times do I need to prove the dough?

For this pecan cinnamon roll there are two proving stages:

  • First prove: this takes place before the dough is rolled out and shaped into rolls.
  • Second prove: this takes place once the dough is shaped into rolls and before they’re put in the oven.

Below you can see the size difference the second prove made to the shaped cinnamon rolls.

Why didn’t my dough rise?

There are a number of reasons why this could have happened:

  • Check the sell by date on the yeast packet. Allinson’s Time Saver Yeast tends to have a longer shelf life than fresh active yeasts, but it could be the case that if the yeast is too old it won’t work its rising magic. 
  • The milk was too hot or too cold. I know, tricky right! Too hot and the milk will kill the yeast, too cold and it won’t have the heat it needs to bloom. Next time, use a thermometer to make sure the milk temperature is exactly 40°C/110°F.
  • Your mixing bowl was too small. The dough needs plenty of space and room to grow. If the mixing bowl is too small it will tear the dough and stop it from rising. 
  • The dough didn’t rise in a warm place. Yeast loves to be warm and cosy, so avoid placing it in a cold spot or where there could be a cold draft coming through. You need to let the dough in the warmest part of your home. This could be in the bathroom, by the radiator, next to your computer, or in a proving drawer if you’re lucky enough to have one! Find the perfect place and call it your proving spot for here on out
Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

How to freeze pecan cinnamon rolls

Want to save some for later? Or, worried you won’t be able to resist eating them all!? Here are two freezing options:

  1. Freeze before baking: after the first prove, roll the dough up with the filling and slice the cinnamon rolls. Then either wrap individually in clingfilm or place in a baking tin and cover with clingfilm, then place in the freezer. When you’re ready to bake, let the dough defrost in the fridge, then continue with the normal process… second prove, bake and frost! 
  2. Freeze after baking either plain or frosted: first let the pecan cinnamon rolls cool to room temp. Then wrap individually with clingfilm or cover the baking tin, and place in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat them, defrost in the fridge, then bake at 170°C (fan oven) for 10 minutes so they’re fresh and warm. 

6 tips for making pecan cinnamon rolls

  1. Be careful not to overheat the milk. Yeast is very particular when it comes to temperature. It’s a living thing and is killed off at temperatures higher than 60°C/140°F. The ideal temperature for your milk is 40°C/110°F. The best way to test the temperature is to use a thermometer like this one. You can pick one up for a couple of pounds and will be surprised how often you will end up using it for things like caramel, jam and bread. Alternatively, test the temperature by dipping your finger into the milk, it should feel like warm bath water and shouldn’t be too hot to touch. 
  2. If the dough is sticky, add 1 tbsp more flour. The dough should be smooth and springy to the touch. If it feels wet and is sticking to your mixing bowl of hands, add 1 tbsp more flour to bring it together. 
  3. Yeast loves to be warm. Help to dough rise by laying a warm tea-towel over the mixing bowl and then place it in the warmest space in your home. I leave the dough to prove on a shelf above a radiator in my home. 
  4. Take before and after photos during the proving process. You want to dough to double in size during the proving process, so taking a photo before you leave the dough to prove, and then an after photo once the proving time is up, will help you judge the difference in the size. I love sharing the before and after snaps on my Stories too, it’s so satisfying seeing the difference.
  5. Rub the butter and cinnamon sugar into the dough. This may be a little messy but it’s important to make sure the filling is worked into the dough and is well combined. Not only will this improve the appearance of the cinnamon rolls, but also the flavour will be more buttery and the texture more soft. 
  6. Roll the dough really tight. This will make sure the cinnamon rolls hold their shape and have that signature swirl when you slice them. 

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft and fluffy Pecan Cinnamon Rolls topped with maple cream cheese frosting. Warming flavours and a buttery texture, these cinnamon rolls are simply irresistible!
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Proving Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine Baking
Servings 8 Rolls

Ingredients
  

For the dough

  • 180 ml Full-fat milk
  • 1 packet Allinson's Time Saver Yeast
  • 50 g Granulated sugar
  • 1 medium Egg at room temperature
  • 1 medium Egg yolk at room temperature
  • 60 g Unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 460 g Strong white bread flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp Salt

For the cinnamon sugar filling

  • 60 g Unsalted butter soft at room temperature
  • 130 g Light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 large Orange Zest only
  • 100 g Pecans roughly chopped

For the maple cream cheese frosting

  • 100 g Unsalted butter soft, at room temperature
  • 200 g Icing sugar
  • 100 g Full-fat cream cheese cold from the fridge
  • 3 tsp Maple syrup
  • 3 tsp Fresh orange juice use the same orange that was zested for the filling

Instructions
 

Start by getting everything prepped

  • Place a tea towel on a radiator to warm up ready for the proving stage.
  • Gather all your ingredients and prep them accordingly e.g. melt the butter for the dough, chop the pecans for the filling etc.
  • Line a large baking tin with greaseproof paper. Depending on the shape and size of your baking tin, you should be able to fit 8-10 cinnamon rolls inside. The baking tin I used was a white ceramic roasting tin that is 12×8 inches in size.

Now make the dough

  • Measure the milk into a jug or bowl and microwave for roughly 40-60 seconds. The milk needs to be 40°C/110°F to properly activate the yeast. No thermometer? No problem. Test the temperature by dipping your finger into the milk, it should feel like warm bathwater.
  • Pour the warm milk into a large bowl of an electric mixer. Haven't got an electric mixer? Just use a normal large mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and let it rest for 1 minute.
  • Add the melted butter, sugar, whole egg and egg yolk. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together.
  • Now add the white bread flour and salt. Use your wooden spoon to work the mixture into a rough dough.
  • Attach a dough hook and your mixing bowl to your electric mixer. Turn the speed up to medium and knead the dough for 8 minutes. No electric mixer? Just tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes instead. The dough should be smooth and springy to the touch.
  • Lift the dough out and lightly brush the inside of the bowl with oil. Place back inside and cover with clingfilm and a warm towel.
  • Place the bowl in a warm part of your home (I put mine next to a radiator) and leave to prove for roughly 45-60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out

  • Once the dough has doubled in size, it's time to roll it out.
  • Lightly flour a worktop and rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a 14×9 inch rectangle.

Add the filling

  • Use your hands to rub the softened butter into the dough, leaving a 1 cm margin around the edge of the dough.
  • Stir the light brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest together in a bowl. Scatter it on top and again use your hands to rub it into the dough.
  • Scatter over the chopped pecans and lightly press them into the dough.

Roll the dough up

  • Starting from the 9inch edge, tightly roll up the dough into a log shape.
  • Use your hands to squish the sides together so the roll is compact.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut off roughly 1-inch of excess dough from each end. The ends tend not to have as much filling or be as neat.
  • Now cut the roll into 1-inch sections, you should get between 8-10 cinnamon rolls in total.
  • Place the cinnamon rolls in your lined baking tin. Depending on the shape and size of your baking tin, you should be able to fit 8-10 cinnamon rolls inside*. Remember they will need space to rise during the second proving stage.
  • Cover the baking tin with cling film and a warm towel, and leave to prove for another 30 minutes. They should double in size again.
  • Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 170°C/350°F (fan assisted).

Bake the cinnamon rolls

  • Bake in the centre of your oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown around the edges. It's best to underbake cinnamon rolls so they're still soft and fluffy inside. Remove and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Final step… the cream cheese frosting!

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, pale in colour and lump-free.
  • Sift in the icing sugar, add the maple syrup and orange juice. Beat until smooth and combined.
  • Mix in the cream cheese until the frosting is smooth.
  • Spread the frosting over the cinnamon rolls and tuck in straight away**. Enjoy!

Notes

*Leftover cinnamon rolls? Check out the ‘How to freeze cinnamon rolls’ section in the main blog post.
**Cinnamon rolls are best when they’re fresh and warm from the oven. If you have leftovers you can freeze them (see notes in the main blog post) or store them in the fridge for up to 2 days. 
Keyword Bread flour, Butter, Caster sugar, Chocolate orange, Cinnamon rolls, Eggs, Maple syrup, Pecans

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Delaney
Delaney
15 days ago

These look delicious! How do you recommend going about proving them overnight in the fridge?