Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 15 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 12 Cinnamon Rolls
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For the Dough:

1/2 cup water

1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/3 cup nonfat milk powder, sifted if needed

1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons red gel food coloring

For the Filling:

1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the baking dish

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the baking dish

For the Icing:

2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the dough: Heat the water to 100 degrees F in a bowl in the microwave. (It should feel warm but not too hot.) Sprinkle the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar over the top and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, milk powder, cocoa powder, salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, egg yolks and red gel food coloring into the yeast mixture, then pour into the well and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a shaggy ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface, dust with more flour and knead, adding more flour as needed, until smooth but still slightly sticky, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 
  4. Make the filling: Mix the granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Turn out the dough onto a generously floured surface, pat and roll out into a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on one long side. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and lightly press into the butter. Brush the clean edge with water, then tightly roll up the dough into a log, starting with a long side and rolling toward the clean edge; pinch the seam to seal.
  5. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and lightly sprinkle with granulated sugar. Slice the dough log into 12 pieces and arrange cut-side up in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour, or you can refrigerate overnight, then in the morning let stand at room temperature 2 hours before baking.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes in the baking dish. 
  7. Meanwhile, make the icing: Beat the cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners? sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. Spread a thin layer on the warm cinnamon rolls; serve with the remaining icing.