Want the softest, fluffiest overnight cinnamon rolls? These brioche cinnamon rolls are for you! They take a little pre-planning and an overnight proof, but they're so worth it. Filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans and topped with a quick cream cheese glaze. These brioche cinnamon buns are what brunch dreams are made of!
Just like other cinnamon rolls, these sticky sweet buns can be divided into two main parts - the dough and the filling.
For the Brioche Cinnamon Bun Dough
To make the brioche dough, you'll need:
- Flour - I recommend using a mixture of all purpose flour and bread flour for this recipe. You can use only all purpose flour, but you may find that it takes longer to knead as the gluten will not be as strong.
- Yeast - brioche dough is a yeasted dough. You'll need dry active yeast for this recipe. It is almost always possible to substitute with fresh yeast, but I have not tested this recipe using a fresh yeast substitute.
- Milk - you want full fat, or whole milk for this recipe, warmed to a temperature of about 104°F/40C. The temperature and fat of the milk is particularly important in this recipe in order to activate the yeast and make a rich dough.
- Sugar - superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar will work in this recipe. The measurement is divided as you'll want to add a little sugar to your warm milk to help ensure your yeast is well enlivened.
- Eggs - in baking, and especially for enriched breads, it is best for the eggs to be at room temperature so that they incorporate more easily. For this recipe, you'll want 2 whole eggs and then one egg divided into yolk and white. The white will be added to the dough while the yolk is used for the egg wash when baking.
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature. This will be added to your dough about a tablespoon at a time to give the classic buttery soft texture of brioche dough.
For the Filling
The filling for this recipe is four simple ingredients:
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature to a spreadable consistency. You can use salted butter here, but it will add a salty flavour to the bake.
- Brown sugar - the key to a really good cinnamon roll is always brown sugar! I like to use light brown sugar (sometimes called muscovado). The measurements are always based on the sugar being firmly packed.
- Cinnamon - plenty of ground cinnamon!
- Pecans - shelled and roughly chopped. The pecans here are optional and you can certainly leave them out if preferred, with no impact on the process for making these buns.
How to Make Brioche Dough for Cinnamon Rolls
The process for making the dough for these rolls follows similar steps to my mini brioche bun recipe.
1. Activating Yeast
Begin by heating your milk to the desired temperature. This can be done in the microwave or on the stovetop in a small pan. Having lukewarm, but not steaming hot milk is important to provide the yeast with a good activation. The ideal temperature is around 104°F/40C, but temperatures up to about 115°F/45C are also fine. I heat my milk until simmering and allow to cool for a few minutes before adding yeast.
Once the milk is warmed to a good temperature, add a teaspoon of sugar and your yeast. Stir and set aside for ten minutes to allow the yeast to become frothy.
2. Base Dough
Place the flours, remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Give this a stir.
Once the yeast is ready, add this to the flour mixture, immediately followed by two whole eggs and one egg white. Reserve the remaining egg yolk to create an egg wash later. This should be placed in a small bowl, covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use (as you won't be making the egg wash for several hours at this point!).
Turn the mixer on a low speed and knead until a dough forms and is pulling itself away from the sides of the bowl. This takes about 15 minutes.
3. Adding Butter
When you have your base dough, you can start adding the butter to enrich this for the traditional brioche. This should be added in small bits slowly to incorporate well into the dough. I add about a tablespoon at a time, cut into roughly .5" cubes.
Once all the butter has been added, continue to knead on a low setting until the dough is again pulling itself off the sides of the bowl. This will take about 15 minutes.
The dough with the added butter will be very soft.
4. First Proof (Or Overnight Proof)
The first proof is also the long proof, which can be done overnight in a refrigerator. You'll want to grease a large bowl with butter (you can use oil, but I like to use butter for consistency with the butter in the brioche dough).
Scrape the dough out of your mixing bowl and into your greased bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 8 hours (or overnight) to slowly proof. This allows for the enriched dough to develop. It should double in size.
Filling the Rolls
After the first proof, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and dust a clean work surface with flour.
Start by turning the dough out onto your floured surface and gently pressing into a square. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large square, roughly 12" by 12" and about ¼" thick.
Dot small blobs of softened butter over the surface and then spread out using a spatula or butter knife.
In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle this mixture over the surface of the buttered dough. It should provide a generous coating.
Roll the dough into a log. As it is a square you can start from any side, but I recommend rolling from the bottom, moving upwards, to keep good and even control. The tighter you're able to roll, the more rings of cinnamon mixture each bun will have.
Cutting Cinnamon Rolls and Second Proof
Now that you have your brioche cinnamon roll log, you need to cut this into your nine buns. This can be achieved with a sharp knife or dough scraper, or with dental floss.
First cut off about an inch or an inch and a half from both ends. This removes the uneven ends where there will be less filling.
Then cut 9 buns, each about 1" wide. Place these into your lined baking tray in three rows of three.
Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and allow to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
Once doubled, whisk together your reserved egg yolk and a tablespoon of milk. Brush this over the rolls and bake in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden.
Glaze for Cinnamon Rolls
You can glaze cinnamon rolls with all sorts! One of my favourites is a quick cream cheese glaze.
To make my cream cheese glaze, you'll need:
- Powdered sugar - also known as icing sugar or confectioners sugar.
- Cream cheese - spreadable cream cheese works best in this recipe. You can use block cream cheese, but will need to let this soften and may find it stiffer to whisk into the mixture.
- Vanilla extract - you can also use vanilla bean paste here.
- Milk - I recommend using full fat or whole milk. You can use 2% or semi-skimmed milk here. All milk should be added slowly as the glaze can quickly become too runny.
Simply mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, cream cheese and half of the milk. Add the remaining milk slowly - you may find that you need less or more depending on your desired consistency.
The glaze should be more runny than a buttercream, but you do want it to stick to the tops of the buns and don't want it to run off completely!
Top Tips and Tricks
- If the yeast does not develop a foamy top after 10 minutes in the warm milk, then the yeast has not activated fully. This may be the result of expired yeast, overly hot milk or too cold milk. If you suspect the milk of being a bit too cool, you may find that the yeast will still work in your recipe, but it is usually advisable to start over at this stage to be sure you have a good active yeast from the start. If the milk was too hot, then this may have killed the yeast and this will not help the dough to rise properly.
- Refrigerator proofed doughs often feel more dense after their slow proof. Don't be alarmed, this is normal! In fact, this often makes them easier to handle and roll out for baking like cinnamon rolls.
- Using floss to cut cinnamon rolls is a great way to ensure more even rounds. This is because the floss goes around the dough and cuts through from all angles simultaneously providing even pressure. This avoids the misshaping that can occur when using a knife and cutting down onto a counter, thus creating a flat point of pressure.
- These are easy overnight brioche cinnamon rolls - the overnight proof allows you to get started the night before and have these ready in time for brunch. To get a proper head start, do all of your prep the night before - mix your sugar, cinnamon and pecans; line your pan and make sure you have the counter ready for rolling. This will speed up the morning.
Yes! Using brioche bread dough for cinnamon rolls will make some of the best and softest ever cinnamon rolls you'll try!
Brioche is a buttery enriched dough, perfect for these buns. Follow my recipe for an easy brioche cinnamon roll with added pecans and topped with cream cheese glaze.
These buttery brioche cinnamon rolls are best served fresh. Leftovers can be kept for a day or two in an airtight container, but as with any cinnamon roll, they're meant to be enjoyed fresh from the oven.
Yes, these buns can be made without a stand mixer. In general, the kneading process will take longer and may be more messy without the stand mixer.
Looking for more cinnamon rolls? Try one of these:
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk, plus a tablespoon for egg wash
- 2½ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ¾ cup strong white bread flour
- 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
Ingredients for Filling
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar muscovado, firmly packed
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4 oz shelled pecans roughly chopped
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
- 2 oz spreadable cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon full fat milk or whole milk
- Begin by heating your full fat milk to 104°F/40C (see note).
- When your milk is at the desired temperature, add your yeast and 1 teaspoon of your sugar. Stir together lightly and set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy (see note).
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, add your flour, bread flour, salt and remaining sugar. Stir together.
- Once the yeast is frothy, add this to the flour mixture, immediately followed by two eggs and one egg white. Reserve the egg yolk in a small bowl for later (see note). Begin mixing on a low speed until a dough forms and continue until it begins to pull itself away from the sides of the bowl (about 15 minutes).
- After 15 minutes, begin adding the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated into the dough.
- Once all the butter is added, continue mixing on a low-medium speed for a further 12-15 minutes until the dough again pulls itself from the sides. It will be a softer dough now that the butter is added.
- While the dough is being kneaded, grease a clean bowl with butter.
- Scrape the dough into the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to slow proof for about 8 hours (or overnight) until doubled in size.
- Following the first proof, prepare a clean work surface by dusting with flour. Turn the dough out and knock it back. Gently pat this into a square and use a rolling pin to roll out into a 12" x 12" square.
- Dot softened butter over the surface of the dough square and spread to cover.
- Stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Sprinkle this over the butter and then tightly roll the dough into a log.
- Use either a sharp knife or some flavourless dental floss to cut the log. First trim about an inch or two off each end to remove uneven bits. Then divide the dough into 9.
- Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and place the 9 cinnamon rolls inside. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to proof for a second time - this time for 2 hours at room temperature.
- When the 2 hours is nearly up, preheat your oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan).
- Add a tablespoon of milk to the reserved egg yolk and beat with a fork to combine. Brush this over the top of your cinnamon rolls.
- Place the baking pan in the middle of your pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, while you prepare the icing.
- To make the frosting, whisk together the powdered sugar, spreadable cream cheese and vanilla. Slowly add the milk about a teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
- Spread the frosting over the buns and serve.