Are you a coffee lover? If you can't get enough, these espresso coffee cinnamon rolls are for you - loaded with espresso powder for a coffee punch! With a coffee frosting that is lusciously creamy, smooth and thick, you'll want a cup of it on its own!
Why You'll Love Them
- Packs a caffeinated punch - these espresso rolls are absolutely full of coffee! The dough is a quick coffee brioche, the filling is cinnamon sugar espresso and the frosting is just one more layer of coffee goodness.
- My classic super soft dough - brioche makes the best cinnamon rolls! There, I said it! They may take a little prep, but it's totally worth it for buttery soft rolls that will melt in your mouth.
- Espresso powder - with all this coffee, you don't actually need to make a pot for this recipe! All you need is espresso powder or instant espresso. This easy ingredient will load the recipe with all the concentrated coffee flavour you need without adding extra liquid.
Ingredient Notes for the Dough
This dough is essentially a coffee infused variation of my standard brioche dough. If you've made some of my other rolls, such as my classic Brioche Cinnamon Rolls or my Peach Cinnamon Rolls, you'll be well-familiar with the ingredients and process.
For this recipe, you'll need:
- Milk - full fat milk (or whole milk) is essential for the best quality enriched dough. This needs to be warmed to 104°F or 40C in order to activate the yeast.
- Dry active yeast - just like other breads, you can usually substitute with other types of yeast, including fresh yeast. This recipe has not yet been tested with these substitutions and I prefer to work with dried active yeast.
- Sugar - a little sugar in the warmed milk will go a long way for helping to liven up your yeast! Plus a bit for the dough. I use granulated sugar or caster sugar in this recipe.
- Flour - a combination of all purpose (or plain) flour and bread flour gives these rolls the ultimate soft and fluffy texture.
- Eggs - large eggs at room temperature work best here. One egg is divided into white and yolk. The white added to the dough and the yolk reserved for an egg wash when baking.
- Butter - unsalted butter works best here. You can use salted, but it will add extra saltiness to the overall dough recipe. The butter should be softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces to be added easily to your dough.
- Espresso powder - this is a finely ground concentrated espresso coffee powder, not just coffee granules. The powder dissolves into liquids and is synonymous with instant espresso coffee.
How to Make Coffee Brioche
The process for this dough is fundamentally the same as my other brioche rolls.
- Start by sprinkling the yeast and some sugar over the warm milk. Give this a stir and set it aside for about 10 minutes for the yeast to become foamy.
- Meanwhile, add your flours, remaining sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Give this a quick stir.
- Once the yeast is ready, add this to the flour mixture, immediately followed by your eggs (two whole eggs and one egg white, reserve the remaining egg yolk for an egg wash when you bake).
- Turn the mixer on to a low setting and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough comes together and is starting to pull itself from the sides of the bowl.
- After 15 minutes, add the butter slowly (a couple pieces at a time), continuing to knead. Once this is incorporated, add the espresso powder and keep kneading for about 12-15 minutes until you again have a dough that is starting to pull itself from the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape this into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a slow overnight proof (about 8 hours, until doubled in size).
Ingredient Notes for Filling
This is a classic cinnamon roll filling with the twist of some espresso powder! You'll need:
- Butter - unsalted butter softened at room temperature to an easily spreadable consistency. You can use salted butter, but as with the dough, it will add saltiness to the overall bake.
- Brown sugar - firmly packed measurements. Brown sugar will add a richness and depth to the filling, which pairs nicely with the coffee flavours.
- Cinnamon - a healthy dose of ground cinnamon. You can't have cinnamon rolls without it!
- Espresso powder - more of your finely ground espresso powder or instant espresso.
- Nutmeg - a touch of ground nutmeg gives a nice light accent to these rolls and works well with espresso. This is technically optional here though, so don't worry if you've not got nutmeg on hand!
How to Make Coffee Cinnamon Rolls
Once you're dough is finished with it's first proof, it's time to roll it out on a floured work surface to about a 12" by 15" rectangle. Now its time for assembly.
So, there are a couple of ways you could assemble your cinnamon rolls.
- Sprinkling method: where you spread your softened butter over the rolled out dough and then sprinkle over your sugar, cinnamon, espresso powder and nutmeg.
- Flavoured butter method: where you mix all of your filling ingredients together to create a flavoured butter paste. This can then be spread over the surface of your dough.
Either way these rolls will be a delicious success! The flavoured butter option is generally easier, even though it takes a little extra work at the start mixing the ingredients together. This method also ensures a more even spread of your flavours and spices across the dough.
Once filled, roll the dough tightly from the bottom to the top forming a log. Using a thin kitchen twine or flavorless dental floss trim the ends of the log to remove uneven and unfilled dough. Slice the remaining log into 9 pieces and place in a parchment lined square baking pan to proof for about 2 hours at room temperature (until doubles in size).
After the second proof (image 1 below), preheat the oven and prepare an egg wash using the reserve egg yolk and a splash of milk. Brush this over the top of the rolls and bake for about 25 minutes until risen and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare your frosting (image 2 below).
Coffee Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
This easy espresso flavoured cinnamon roll frosting is a great accompaniment to your coffee rolls. You'll need just four ingredients:
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar. This doesn't normally need to be sifted for this recipe but you may wish to sift if yours has any particularly firm lumps.
- Espresso powder - another hit of your new favorite flavouring! This finely ground intensely concentrated coffee will pack a load of flavour into your frosting.
- Vanilla extract - vanilla will amplify the espresso and really enhance your frosting.
- Heavy cream - or double cream. This makes for super thick and creamy frosting, which will melt over your warm rolls.
Making the Frosting
To make this espresso coffee frosting, all you'll need to do is stir the ingredients together until thick and smooth! It can't get much easier!
If you want to adjust the consistency, add extra cream (a little bit at a time) to make it a loser/runnier frosting, or add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken.
You can also make other adjustments:
- Vanilla extract adds flavour, but also helps to cut the sweetness and enrich the overall icing. You can add a little more to taste, but as usual do so slowly to ensure you don't overdo it!
- Espresso powder packs a punch of coffee for this frosting. The measurements called for You can add more to taste - I'd recommend adding a half teaspoon at a time.
Once the rolls have cooled for about 10 minutes, spread your frosting over top.
If you've made any of my other cinnamon rolls, you're probably familiar with the basics here! But, whether you've had practice or not, we're going to make sure you've got this!
Here are my top tips for these coffee rolls:
- As I usually say, if the yeast doesn't become foamy in the warm milk, it's best to start over. Something has gone wrong - the milk may be too cold or it may be too hot (temperatures over about 120°F can result in killing the yeast) or the yeast might just be expired/dead.
- When kneading your dough, depending on the size of your bowl and mixer, you may find that you need to stop the mixer early on to knock flour into the centre to ensure this in incorporated.
- The espresso powder is added to the dough last. This is because caffeine in coffee can have a negative impact on yeast. Adding it last means that it isn't in immediate direct contact with the yeast and removes the risk of it inhibiting the activation or rise.
- Brioche is a wet dough, so don't worry if it is still a bit sticky after all the kneading!
- Lining your baking pan will make these rolls easier to remove from the pan to serve.
- For the frosting, use a spatula to stir it together - in my experience this will be a lot easier than whisking and you'll still get a smooth icing!
As with any cinnamon roll recipe, there are so many options to make personal variations! This recipe is no different. Some quick and easy alternative options for my Coffee Cinnamon Rolls are:
- Different frosting - the espresso cinnamon roll icing here is thick, creamy and packed with coffee. Personally, I love it (can't you tell?)! But, you can easily opt to use a different icing here. Try a vanilla cream frosting like my Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls (minus the sprinkles). Or maybe a spiced Chai Latte Frosting like I use for my Chai Cinnamon Rolls. You could also opt for a thinner glaze, like the drizzle I use with my Coconut Caramel Cinnamon Rolls.
- Spices - in my filling I use ground cinnamon and a bit of ground nutmeg. If you have a favourite spice that you love to use with your coffee, try it here - ground cardamom is particularly nice! If you want the flavour to come through more, reduce the cinnamon by about half - it won't impact the baking in any way.
- Chocolate brioche - a real twist here can be making the rolls here chocolate based! This is easily done by using the chocolate brioche dough recipe in my Chocolate Cherry Cinnamon Rolls.
- Toppings - you can finish these rolls off with a little something on top for decoration or texture. Personally I really wanted to add some whole coffee beans but didn't have any in my cupboard! Whole plain coffee beans or chocolate covered ones would go great here.
Instant espresso is more finely ground and dissolves into other ingredients more quickly than standard instant coffee. It also has a more heavily concentrated flavour - just like espresso is stronger than the average long coffee drink. For these reasons I would be hesitant to substitute instant coffee in place of the instant espresso. That's not to say it wouldn't work, but I've not tried it personally for this recipe.
My espresso cinnamon rolls are at their best fresh and warm! But, they do keep for a day or two if well wrapped.
If planning to make in advance, it is best to store unfrosted - the cream based frosting should be kept in the refrigerator, however, refrigeration will hasten the staling of the rolls. Without the frosting, you can also reheat the rolls in the oven and then frost fresh!
Yes, these cinnamon and coffee rolls can be frozen once baked. If doing so, I recommend baking as directed, allowing to cool completely, then wrapping and storing in a freezer safe bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I would recommend not frosting the rolls prior to freezing, as the frosting can become a bit runny during the defrosting process and won't keep as well.
Looking for more recipes using coffee? Try:
Coffee Cinnamon Rolls
- 8" square baking tray
- stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
Ingredients for Espresso Brioche Dough
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk, warmed to 104℉ (40C)
- 2¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar divided, 1 teaspoon will be added to the warm milk and remaining added to dry ingredients
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¾ cup bread flour
- 3 large eggs at room temperature, one egg divided into yolk and white
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant espresso
Ingredients for Filling
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant espresso
Ingredients for Coffee Frosting
- 1½ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar, no need to sift unless very lumpy
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoon espresso powder or instant espresso
- 4 tablespoon heavy cream or double cream
Instructions for Espresso Brioche Dough
- Begin by sprinkling your yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar over the warmed milk. Stir this together and set aside for about 10 minutes while the yeast becomes foamy.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the flours, salt and remaining sugar. Give this a quick 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 for an egg wash prior to baking.
- Turn the mixer on to a low setting and knead for 15 minutes until the dough has come together and is beginning to pull itself from the sides of the bowl.
- At this point, with the mixer still running, slowly add the pieces of butter a little at a time. Once the butter is incorporated, add the espresso powder.
- Continue kneading on a low setting for a further 12-15 minutes until the dough has again come together and is pulling itself from the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to proof overnight (for about 8 hours until doubled in size).
Instructions for the Filling
- When your dough is nearly done it's first proof, mix together the butter, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and espresso powder until smooth and spreadable in a flavoured butter paste.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and scrape out onto a floured work surface.
- First press the dough into a rectangle with your hands and then roll out to a larger rectangle (about 12" wide by 15" long).
- Spread the flavoured butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a small gap around the edges.
- Roll the dough up into a log from the bottom to the top.
- Using kitchen twine or flavorless dental floss, trim an inch or so off the ends of the log to remove uneven and unfilled dough. Then divide the remaining log into 9 slices.
- Cut these and place them in a lined square baking tray. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
Instructions for Baking
- Near the end of the second proof, preheat the oven to 350℉ (175C/155C Fan).
- Prepare a quick egg wash using the reserved egg yolk and a splash (about a tablespoon) or milk. Beat this together with a fork and then brush over your rolls.
- Place the rolls in the centre of the oven to bake for about 25 minutes until well risen and golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the frosting.
Instructions for Coffee Frosting
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar with the espresso powder. Add the vanilla and the heavy cream stirring until thick and smooth. (see note)
- Spread the frosting over the warm rolls and serve.
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