Are you a vanilla lover? Then I have a cinnamon roll you MUST try! These are my epic vanilla bean cinnamon rolls. Absolutely jam packed with vanilla in every layer. Soft and fluffy vanilla bean brioche dough, filled with a vanilla cinnamon sugar, and finally topped with a vanilla bean glaze.
Using Vanilla Beans in this Recipe
So, I know vanilla can be expensive - especially good quality vanilla extract and even more so a full vanilla bean pod. But, the vanilla pods are mainly expensive because they are absolutely packed with flavour! You can infuse an entire jar of sugar with an empty vanilla pod, so imagine how powerful a flavour punch you'll get using the vanilla bean!
That said, you can substitute the vanilla bean in this recipe with vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
Ingredient Notes for the Dough
This vanilla brioche dough is essentially the same as my classic Brioche Cinnamon Roll dough, with the key addition of vanilla bean! You'll need:
- Vanilla Bean - one full vanilla bean pod. This will be directly infused into your milk and therefore into the dough.
- Milk - full fat or whole milk, warmed to 104°F/40C. Warming the milk is key to activating the yeast. You'll want to ensure it is warm enough, but also not too hot. Overly hot milk can kill the yeast and be as bad (or in fact worse) than cool milk!
- Dry active yeast
- Sugar - superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar.
- Eggs - large eggs, at room temperature.
- Flour - all purpose flour or plain flour.
- Bread flour - adding strong bread flour to the mixture helps develop the gluten in these rolls.
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature and cut into small chunks. You can use salted butter here, but if doing so, be aware that you are adding extra salt to the overall recipe and it may impact the flavour. You may wish to reduce the additional salt called for by half to compensate for this.
Ingredient Notes for the Filling
The filling is fundamentally four ingredients:
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature. You can use salted butter here, but it will add salt to the overall recipe.
- Sugar - superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar will work best here.
- Ground cinnamon - can't have a cinnamon roll without plenty of ground cinnamon!
- Vanilla bean paste - this will add a good kick of vanilla straight into the filling. You can substitute with vanilla extract, but it won't be quite as strong of a flavor.
How to Make Super Soft Vanilla Brioche Dough
These vanilla bean cinnamon rolls follow a very similar process to my other brioche dough cinnamon rolls. The key difference is the infusion of the vanilla bean into the dough.
Begin by infusing the vanilla bean straight into the milk. Cut your vanilla pod down the centre lengthwise and scrape the vanilla bean out. Add this directly to your milk along with the emptied pod. Warm the milk, either in the microwave or gently in a saucepan, to 104°F/40C. Doing this with the vanilla in it will bring out the strongest possible vanilla flavour.
Once warmed, remove the vanilla pod. Then sprinkle with the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and then leave to sit for about 10 minutes to become foamy.
While your yeast activates, stir together the flours, remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. When ready, add the milk, immediately followed by two whole eggs and one egg white. Knead on a low setting for 15 minutes, until the dough comes together and is starting to pull itself off the sides of the bowl.
While continuing to knead, add the butter, bit by bit, allowing it to incorporate into the dough. Once all the butter is added, knead on a low setting for 15 minutes until the dough is again pulling itself from the sides of the bowl. Tip: as with my other brioche doughs, this is a super soft dough which will stay sticky. It probably won't come clean off the sides of the bowl as you knead, but don't worry! If you knead on a low setting for the full 15 minutes both before and after you add the butter, you should be fine.
Scrape the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 8 hours (or overnight). Tip: I like to grease my bowl with butter, since this is a buttery dough. You can also use flavorless oil such as canola or sunflower.
How to Make the BEST Vanilla Cinnamon Rolls
Either while you're kneading your dough or at some stage during the first proof, you'll want to make your filling. This is really just a quick mashing of butter, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. In a small mixing bowl, cream together the filling ingredients until smooth and combined in a thick spreadable sugar butter paste.
Tip: You don't need to use beaters for this - if your butter is soft enough, you should be able to accomplish this using a spatula by hand, mixing and rubbing the butter together with the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla paste.
When the dough has finished its first proof, turn this out onto a floured work surface and press it into a rectangle. Using a floured rolling pin, roll it to a large rectangle, 12" wide by 15" long. Spread your butter sugar mixing over the surface and then roll tightly up from bottom to top to form a log.
Using a thin kitchen twine or flavorless dental floss, trim the ends to remove uneven and unfilled dough. Then divide into 9 rolls, cutting them with the twine and placing them in a parchment lined square pan. Cover this with a clean kitchen towel and allow to proof for a second time at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Before baking, brush the rolls with a quick egg wash made from the reserved egg yolk and a splash of milk. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes until risen and golden. Then let cool for 10 minutes while you prep your frosting.
Vanilla Bean and Cream Cinnamon Roll Frosting
The perfect vanilla frosting for the perfect vanilla bean cinnamon rolls! This easy vanilla bean cream frosting has three ingredients:
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar. I usually don't sift mine for glazes such as this, but if yours is particularly lumpy, giving it a sift can help avoid any lumps carrying through to the finished product.
- Vanilla bean paste - you can substitute with vanilla extract, but you'll miss out on the speckled appearance of vanilla seeds in the frosting. The flavour of vanilla extract is also slightly less pronounced than the flavour offered by the vanilla bean paste.
- Heavy cream - or double cream. This is the secret to many super thick and melty cinnamon roll glazes. Heavy cream (or sometimes called whipping cream depending on your area) will take a bit more than normal milk to make your frosting come together, but it is worth it for the thick creamy consistency.
Stir these ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until you have a thick and creamy frosting. You can adjust the consistency with added cream or added powdered sugar if you'd like.
Spread over your still warm rolls and serve fresh!
Just like my other cinnamon roll recipes, these are really best eaten fresh baked. Leftovers will keep, if wrapped well, for a couple of days. But, they do stale quickly and will be at their best when still warm.
So, in part, yes! These are an overnight cinnamon roll. The most time consuming part of the process - the kneading - takes place the day before. You can also cream together the filling while you are kneading. This means that the only active work required on the day is the assembly and baking.
No - despite this recipe being titled vanilla bean cinnamon rolls, the use of vanilla beans is technically optional. I do strongly recommend it for the enhanced flavour it adds, but you can substitute with vanilla bean paste or just use vanilla extract to make these still absolutely delicious and loaded with vanilla!
Looking for more Cinnamon Rolls? Try:
- Banoffee Cinnamon Rolls
- Orange Cinnamon Rolls
- Almond Coffee Cake Cinnamon Rolls
- Raspberry and Nutella Cinnamon Rolls
- Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls
- Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls
Vanilla Bean Cinnamon Rolls
- 8" square baking tray
Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Brioche Dough
- 1 vanilla bean pod (see note)
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk
- 2¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¾ cup bread flour or strong white flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature and cut into ½" chunks, plus extra for greasing the bowl
Ingredients for Filling
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ⅓ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Ingredients for Frosting
- 1 cup powdered sugar or icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 6 tablespoon heavy cream or double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- Begin by warming infusing your vanilla into your milk as you warm this to 104°F (40C). Place the milk in a small saucepan. Slice the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape the vanilla seeds out. Add these along with the pod to your milk. Heat this until simmering over a medium-low heat. Once warmed, remove the pod and check that your milk is around 104°F (up to about 118°F is also fine). (see note)
- Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into the warmed vanilla milk, stir and set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add your flour, bread flour, remaining sugar and salt. Give this a stir.
- When the yeast is ready, add this to the flour mixture, immediately followed by two eggs and one egg white, reserving an egg yolk for an egg wash later. Knead on a low setting for 15 minutes until the dough is beginning to pull itself from the sides of the bowl. (see note)
- Add the butter, bit by bit, continuing to knead on a low setting. Once all of the butter in incorporated, continue kneading for a further 15 minutes until the dough is again beginning to pull itself from the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to proof for 8 hours (or overnight).
Instructions for Filling
- To make the filling, cream together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla bean paste with a spatula until soft, smooth and spreadable. Set this aside until ready to use.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and press into a rectangle. Using a floured rolling pin, roll this into a rectangle about 12" wide by 15" long.
- Spread the butter and sugar mixture over the surface and then roll from the bottom to the top to form a log.
- Using thin kitchen twine or flavorless dental floss, trim the ends removing about an inch of uneven dough off each side. Then divide into 9 rolls. Cut these with the twine and place in a parchment lined baking pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and proof at room temperature for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and make an egg wash using the reserved egg yolk and a splash of milk. Beat this together.
- Once finished the second proof, brush your rolls with the egg wash and place in the centre of the preheated oven to bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the frosting.
Instructions for Frosting
- Stir together the powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla bean paste until you have a thick smooth frosting. (see note)
- Spread the frosting over the warm rolls and serve.