Soft & Fluffy Coffee Cake Cinnamon Rolls

 In an attempt to combine two of my most favorite desserts, we’ve arrived at the most heavenly, gooey, and tasty destination. Presenting: Coffee Cake Cinnamon Rolls. They’re loaded with the iconic coffee cake streusel, lots of cinnamon and sugar, and a pillowy soft cinnamon roll to lock it all in.

Cinnamon rolls are not an every weekend treat, as I would eat the entire pan immediately. However, I love making cinnamon rolls for special occasions like birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I started a tradition several years ago of making cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning each year. I prep the dough on Christmas Eve, throw them in the fridge overnight, allow the rolls to proof and warm up at room temperature while we open gifts, and then bake! The perfect Christmas morning tradition, and it makes your house smell incredible.

Growing up, on Christmas morning, we would never have a huge breakfast. We would get up early, thanks to my brother, and open gifts first. We might would have pancakes, sausage balls, and some juice. As I've gotten older, I've wanted more of an elaborate breakfast to celebrate on Christmas morning. So, we're working towards that. And, making these cinnamon rolls ahead of time helps to have breakfast ready at a reasonable time. No hangry humans here.

Are These Really THAT Good?

I know the instructions and ingredients list seem a mile long, but they are relatively traditional ingredients that you probably have on hand. And, the instructions seem super long, but when broken down into steps, it is very simple with a lot of of hands-off time.

We start out with one of the best cinnamon roll bases out there. They're soft, tender, pillowy, and melt in your mouth. The filling is fantastic, and there's the perfect amount of it. Plus, the added streusel in the middle brings the perfect, spiced sweetness to finish off the perfect roll. And, things only get better when each roll is adorned with a delicious cream cheese frosting. Coffee cake often has a glaze, and every aspect of these cinnamon rolls is a perfect nod to all things coffee cake and cinnamon roll.

Do These Cinnamon Rolls Really Taste Like Coffee Cake?

Funny enough, I handed a cinnamon roll to my husband when they're fresh out of the oven. He dove in, as he always does, and without knowing that he was eating anything other than a regular cinnamon roll, he said, "man, this tastes a lot like coffee cake." I kid you not. I sat there and just laughed. I asked if he had read the recipe and my notes on the kitchen counter, but he hadn't. They just tasted so much like coffee cake to him, even without knowing. That makes me a happy wife and baker. Wooohoooo!

So, yes. They do taste as if coffee cake and cinnamon rolls had a baby. A tasty, gooey, and sweet mashup of two of the most delicious breakfast-ish / dessert-ish baked goods.

What Makes these "Coffee Cake" Cinnamon Rolls?

In my opinion, coffee cake isn't coffee cake without streusel. So, when I was dreaming about how I might pull this mash-up off, I knew that there had to be plenty of streusel. I also wanted the texture of the cinnamon roll to stand out - so, that's why I made the streusel fairly simple. Nothing crazy, no oats, no nuts - just the basics to make a perfect, buttery streusel.

As for the glaze, not all coffee cakes have glaze, but I do love when it does. I personally don't love when a cinnamon roll has a thin glaze. I'm a cream cheese frosting-type cinnamon roll girl. So, it was a no brainer to do a classic frosting but add a pinch of cinnamon to tie in all the flavors.

Ingredients You'll Need for Homemade Coffee Cake Cinnamon Rolls

- whole milk : almond milk or oat milk also work

- instant yeast

- granulated sugar

- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature

- unsalted butter, melted

- bread flour (or all purpose flour, or 2 cups white spelt flour and 1 cup sprouted spelt flour): but bread flour is best for this recipe because of it's higher protein content. It results in fluffier and softer cinnamon rolls.

- kosher salt

- light brown sugar

- ground cinnamon

- all purpose flour

- ground ginger

- ground cardamom

- cream cheese, softened

- powdered sugar

- vanilla extract

Helpful Tools for Making Cinnamon Rolls

- Stand Mixer with a dough hook

- Large Glass Bowl: for proofing the dough

- Wooden Spoon: for mixing together the dough before kneading it, but I also love using a dough whisk for this too.

- Rolling Pin: French-style rolling pins are my absolute favorite

- Serrated knife or unflavored dental floss

- Hand mixer: I love this one from Kitchen Aid

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Can I Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time?

Yes! I love to make these the day before, refrigerate them overnight, and bake the rolls in the morning.

Whenever I make cinnamon rolls, I typically make them like this. I like doing the prep the day before I want to enjoy them. After placing the rolls in the greased pan, after the first rise, cover them with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, bring the rolls to room temperature first by leaving them on the counter for 30-45 minutes before baking, to rise the second time. Bake the cinnamon rolls as directed. And, just like that - you have the ultimate cinnamon rolls.

Other Recipes to Complete Your Holiday Brunch

I've already written a love story for coffee cake - so, here are two of my favorites:

  • Ham and Cheese Muffins are the best savory baked good. They're packed with protein, flavor, and lots of cheesy goodness.
  • Morning Glory Muffins are another crowd pleaser, and they're loaded with fruits and veggies, along with nuts and dried fruit for a wholesome breakfast.
  • For a quick grab & go breakfast, Blueberry White Chocolate Protein Bites are a fantastic choice.
  • One always needs a warm beverage to enjoy with brunch - so, this Gingerbread Chai is a spectacular choice. It’s comforting, sweet, creamy, and full of gingerbread & chai flavors.
  • Biscotti screams “the holidays” to me, and making homemade biscotti really is simple. Plus, it’s definitely suitable for breakfast, right?
  • If you’re wanting a chocolate version of biscotti - I have just the recipe for you. It’s packed with double chocolate goodness and tastes almost like a crisp brownie.


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