These Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls combine the pillowy softness of cinnamon rolls with the warm spiced flavors of carrot cake, and the result is the most perfect spring pastry.
Prep Time 2hours
Cook Time 20minutes
Total Time 2hours20minutes
Author Katiebird Bakes
For the Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls:
2cupsmilk(I used whole milk, but full fat coconut milk works too)
1/2cupcanola oil(or another neutral oil)
1packet active dry yeast(2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2cupsfinely grated carrots(from about 3 medium carrots - I use my food processor to grate them)
4 1/2cupsall-purpose flour, divided(see below)
For the Filling:
1/2cupunsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1cupbrown sugar, not packed
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
4ouncescream cheese(room temperature)
4tablespoonsunsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1cuppowdered (confectioner's) sugar
1teaspoonvanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt
1/4cupmilk of choice(or more if necessary)
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
Combine the milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot (I used a ) and place over medium heat until just before boiling. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool until just warm to the touch, about 105-110 degrees F. This is called scalding the milk and we do this to denature the whey proteins and allow for better gluten development. Can you skip it and just use warm milk? Yes, but your dough may be stickier and you'll have to chill it before rolling.
Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the milk mixture and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Add the vanilla, grated carrot, spices, and 4 cups of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until an evenly combined dough has formed.
Cover and let sit on the stove (with the oven on if your kitchen is cold) to rise for about 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes to make sure it is rising. By the end of the hour, it should have doubled in size and smell yeasty.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir until completely combined. It should be a well-formed, stiff, non-sticky dough. If your dough seems too sticky to roll out, see the recipe notes below.
Divide the dough in half and roll one half out on a floured surface to about a 12x8 inch rectangle. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and spices.
Spread half the melted butter evenly over the dough (you may not need it all), then sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over top.
Starting with the long edge farthest from you, roll the dough towards you, moving your fingers evenly back and forth along the dough, until it is tightly coiled with seam down. Cut into 8 even rolls with a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss, and place in a greased pie plate or 9-inch round cake pan.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the second half of the dough.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While it is preheating, let the rolls rest on top of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until slightly risen. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. Make the cream cheese icing while the rolls are baking.
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
Whisk together cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until completely combined and smooth. Add vanilla and salt and whisk again. Whisk in powdered sugar until fully blended. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches a pourable, but still thick, consistency.
Pour and spread the icing evenly over the warm cinnamon rolls in the pan, making sure the tops of the rolls are completely covered. Serve warm with coffee and watch people's eyes light up with unadulterated joy!
Store any leftovers (not likely) in the fridge for up to 5 days, and simply microwave for 20-30 seconds to reheat.IF YOUR DOUGH IS STICKY: put it in the fridge for at least an hour, up to overnight before rolling it out. Make sure the surface you roll it on is WELL floured, and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough before rolling. Add flour to your rolling pin if it starts sticking to the dough.Make ahead overnight instructions: these carrot cake cinnamon rolls can be prepared the night before through step 6 (shaping the rolls and placing in the pans). Cover pans with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, set pans out on the counter while the oven is preheating to allow rolls to come to room temperature, then bake as directed.Freeze the baked rolls: baked and iced rolls can be frozen, wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag, for up to 3 months. Simply microwave for 30 seconds or warm in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes to reheat. Freeze the dough: Shaped cinnamon roll dough can be frozen, well-wrapped in the pan or another container, for up to 3 months. Set out on counter for 2 hours before baking to allow to come to room temperature and complete their second rise. Bake as directed.If you like, top with some toasted coconut - you can do this by toasting shredded unsweetened coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes, until browned.Recipe adapted from my Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.
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