Cinnamon Twist Roll
This giant skillet cinnamon roll with cream cheese glaze is an incredibly delicious “twist” on the classic favorite. Slightly crusty on the outside, irresistibly squishy soft and gooey on the inside.
Around these parts, most recipes require at least several trials of obsessive testing to turn it from idea to heavenly goodness worthy of your time, effort and CALORIES.
A fews others take weeks and weeks of fine-tuning and perfecting before its deemed “blog-worthy.” I’m looking at you Tres Leches Cake! And don’t even get me started on Fluffy Vanilla Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting. This one’s been taking years…and still counting.
But then there are those rare magical moments when the baking stars decide to align, and beginner’s luck bestows upon me, that a new recipe comes out absolute perfection from the very first time. Absolutely no tweaking necessary. Only a happy dance?
This…is one of them.
I couldn’t be happier with this heavenly creation, and trust me, I was trying my best to pick a flaw.
Tastes like some of the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had, looks like a giant spiral of cinnamon twist bread.
The very thin layer on top is pleasantly crusty on the outside but slightly softens after adding the tangy cream cheese glaze.
The inside though…ooooohhhh the inside…tastes and feels like the squishy center of a gooey cinnamon roll. Everyone’s favorite part! Cinnamon roll innards for daaaaaaaays.
Feathery, soft and cinnamony, with enough goo to make it melt in your mouth.
Everyone was smitten with this one! And I have the toughest critics.
Initially I was working on developing my idea of a perfect classic cinnamon roll, when I stumbled upon this beautiful idea on Inspired by Charm. Since I wasn’t getting the results I was hoping for with my Cinnabon wannabes, I decided to put it on the back burner and go for a new “twist” instead. And boy am I glad I did so.
I did stray quite a bit from the recipe though, borrowing the idea of the braided bread and skillet baking, yet subbing in my favorite components for the dough and glaze. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the other recipe (I’m sure it’s amazing!), but I just felt more comfortable using recipes that I know I love. I used a tried-and-true sweet dough that I just absolutely adore and never lets me down. It produces soft and tender rolls each and every time. For the filling/coating, I doubled the amount of cinnamon because I personally prefer a most pronounced cinnamon flavor and played around with butter amount.
As for the glaze, I concocted out one that uses cream cheese, because cinnamon rolls and cream cheese are BFFs right? I also thinned it out with heavy cream instead of milk, because OMG its something else. SO rich and creamy and just over the top.
Making the Cinnamon Twist Roll is super fun to make albeit a bit messy, and dare I say easier than actual cinnamon rolls.
You start by dividing your risen dough in half, then roll out each half into 3 to 4 feet (92 to 121 cm) long ropes.
This is the part where it gets messy! You brush melted butter over the ropes and sprinkle them with a brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Then twist them together to make a 2-strand braid.
I found that the easiest way to twist it, is by starting in the center of the ropes and NOT the ends. You first cross one rope on top of the other, creating an X shape in the middle. Now working with one side at a time, start twisting the ropes starting from the X meeting point, working your way to the ends. Then pinch the ends together to stick.
I made this in a cast-iron skillet which I find so nice and rustic, but feel free to use a round cake pan of the same size. Starting in the center of your skillet (or pan), carefully place the twisted dough inside and wind it around. If you have any extra butter from the brushing or leftover cinnamon sugar, drizzle or sprinkle them over the dough like I did in the right photo. Get it ALL in; it’s what creates the gooey stuff we all love.
Then let it rise until puffed up and doubled in size.
Then BAKE! The smell of your house at this point will be unbelievable!
Drizzle with the dreamy cream cheese glaze.
Then dig in and unravel that delicious spiral!
I still can’t get over how good it is. I know I say that a lot and it’s starting to sound like a broken record, but it really does taste better than it looks.
I’ve been told that “it tastes like the Best Thing in the World.” Verbatim.
I think you might just agree.
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 3 cups (12 3/4oz/ 362g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- ¼ cup (1 3/4oz/ 50g) granulated sugar
- 2¼ tsp. instant yeast
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup (2oz/ 57g)) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (60ml) cold water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
FOR THE CINNAMON-SUGAR COATING:
- 6 tablespoons (3oz/ 85g) butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4oz/ 149g) soft light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:
- 2 tablespoons (1oz/ 28g) cream cheese at room temperature, I used 2 Kiri squares
- 1 cup (4oz/ 113.4g) confectioner's sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons (44ml to 60ml) heavy whipping cream
TO MAKE THE DOUGH:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl, if kneading by hand), combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup with a spout (or a medium microwave-safe bowl), combine the butter and milk and heat in the microwave just until the butter is melted; about 1 minute. Mix in the cold water. This should bring down the temperature of the mixture so its perfectly warm and not too hot. A food thermometer should register between 105F-115F or a finger dipped in it should feel comfortably hot.
- Whisk the water, vanilla and eggs into the milk mixture. Pour over the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a cohesive dough starts coming together.
- Continue to knead until smooth and elastic, and the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. It should feel tacky but not sticky. If its still very sticky, mix in additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time (I usually need an extra 4 tablespoons, but it differs from one environment to another). DO NOT add flour until it feels super neat and dry or you'll end up with tough and dry results. It should stick to your finger, but leave it clean when you pull it away.. After you've perfected the consistency, knead for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (*see note below for tip) until doubled in size; about 1 hour.
TO PREPARE THE CINNAMON TWIST ROLL:
- Coat a 12-inch (30.4 cm) oven-safe skillet (or cake pan of the same size) with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
- In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and and vanilla. In another small bowl, mixture together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Turn out the dough on a work surface. Try to avoid dusting it with flour if you can. If the dough is sticking to the counter then grease the counter with a little oil. I like to use a very large silicon mat which does not stick at all to the dough, so if you have one use it. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 3 to 4 feet (92 to 121 cm) long. This is where things are gonna start getting messy, so if aren't ok with that, then carefully transfer the dough rolls to long piece of parchment paper.
- Liberally brush the dough ropes with the melted butter and vanilla mixture, making sure to cover all sides of the dough. You will most probably have some melted butter leftover; save it. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over them then lightly press and move around to coat all sides of the dough. Don't worry if you have a lot of excess cinnamon-sugar mixture that haven't stuck to the ropes; we'll use it later.
- Make sure the ropes are lining side by side, parallel to each other with both ends starting and ending together. Starting from the center of the ropes, cross one rope on top of the other, creating an X shape. Now working with one side at a time, start twisting the ropes starting from X meeting point, working your way to the ends. Pinch the ends together to stick. Repeat with the other side of the rope until you have a full 2-strand braid (or twist).
- Starting in the center of your skillet (or pan), carefully place the twisted dough inside and wind it around. If you have any extra butter from the brushing or leftover cinnamon sugar, drizzle or sprinkle them over the dough. (After this point, the prepared dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight to be baked off the next day. See note below for details.)
- Lightly cover the skillet with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size; 45 minutes to an hour.
- In the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Once the dough is doubled, remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 25 minutes(if making in a cake pan, it could take longer) until the top is deep golden brown and the insides do not look doughy anymore. Stick a tooth pick in the center of the dough and take a peak or pull a tiny piece to make sure its baked through. A food thermometer should register at 190F/88C. DO NOT overbake or the bread will turn out dry. If you notice that your bread is getting too dark, lightly cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. While the cinnamon twist roll is baking, prepare the cream cheese gaze.
TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk. It will be lumpy at this point. Add 3 tablespoons heavy cream and whisk until the mixture loosens up and smoothes out. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Add another tablespoon of heavy cream if you'd like to thin out to a more pourable consistency. Tightly cover with plastic wrap until ready to pour over the bread
- Once the cinnamon twist roll is baked, remove from the oven, then immediately drizzle with the cream cheese glaze. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve but unwinding the swirl and cutting individual sized pieces of it. Serve warm. Leftovers can be placed in an airtight container and warmed up in the microwave.
- To make a warm environment for the dough to rise, I like to turn the oven to 176F/80C then turn it off once its warm. Place the covered bowl of dough inside and watch it rise is no time! Make sure that the oven is not hot or it will start baking the bread. It should feel like a nice warm summer day.
- Make ahead tip! If you'd like to make this in advance, prepare the dough, coat and shape up until Step 6, then cover well and refrigerate overnight. It will rise slightly in the fridge and maybe even fully. About an hour before you plan to bake it, take it out of the fridge and place in the warm environment explained above to finish rising and double in size. Proceed with Step 9.
Dough recipe adapted from Annie's Eats
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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