Making fresh cinnamon rolls is easier than you think. Just be sure to plan ahead; the best cinnamon rolls are made with dough that’s been chilled in the refrigerator overnight.
When you’re working with dried yeast, you want to be sure to activate it before mixing it into the dough. Mix the yeast with some warm (but not hot) liquid (in this case, milk and water) and let it sit for a few minutes, until it starts to bubble. When it does, it’s ready to be added to the dough.
Then, mix the yeast with the other ingredients for your cinnamon roll dough. When the dough comes together, increase the speed of your electric mixer and knead the dough until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Put the dough into a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
When the dough has roughly doubled in size, pick it up and drop it back into the bowl so that it deflates. Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Then, mix sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make the filling for your cinnamon rolls. You can do this in advance (and leave it in an airtight container at room temperature overnight) or on the morning that you plan to bake the cinnamon rolls.
When you’re ready to bake the cinnamon rolls, take the dough out of the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and brush a 9-inch square baking dish with melted butter. Roll the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, spread butter over the entire surface, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar topping over the butter. Then, gently roll the dough into a tight log.
Cut the log into ½-inch-thick slices. If you can, of course, us a sharp knife to do this; waxed, unflavored dental floss also does a great job of cutting through the dough easily. Simply loop the floss around the log, cross the two ends, and pull until a piece of the log is sliced off.
Put the cinnamon rolls into the buttered pan (the sides of each cinnamon roll should just barely touch the ones next to it), cover the pan with waxed paper, and leave them in a warm place to proof. When the cinnamon rolls have approximately doubled in size, they’re ready to be baked.
Bake the cinnamon rolls in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Then, place the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Make a quick glaze with powdered sugar and milk (just mix the two until the right consistency is achieved) and pour the glaze over the cinnamon rolls before serving. You can glaze the cinnamon rolls while they are warm, but make sure they’re not too hot — otherwise the glaze will melt and pool around the sides of the pan.