I have a thing about cinnamon rolls – I love them too much! I am also picky about the texture and taste. I love them to be soft, sort of gooey, lots of cinnamon and butter, and icing that is creamy, fluffy, and decadent. I think most people will agree!
When I stumbled across this recipe while looking for something along the lines of cinnamon rolls for our Christmas brunch, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. The number of steps was a bit intimidating, but I went forward and made it and I am so glad I did – It was perfect! I was also pleasantly surprised that it came together quickly. I make this cinnamon roll cake every Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving plus any other time I want a cinnamon roll (because it tastes just like a cinnamon roll!)
It does not last long in my house, and I usually find someone eating the crumbs off the plate. I love making it in a Bundt pan (See Notes) but I like it just as much in a regular pan. As for the frosting, it is incredible, and I use it for frosting other cakes as well. I also am guilty of keeping extra in a little dish in the refrigerator to eat with a spoon when no one is looking!
FOR THE CAKE
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter – softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup full fat sour cream
3 Tbsp. milk
FOR THE CINNAMON FILLING
½ cup unsalted butter, very soft but not melted
⅔ cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 heaping Tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
FOR THE FROSTING
1 stick butter – softened
1/2 pack softened cream cheese (4 oz.)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Butter a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then the vanilla extract. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add the flour in three additions and the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
Once combined, add milk and beat until incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Spread batter in prepared pan (it will be thick).
THE CINNAMON FILLING
Mix all the ingredients until well combined (I use a fork or a rubber spatula).
Drop small spoonfuls of filling all around on the top of the cake batter.
Use a thin knife to swirl the filling around and down into the batter.
BAKE (Make the Frosting while the Cake is Baking)
Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
When checking for doneness make sure you’re checking the cake portion, don’t worry about the cinnamon swirls.
Peek at the cake around 25 minutes.
If it begins to get dark, place a piece of foil loosely over the top.
Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
While the cake is still warm, not hot, spread the frosting over the top.
Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature so that they are soft.
Cream together using an electric mixer.
Slowly add the powdered sugar while beating with the electric mixer.
Beat for 10 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Next add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat until incorporated.
• Pan: For a Bundt pan, butter generously and then flour the pan all the way up the sides and the center. Add half the batter to the pan and spread. Then place the dollops of filling. Spread the remaining batter over the top. Use a thin knife to swirl batter. Bake at 350° F. A Bundt pan will take longer to bake so after 35-40 minutes, check every 5 minutes until done. Let pan sit on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes – no longer. Gently run a toothpick around the edge of the cake, tap the pan on the counter a few times, and then flip the cake onto a plate or serving platter. If you flip too soon, the cake will fall apart, if you wait too long, it will stick. While the cake is warm, not hot, place dollops of frosting on the top part of the cake. Spread around a little and let it drip down the sides. If a lot drips down the sides, take a spoon and place some of the excess back on the top.
• Freeze: Cool the cake completely, either frost or leave plain, and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.