Don’t use chai tea mix. You don’t want the leaves/crushed spices. You want a spice powder. If you use a different chai spice blend, your rolls will most likely tastes slightly different so find a mix you like and stick with it.
Many store bought chai spice powder mixes do not have pepper in it. Pepper is what gives these rolls a spicy kick, so we highly recommend using a spice mix that has pepper in it.
Bread flour gives the rolls a chewier, more sturdy structure. All-purpose flour works, but the rolls will be softer.
Instant yeast or active dry yeast will work. I prefer instant yeast.
The eggs and heavy cream should be at room temperature so they don’t affect the outcome of the rolls.
Make the cinnamon roll dough.
Prepare the dough. You can do this 3 different ways: Knead by hand (you’ll get an arm workout), use a stand mixer to knead the dough (fairly easy), use a bread machine on the dough setting (easiest ever!)
Activate the yeast. I use instant yeast, but I still activate the yeast by sprinkling it over the warm milk. The milk should be 115ºF. Use an internal probe thermometer to test the temperature of the milk. This is very important for the getting the perfect rise out of the dough.
After the yeast has activated slightly, add the room temperature eggs, softened butter, sugar, chai spice and sugar. Mix well with the beater blade.
Add 2 cups of flour and salt, mix again just until combined.
Then add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix until combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes which will help the gluten develop.
Switch out the beater blade for the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for 5-7 minutes.
don’t add too much flour
They key to soft cinnamon rolls is to not add too much flour. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch and not dry. But you should be able to still roll the dough easily.
Let the dough rise.
If the yeast is activated properly, it should take about 30-40 minutes for the dough to nearly double in size.
Assemble the rolls.
While the dough is rising you can make the filling, then it will be ready to use once you’ve rolled the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
Roll up the dough jelly roll style, then use a sharp knife or floss to cut 12 rolls. Then place the rolls in a greased 9×13″ glass baking dish.
Once the rolls have rested for an additional 20 minutes, it’s time to add the secret ingredient. The one that makes our rolls stand out from all the others: heavy cream.
Drizzle that heavy cream over the rolls. Remember to warm it slightly so that the cold cream doesn’t stunt the growth of the cinnamon rolls.
Baking time will vary between about 22-30 minutes, depending on the type of pan you use and size. I use a glass pan and it takes about 28-30 minutes. Ceramic pans will take longer and metal pans may bake more quickly.
Check your rolls at 20 minutes. If they are starting to get too brown, cover loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
The internal temperature of the cinnamon rolls should be 190ºF.
Make a chai glaze.
Brew a cup of chai and make it strong. I usually use ¼ cup water for a whole tea bag. That way the glaze will have a lot of tea flavor.
In a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of tea. Mix with a whisk. Add the last tablespoon of tea if necessary, mixing until the glaze is at the consistency you’d like.
Then drizzle the glaze over the cooled rolls.
You can also use our cinnamon roll icing recipe for a cream cheese frosting that is irresistible. It adds a rich, creamy sweetness that you’ll love.
Overnight Chai Cinnamon Rolls
We often make the sweet rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.
The morning you want to bake them, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.
If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise for an hour at room temperature. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.
1/2cupheavy cream(for pouring over the risen rolls), 4 oumces
For the Glaze:
2cupspowdered sugar260 grams
1/2teaspoonvanilla extract2 grams
3-4tablespoonsstrongly brewed chai1-2 ounces
Make the dough. Pour the warm milk (115ºF) in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Allow this to sit for 3-4 minutes so that the yeast starts to activate.
Add the eggs, butter, chai spice and sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
Add 2 cups of flour and the salt. Mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Then add in the other 2 cups of flour. Mix until well combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids. Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook.
Beat the dough on low speed for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. The dough will be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl slightly. That's ok! If it really looks too wet, add up to ½ more cup of flour as you knead the dough. Just add tablespoon or two at a time. Don't be tempted to add too much flour or it will make the rolls dry. The dough should be slightly sticky.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap.
Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until almost double. It normally takes about 30-60 minutes for the dough to rise but the time can vary based on weather and even altitude. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.
Assemble the rolls. While the dough is rising, prepare the chai spice filling. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and chai spice, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
Sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the pastry mat and sprinkle the top of the dough with a light dusting of additional flour.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about a 24×15″ rectangle. (the size of the rectangle can vary…it does not have to be exact!)
Use a rubber spatula to smooth the chai filling over the whole dough rectangle.
Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style. Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13" glass baking pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes. It's ok if they don't rise a lot (especially if you are using instant yeast). They'll grow during baking!
Bake the rolls. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
Warm the heavy cream until the chill is off. Don’t make it hot…you just don’t want it cold. It should be warm to the touch. Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
Bake for 27-30 minutes. Check the rolls after about 20 minutes of baking. If they look like they are getting too browned, place a piece of foil over the top of the pan for the remainder of the time. **Note…the time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. To see if they are done, lightly pull up on the edge of the cinnamon roll in the center. If it looks cooked and not too doughy, it is done. You can also test the internal temperature of the dough. It should be 190ºF.**
Prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of tea. Mix with a whisk. Add the last tablespoon of tea if necessary, mixing until the glaze is at the consistency you'd like.
Drizzle the frosting over the cooled rolls. You can pour or spread it over warmed rolls but the glaze will soak in more.
Bread flour is best for cinnamon rolls, but all-purpose flour will work as well.
Store the cinnamon rolls in an airtight container at room temperature.
The calories shown are based on the recipe making 12 rolls, with 1 serving being 1 frosted roll. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**