Nothing says good morning on a special day like a cinnamon roll. We have a solid family tradition of using them to celebrate the most important days of the year. First day of school, yes! Christmas, every year. And now here is an awesome way to use them for birthdays as well. Making a caramel drizzled cinnamon roll into a cake sounds like the most perfect way to start a birthday.
Make a cinnamon roll cake for a morning birthday party, for the office, for the classroom, or to celebrate at home before the day of festivities begin. Any chance to enjoy this gooey, hot treat will make your favorite people’s special day so much sweeter.
To make a caramel drizzle cinnamon roll cake at home you’ll need:
For the dough: 1 package (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast, 3/4 cup whole milk, warmed, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4 large eggs, 4-1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed, 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt, 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks.
For the caramel: 6 tbsp butter, melted, 1 cup firmly pack light brown sugar, 3 tbsp dark honey, pinch of salt, 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans.
For the filling: 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature, 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
For the cream cheese icing: 2-1/2 oz cream cheese, softened, 3 tbsp milk, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, more if needed.
Start by making the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, flour, and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until all your ingredients come together. Toss in the butter and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it is doubled in size, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
While the dough is rising butter the pans, we used an 8-inch, 6-inch, and 4-inch round cake pans for the stacked cake and an 8-inch for the single layer cake.
Make the caramel by stirring together the melted butter, brown sugar, honey, salt, and pecans. Divide and spread the mixture in each pan.
Punch down the dough and dump onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough in half. Roll out each half into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. Position the rectangles vertically.
Fill the dough. Spread each rectangle with 2 tablespoons of the room temperature butter, then half of the brown sugar and half of the cinnamon. Take a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut about 8 strips from each rectangle.
To make the center of each “cake” take one strip and starting at the end closest to you, loosely roll up the strip. Place the roll in the center of the pan. Coil the remaining strips around the center roll by joining the strip to the end of the previous one, until the pan is filled. Continue these steps for the other pans. You may have leftover strips of filled dough which you can make into regular cinnamon rolls.
Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake until the cakes are golden brown, 25-30 minutes (watch the smaller pans for doneness sooner). If some parts of the cake start to rise more than others, take a spatula or cake server and lightly press down on the spot.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully invert each pan onto a plate (you can use a cake stand for the large cake) and unmold the cakes.
While cakes are cooling, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Drizzle cream cheese icing over the top of the largest cake. Stack the medium-size cake on top of the large cake, drizzle with icing. Top with the small cake and drizzle with icing. Serve and enjoy!
(Project styling and photography by Athena Plichta for A Subtle Revelry. Recipe adapted from Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw)