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Warm milk in the microwave milk for 45-60 seconds. It should be warm but not hot to the touch (about 105 degrees F).
Place milk into the bowl of your standing mixer, then add 1 TBS sugar and 1 TBS yeast to the warm milk. Stir and let it sit (proof) for five minutes or until it becomes foamy.
Add the ½ cup sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla to the mixture in the bowl of your standing mixer. Use a dough hook to stir until combined
Add 4 cups flour, salt and cinnamon and stir the dough hook, starting on low and increasing to high.
Knead dough in the standing mixer until a large ball is formed. The dough should be smooth and only slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough seems too sticky and is not forming a ball, add more flour 1 TBS at a time until a smooth ball is formed.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead with your hands until it is smooth and elastic (about 3-5 minutes). Form it into a ball.
Grease a large bowl and place the dough inside.
Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel and put the bowl in a warm place to rise.
Let the dough rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filing. In a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until mixture is homogenous (uniform throughout). Set aside.
Alternately, you can combine the cinnamon and sugar. Then melt the butter and brush it on the rolled dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on the butter-brushed dough. (I think this way is easier)!
Assemble Cinnamon Rolls
Sprinkle a large work surface with flour.
Gently press the gas out of the dough and form it into a rectangle.
Roll the dough into a 24x12” rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
Spread the filling all over the dough using greased hands or a greased spatula. This process can seem difficult but it gets easier as you spread it. (Alternately: if you only combined the cinnamon and sugar, then melt the butter and use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter all over the dough. Then sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar and pat it down gently to insure it sticks).
Roll up dough cut into 12 equal sized rolls (feel free to measure and cut each roll to be 2” long).
Line a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease. Then place rolls in 4 rows of three, evenly spaced.
Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Bake Cinnamon Rolls
Once rolls are doubled in size, bake them in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. They will rise more in the oven. (NOTE: Check the center cinnamon rolls and make sure they are baked through. If your oven bakes cool or unevenly you may need to increase the baking time up to 10 minutes longer. If the top starts to brown before the center is baked, tent the baking pan with foil to prevent further browning).
While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Do NOT chill the frosting. Keep it at room temperature until the cinnamon rolls are baked.
Once the cinnamon rolls have bene removed from the oven, spread the cream cheese frosting on them while they are still warm.
Cool & Serve!
Let cool and serve warm.