OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon Vanilla ExtractAlmond Extract, Orange Extract, or Maple Extract
FOR THE DOUGH:
Warm the milk in a medium bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute, or on the stove top in a small saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes.Then, pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. (Alternatively, pour the milk into a large mixing bowl if you don't have a stand mixer and are making by hand).
Whisk the sugar and yeast into the milk just until mostly dissolved. Allow the milk mixture to sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
Cut the softened butter into 6 chunks and add to the mixer. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
With the mixer on low, beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the salt.
Turn the mixer off and add in 2 cups of flour. Beat on low speed, gradually adding the remaining flour just until the dough is not sticking to the bowl.
Turn the mixer off and add in 2 more cups of the flour. Then, beat on low speed for 1 minute, turn the mixer off and check the dough. It should feel tacky but not sticky. If it feels sticky add ½-1 cup more flour, beating in between additions until no longer sticky.
Turn the mixer up to medium speed, and beat the dough for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Remove the dough from the hook and place on a lightly floured surface, then form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough into a large, greased mixing bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Alternately, Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn the oven off. Place the bowl inside the oven and rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of butter.
Punch the dough down, then, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, making sure it has even thickness. (About ¼ inch thick).
FOR THE FILLING:
Use a brush, or a spatula to spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ inch edge around the border.
In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then, sprinkle evenly over the dough, pressing down slightly with your hands so that the filling sticks.
Beginning at the longest edge closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log, about 16-18 inches long.
Using a serrated knife, slice the dough into rolls about 1 ½ inches thick to yield 12 rolls total.
Place the rolls evenly in the prepared baking pan.
If baking the rolls the same day, cover them in the pan and allow them to rise in a warm place (or warm oven) for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
If making overnight cinnamon rolls, cover the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and allow the rolls to rise in a warm place for 2 hours before baking.
FOR THE FROSTING:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, combine the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon of milk or juice, along with extract of your choice and beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until combined. Add an extra Tablespoon of milk or juice if necessary to thin the frosting out more. Frost rolls as desired.
NOTE ON YEAST: This recipe uses regular, active dry yeast, not instant. After the yeast/milk/sugar mixture has sat for 10 minutes if it is not foamy, your milk may have been to hot or too cold, or the yeast may be old. Check the date on your yeast. The milk should be lukewarm to the touch, but not hot and shouldn't have any cold spots.NOTE ON STORING THE ROLLS: These rolls can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for 5 days. Alternately, you can freeze the cooked rolls for up to 3 months.