Cinnamon Roll Cake 2.0
Updated: May 28, 2020
Prior to baking with yeast for the first time a few weeks ago I always envied people that could make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Of everyone that I know only three people have made homemade cinnamon rolls that blow me away - my friend Jess, my mother in law, and my sister in law. There is something about being able to get the right pastry to filling ratio that I always felt I couldn't achieve. Now I feel like I could at least give them a try, but with yeast still hard to find I don't want to waste any on "experiments" just yet. Enter Cinnamon Roll Cake.
I first thought of baking this a few weeks ago when I baked cookies for local EMS as part of a community support network - Mountainside Cares. Along with my cookies another resident baked a cinnamon roll cake that people were raving about. Of course then I "needed" to try it myself. So like any baker I scoured the cookbooks in my kitchen and then went to Google. I found the same recipe posted on so many sites. I gave it a try, and it was really, really good - but I felt it could use a few little tweaks to make it even better. This recipe is the result of many taste tests - thank you to everyone who suffered to create help this recipe! This recipe is perfect for a brunch, as it can easily be made the night before, then heated up and iced fresh in the morning.
Start off by gathering together your ingredients. You will want to make sure that the cream cheese and butter are both softened. Also - don't be put off by the three sticks of butter in this recipe, that's what makes it taste so good - and it's not like you are eating it every single day. I also like to melt the 4Tbsp of melted butter at the beginning, this way it has time to cool a little bit before you add it to the better. So definitely melt it while you're getting everything together to give it time to cool down.
Whisk together your dry ingredients in the bowl you will be using for the cake batter. I always measure out my milk first when I get to the wet ingredients, then crack the eggs in and add the vanilla. I whisk that together and then pour it into my dry ingredients to incorporate.
Once the wet and dry ingredients are combined you are going to slowly pour in the melted butter. Let this incorporate and then pour the batter in a greased 9x13 pan. I use the baking spray as I find it is best to get cakes out of pans. Also, I always bake this in a glass Pyrex dish. If you are using a dark or coated pan you may want to decrease the heat a bit.
In my opinion, this is the hardest part. I use my Kitchen Aid to incorporate the ingredients for the cinnamon filling, but you can easily do this with a hand mixer. I have found that the easiest way to get this evenly on your cake is to use a piping bag. The hard part is that it's very thick, so you want to make sure that you cut a big enough opening that your pastry bag doesn't pop open from the pressure. (That has happened to me. You can then just lay it on the cake, it's not a big deal.) Once you have all of the filling piped out, use a sharp knife to cut it across in the opposite direction. The higher on the cake the filling is the bigger the gaps will be when you cook it. If you don't want large holes for icing to pool into like I have, just kind of push the filling more into the cake. There is no wrong way.
When your cake comes out of the oven the filling will be bubbly, so be careful. Then, depending on your plan for the icing you will let it cool slightly and then pour the icing over the soak in. Or - you can do what I did this time and cut individual pieces of cake so that they can be heated up as needed and then just pipe icing over the top. The picture below will show you how deep the filling will go if you don't incorporate it into the cake more before cooking. Again, this is all personal preference.
Cinnamon Roll Cake 2.0
3 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 ½ Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
4oz cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, convection. Whisk together four, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. With an electric mixer, combine milk, eggs and vanilla with the flour mixture. Once combined, slowly stir in 4 Tbsp melted butter. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Distribute evenly over the top of the cake batter and use a knife to swirl in.
3. Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out nearly clean.
4. While cake is baking prepare the icing by combing all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.
5. Allow cake to cook slightly then you have two icing options – you can pour over the cake while warm and let it soak in (recommend this if you are serving immediately or if you are ok eating cold) OR you can reserve the icing on the side, and spoon on individually when you warm the cake up to eat. Store the icing in the refrigerator.
Optional: If you do not like cream cheese icing (mind blowing to me!) you can make a simple glaze frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients until smooth and pour over warm cake to soak in.