Sweet Sticky Buns Topped with Gooey Cream Cheese Glaze
8 tablespoons unsalted butter [113.4 g]
1 cup milk, warmed [240 mL]
1/4 ounces (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast [7 g]
2 tsp granulated sugar (for activating yeast) [8.3 g]
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out [480 g]
1/2 cup granulated sugar [100 g]
1 teaspoon table salt [5.7 g]
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon [0.7 g]
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg [0.6 g]
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger [0.4 g]
2 large eggs (room temperature) [100 g without shell]
vegetable oil for coating bowl
8 tbsp unsalted butter (softened) [113.4 g]
1 tightly packed cup dark brown sugar [220 g]
1/4 tsp table salt [1.4 g]
2 tbsp ground cinnamon [15.6 g]
1/2 cup heavy cream (sub: full-fat milk) [120 mL]
Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese [113.4 g]
8 tbsp unsalted butter [113.4 g]
2 cups powdered sugar [240 g]
2 tsp vanilla extract [10 mL]
1/4 tsp table salt [1.4 g]
2 tablespoons milk [30 mL]
Take 2 large eggs, and a total of 16 tbsp of unsalted butter (2 sticks of butter), and 4 oz of cream cheese (half of an 8-oz block), and leave them on the counter to come to room temperature.
In a saucepan, take a third stick (8 tbsp) of unsalted butter (this is separate from the 2 sticks that were placed at room temperature), melt this butter over medium heat, and brown it until it starts to smell nutty. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, microwave 1 cup of whole milk till it's lukewarm, about 1 1/2 minutes on the microwave (to about 105-115 F or 40-46 C). While it's hot, whisk 2 tsp of granulated sugar into the milk. If the milk is too hot, just let it sit while whisking, till it reaches the right temperature. When the milk is 105-115 F, whisk in 2 1/4 tsp (which is a 1/4 oz packet) of active dry yeast till it gets dissolved, and let it proof for about 10 minutes. It should start to look foamy on top.
In the mixing bowl of your stand-mixer, add in 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground ginger. Using the regular beater attachment, mix this on medium-low speed to combine the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer, and add in the browned butter from earlier, add the yeast mixture, and 2 large room temperature eggs. Mix this together on medium-low speed just until the ingredients are combined. With a spatula, scrape the batter from the sides of the bowl and off the beater and remove the beater attachment, and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes - this will allow the flour to soak up the liquid.
Attach the dough hook attachment, and knead on medium speed for about 7 minutes, till the dough looks smooth. It's okay if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Take a large bowl, oil it very well, and transfer the resulting dough into the oiled bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 1 hour. This will allow it to double in volume.
While waiting for the dough to proof, prep a 9" x 13" rectangular baking dish (I usually use a Pyrex dish) by lining the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the sides as well as the parchment paper generously.
Prepare the filling mixture: in a mixing bowl, add in 1 tightly packed cup of dark brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of table salt, and 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon. Whisk these together until they are completely combined. In a small mixing bowl, add in one of the 8 tbsp sticks of softened room temperature butter you had prepped in the beginning, and mash it up so it becomes a nice spreadable consistency. Set these 2 bowls aside for now.
When the dough has proofed for 1 hour, generously flour a smooth surface, and transfer the dough onto it.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle that's 17" on the short side and 20" on the long side. To make it easier to form the log later on, make the edge closest to you the 17" side of the rectangle. Spread 8 tbsp of softened unsalted butter (one of the sticks of butter we prepped in the very beginning) evenly over the rectangle of dough, going all the way to the edges. Then sprinkle the cinnamon-brown sugar filling mixture evenly over the layer of butter. Then use a spoon to spread the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly, covering up any gaps as much as possible. Again, make sure it goes all the way to the edges.
From the 17" side of the dough (should be the side closest to you), roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder or log. The dough should get more elongated as you roll it, and you should end up with a log that's about 18" long. Use a bench scraper to help unstick the dough, as needed. If the log is short of 18", roll the log back and forth from the middle gently stretching it outwards, so that it becomes 18" long. Flatten the ends with your hands as, as needed. I like to use a ruler to lightly mark the dough at 1 1/2-inch intervals along the 18" long log, as a guide of where to cut the dough, so that it will make exactly 12 individual rolls.
Using a serrated knife with the intervals that you marked as a guide, cut the roll into individual rolls that are 1 1/2 inches thick. I find it's best to do a sawing back and forth motion with the serrated knife to prevent collapsing the spirals. You should end up with 12 individual rolls.
As the rolls are cut, place them into the prepared 9" x 13" baking dish, with 3 rows of 4 rolls per row. Cover them with plastic wrap, and let them continue to rise for 45 minutes. This is a good place to stop. If you're making them in advance, put them in the fridge overnight and let them warm up by leaving them at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before baking.
When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C). Take 1/2 cup of heavy cream (can substitute with full-fat milk), and let it come to room temperature by heating it in the microwave for about 30 to 40 seconds. It should just be room temperature to slightly-warm, but not hot. Pour the heavy cream over the risen rolls, letting it drip in between and down the sides of the rolls. Bake the rolls at 350 F (175 C) for 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
While the buns are baking, prepare the sweetened cream cheese glaze. Take the bowl of your stand mixer, but do not attach it to the stand mixer yet. Add in the 4 oz (1/2 cup) of softened cream cheese and 8 tbsp of unsalted butter (the second stick of butter) we placed at room temperature in the very beginning, together with 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp of table salt, and 2 tbsp of milk. Then sift in 2 cups of powdered sugar (sifting is important to remove any lumps so powdered sugar gets mixed in easily). Attach the bowl to the stand mixer. Using the beater attachment, beat these ingredients on medium speed just until the mixture is fully combined, about 1 minute so that everything gets mixed in. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Then continue mixing again on medium speed for another 1 minute, until the mixture is fully combined. Note: do not overbeat this mixture - the glaze will end up looking grainy if too much air is whipped in.
When the buns are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooling, top the cooled buns with the sweetened cream cheese / buttercream glaze. Enjoy!