gingerbread cinnamon roll on plate

If I ran my own bed and breakfast, I’d bake these cinnamon rolls every morning. Scratch that — when I have my own bed and breakfast, I will bake these cinnamon rolls every morning. I’ll be just like Sookie on “Gilmore Girls.” (Salmon puffs. Sal-mon puffs.)

Truth be told, I may never have enough time or energy or know-how to have my own bed and breakfast, and that’s OK. But one thing is for sure — these cinnamon rolls will always be in my (near) future.

gingerbread cinnamon rolls in baking dish

There’s something about the taste of gingerbread that whisks me away to my childhood. I don’t know if it’s memories of making gingerbread houses with our neighborhood group of kids, or chomping the heads off of gingerbread men around the holidays (such a sweet memory, I know), but one bite of gingerbread and I can’t help but feel all holly jolly inside. Combine that with the coziness of a warm cinnamon roll on a weekend morning and I’m as happy as a kid on Christmas morning.

pouring glaze on cinnamon rolls

The flavor of gingerbread in these cinnamon rolls is subtle — it sneaks up on you between bites of soft, buttery roll and sweet cinnamon-vanilla glaze. I find they’re best topped with tart sugared cranberries, but the glaze alone is enough to put these over the moon. It’s the perfect recipe to wake up your kids with on Christmas morning (though growing up, my excitement would wake me up well before then) or make for a holiday brunch gathering. Or, maybe, at your imaginary future bed and breakfast. Whatever works.

gingerbread cinnamon roll on a plate

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

Yields: 12 cinnamon rolls

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the glaze —
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 to 5 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment, whisk yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
Stir in milk, molasses, brown sugar, egg, oil and salt. Stir in 1 cup flour, then replace paddle attachment with dough hook. Add enough flour until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl (you may not use all the flour). Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon flour at a time as necessary until you end up with a smooth, elastic dough (you can also knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until you end up with a smooth, elastic dough). Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch risen dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Roll dough out into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle and brush melted butter on top of dough. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture and roll up tightly from the long end, pinching to seal. Cut log into 12 equal pieces and space evenly in 13-by-9-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover risen rolls and bake 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. In the meantime, make your glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and enough milk to make a drippy glaze. Remove rolls from oven and let cool 5 minutes before drizzling with glaze. Top with frozen cranberries rolled in sugar and serve warm.