When these carrot cake cinnamon rolls are in the oven, I'm almost certain all the flats on our floor can smell them. The sweetly-spiced scent fills our home and lingers in the air for rest of the day. I've come back from running an errand, sometimes a few hours later, and can still follow the scent from the elevator to my flat.
Given the choice, do you prefer a carrot cake or a cinnamon roll? Choose your own adventure below!
Choice 1: I prefer the carrot cake.
This carrot cake cinnamon roll is made with a generous portion of grated carrots and a mix of spices you normally find in a carrot cake - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla. It's also filled with pecans (or walnuts if you prefer) and raisins, staying true to most carrot cake recipes. Most importantly, it's topped with a classic cream cheese frosting. You won't miss anything about a carrot cake in these.
But with this recipe, you'll also get something more exciting, and novel. Maybe novelty is not a flavor, but it definitely adds to the eating experience! It's the classic carrot cake flavor you love, but packed in the tender, chewy and almost gooey texture of a cinnamon roll. If you're a carrot cake type, then this carrot cake cinnamon roll is just for you!
Choice 2: I prefer the cinnamon roll.
This carrot cake cinnamon roll has everything you want in a cinnamon roll - buttery, tender, chewy, and sweetly spiced (but not too sweet!). It's made with real butter pieces, whole milk and a generous serving of cinnamon and brown sugar. It is beautiful when it comes out of the oven, with puffy spirals of goodness staring back at you.
But there's more! The grated carrot in these cinnamon rolls makes them incredibly moist, while lending a subtle sweetness. The pecans and raisins rolled into the dough also add in a bit of texture and crunch to the otherwise fluffy texture of a cinnamon roll. If you're a cinnamon roll type, then this carrot cake cinnamon roll is also just for you!
Obviously, asking you whether you prefer carrot cake or a cinnamon roll was a trick question. Either way, you will end up at the same point :) They are perfect for brunch, and definitely a crowd pleaser if you are ever feeding a group of friends or family. They do take a bit of time because the dough needs to rise twice and the dough requires a bit of kneading, but give it a go because this carrot cake cinnamon roll is just for you!
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Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) fast-acting yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour - plus more added 1 tablespoon at a time
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter - cubed and at room temperature
- 1 cup grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
- ¼ cup butter - at room temperature
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts - chopped
- ¼ cup raisins - chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ¼ cup butter - cubed and at room temperature
- ½ cup cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- In a large microwavable cup (at least 2 cups), heat the milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, until it is warm. Add in the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add in the yeast and give it a quick stir. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add in the milk and yeast mixture.
- Mix together until it forms a rough dough, then add in the butter one cube at a time while kneading the dough with your hands. Continue kneading for about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is too sticky, add in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to make a soft smooth dough.
- Add in the grated carrots and continue kneading for about 3 more minutes until the carrots are well dispersed. If the dough is becomes too sticky, add in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to make a soft smooth dough. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave it in a warm place for about 1 hour, until it almost doubles in size.
- In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans or walnuts, and raisins. Set aside.
- When the dough is ready, split the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to form a rectangle about 20cm x 30cm (12-inch x 8-inch) and ¼ inch thick. Spread on half of the butter, then evenly sprinkle on half of the brown sugar mixture. Beginning on the long side, slowly roll up the dough to form a log. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Cut the dough into 5 cm (2-inch) pieces. Place in a greased baking pan, leaving about 2cm (¾-inch) between each piece. Cover with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until it almost doubles in size.
- In the meantime, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, add in all the ingredients and mix with a spatula until the sugar is combined. Using an electric hand beater on high speed, beat everything together until smooth. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to be used.
- When the dough is almost ready, preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let it cool slightly before spreading on the cream cheese frosting.