Master Sweet Dough Recipe

This is my master sweet dough recipe that can be made into so many different things

This master sweet dough recipe is all you need to make tons of different desserts like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns and monkey bread. This recipe makes a LOT of dough because if I’m going to go through the trouble of making my own bread, you know I’m gonna make a lot!

sweet dough recipe

I like to divide my sweet dough recipe in half and make two different things. This is great for the holidays because you can prep a lot of dough and then make multiple desserts. 

What is sweet dough?

Sweet dough is an enriched dough which means it has things like eggs, butter and sugar added. These ingredients make the dough very soft and moist! It also means that it can take longer to rise. So plan ahead so you have enough time. 

sweet dough ingredients flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, eggs and yeast

Does this sweet dough take a long time to make?

I almost always make my sweet dough recipe the day before I want to bake up my dessert. By the time I make the dough, proof it, and shape it into the dessert I want, the day is half gone.

After you shape the dough you can cover it with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge. The cold will slow down the second proof. Take the sweet dough out of the fridge about 1 hour before you need to bake or until it’s doubled in size. Then bake according to the recipe! 

closeup of sweet dough rising in a bowl

How do you make the best sweet dough recipe?

Mixing bread is not difficult but the added butter and eggs can get in the way of the yeast consuming the flour, resulting in a very slow rise. Follow these steps to ensure your sweet dough rises as quick as possible. 

You can also substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast which rises much faster. Follow the directions on the package for substitutions. 

  1. Warm your milk to 110ºF and combine with 1 Tablespoon sugar and your yeast to activate your yeast
  2. Put your flour in the mixing bowl with the milk/yeast mixture and stir until combined with the dough hook
  3. Add in your eggs one at a time, then the sugar, salt and butter and mix until combined
  4. Mix on medium speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and the dough bounces back when you touch it. 
  5. Proof in a warm area for 90 minutes or until dough doubles in size
  6. Shape dough according to the recipe you are following
  7. Proof for another 60 minutes or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight until you need to bake the bread. 

How do you know when the sweet dough is kneaded enough?

The dough needs time to develop the gluten. But how can you tell when it’d developed? You can do a few tests along the way. 

When your ingredients first start mixing, notice the texture of the dough is rough and tearing a lot. It might be sticking to the sides of the bowl too. 

After a few minutes, the dough will clean the sides of the bowl. Touch the dough, does it feel really soft. When you press your finger into it, does it make an indent that does not spring back? If you pick the dough up does it ooze between your fingers? This means there isn’t enough gluten yet. Keep mixing on medium speed. 

You can also take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers to make a “window”. If you can make the dough very thin, almost to the point you can see through it (like a window) then you know enough gluten has been developed and you can now place your dough into the bowl to rise. 

the window test to see if enough gluten has developed in dough

***optional warm oven technique** I pre-heat my oven to 170ºF for five minutes then TURN THE OVEN OFF. It should be barely warm inside. Place a bowl of warm water in the back of the oven and your covered bowl of dough into the oven and shut the door. This creates a nice warm/moist environment for the dough to rise. But don’t forget about it and turn on your oven! High heat will kill your yeast. 

How do you know your sweet dough has proofed long enough?

Press two fingers down into the top of the dough to make a hole. Does the dough bounce back right away or does it slowly move? If it’s moving slowly but mostly holds its shape then you’re good to go.

If it’s been 90 minutes and your dough has not doubled in size it could be for a couple of reasons. Your yeast is not active anymore. You’ll have to toss the dough and try again with fresh yeast. Your kitchen could be too cold in which case you need to turn up the heat or try my warm oven technique I mention above.  

homemade dinner rolls on a blue sheet pan rising
Cover and let your bread proof (rise) until it’s doubled in size or when you poke one side with your finger, it leaves an indentation

Can you over-knead the dough?

Yes, you can definitely over-knead the sweet dough using a mixer. If your dough becomes so tight that it starts tearing and feels very stiff and hard, it’s probably over-mixed. There isn’t much you can do to fix this. The bread will probably taste fine. Just not rise quite as much. 

Can you make sweet dough by hand?

You can definitely make sweet dough by hand, it just takes some elbow grease. After your ingredients are combined, take the dough to the workbench and knead with your hands until a smooth elastic ball forms. Kneading dough by hand takes about 15 minutes. 

Sweet Dough Recipes

Cinnamon Rolls
Sticky Buns
Monkey Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Recipe

Master Sweet Dough Recipe

sweet dough recipe
Use this master sweet dough recipe to make all kinds of different desserts like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, doughnuts and more!
Servings: 50 ounces

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with dough hook

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces milk 110ºF
  • 10 grams dried instant yeast
  • 25 ounces all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 8 ounces butter softened
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs room temperature

Instructions

  • Warm milk to 110ºF. Add in 1 Tablespoon of your sugar and then the yeast and whisk to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add your flour to your mixing bowl and then add in your milk/yeast mixture. Stir on low to combine
  • While mixing on low, add in your sugar, eggs, butter and salt until combined
  • Increase the speed to medium and let mix until the dough cleans the sides of the bowls and feels elastic and smooth. The dough should bounce back when you touch it with your finger. This can take 8 - 12 minutes *do the window test - see blog post for details*
  • Shape the dough into a smooth ball and then place it into a greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm place
    ***optional***(I pre-heat my oven to 170ºF for five minutes then TURN THE OVEN OFF. It should be barely warm inside. Place a bowl of warm water in the back of the oven and your covered bowl of dough into the oven and shut the door)
  • You can now shape the dough into rolls, make cinnamon rolls, sticky buns etc. See the blog post above for links to other recipes.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 139IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bread
Calories: 101kcal
Author: Elizabeth Marek