In a small saucepan over medium low heat, warm the milk to 110°F. The best way to measure this is to use a candy thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, warm until milk it is luke warm to the touch. Be careful, if the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast. Once the milk is warm, pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. If your not using a stand mixer, a large bowl will work.
Sprinkle active dry yeast on top of the warmed milk, stir slightly, let the yeast sit and bloom, about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the yeast should look frothy and puffed, if it doesn’t look like this, your yeast might be dead. It is best to start over with new milk, and new yeast.
Once the yeast has bloomed add the sugar, salt, butter, and eggs. Attach the dough hook attachment (or with a sturdy wooden spoon if you’re not using a mixer) and mix slightly just to roughly combine. Add 3 cups of flour and fully incorporate. Dough will be super sticky. Gradually add remaining 3 ½ cups of flour until a soft dough has formed.
On a large lightly floured surface knead dough for 3-5 minutes adding small amounts of flour as needed. Form dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled glass bowl, turn dough over to cover completely in oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm space. Let dough rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, this is a good time to make the filling. There are two parts to the filling. First, we will make the dry filling. In a medium sized bowl, combine dark brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Using a fork, combine, taking care to remove large clumps of brown sugar. Set aside.
Next is the Vanilla Butter, in a small bowl, combine the softened butter, vanilla, and ¼ cup of the above dry filling. Stir to combine.
Once dough has risen and roughly doubled in size, remove plastic wrap and punch down dough.
Turn dough onto a large lightly floured surface. DO NOT KNEAD the dough again. Start pushing the dough out to create a rectangle. Use a rolling pin, roll dough to an approximate size of 32” x 24”. Dough should be about ¼” thick.
Using your hands, spread the vanilla butter in a thin layer over the entire surface of the dough. Your hands will help to slightly melt the butter and make it super easy to spread out.
Next sprinkle all the remaining dry filling over top. Evenly spread out with your hands and use a rolling pin to gently push all the dry filling into the dough and smooth it out.
Starting at one of the long sides, roll the dough up tightly. Place it seam side down.
Lightly butter 2 - 9”x13” oven safe dishes and set aside.
To slice the cinnamon buns, use a sharp serrated knife, and don’t apply much pressure, let the weight of the knife do most of the work, gently pull the knife back and forth until sliced through. To get even sized cinnamon buns, trim off the ends, slice roll in half, then both halves in half again, and all four of the halves in half, and then all eight pieces in half again. Making 16 evenly sized cinnamon buns.
Place cinnamon buns in buttered dishes, 8 per dish. They can sit close together.
Cover both dishes tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to let rise another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F
While the cinnamon buns are rising, make the frosting. In a large bowl with a hand mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix until velvety smooth. Cover and set aside.
After buns have finished the second rise, remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave the cinnamon buns in the dishes and let cool 5-10 minutes. While the cinnamon buns are still warm, generously spread the frosting over the tops. The heat from the cinnamon buns will slightly melt the frosting. Let cool for a few more minutes and serve!