Grease a circular cake pan or spring-form pan with butter, measuring about 30cm in diameter. Preheat oven to 180°C when ready to bake cinnamon rolls.
Heat first measure of butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small pot on low heat. Once butter has melted, remove from heat and add milk. Dip your finger in the mixture, if it is about body temperature then add yeast, stir and set aside for about 5 minutes. If it is too hot, the yeast will deactivate and the dough will not rise.
Sift flour and place into a large bowl or bowl that fits your cake mixer. Add the milk mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon until smooth. Alternatively beat with a paddle attachment on your mixer until smooth. Add whisked eggs, half at a time, beating until smooth before each addition.
Once flour is combined, dust a clean surface to turn out dough. If using a mixer, switch to a dough hook at this stage. Knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is soft but not sticky. Do not add more flour as this will make the dough dense. Place in a greased bowl, covered with damp paper towels (making sure the dough has room to rise) and set aside somewhere warm to rest, preferably overnight or for a minimum of 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.
In a small bowl, beat together all filling ingredients with a wooden spoon, until smooth. When ready to bake, dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough into an even rectangle measuring about 30 x 20cm. Evenly spread filling over the dough, leaving a 2cm gap around the edges. Roll up tightly into a log and slice log in half repeatedly until you have about 8-10 rolls.
Place one roll in the centre of prepared tray, cut-side down and place remaining rolls around it in a circle, leaving space between each one for them to rise. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
While cinnamon rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Beat cream cheese (or milk) with icing sugar with a whisk or in your mixer, until smooth. Spread glaze over hot cinnamon rolls and sprinkle with pistachios. Leave to set for 5 minutes before serving.
To serve, tear rolls apart and serve with a lovely cup of tea or a special Christmas coffee.
Tip: Prepare the dough the night before and pop your cinnamon rolls in the oven before you get stuck into the festivities.