Cinnamon Rolls

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Christmas came and I must say, it was pretty spectacular.  It was simple, but I like simple.  Just us and our lovely little animals enjoying each other’s company while enjoying Christmas specials (A Christmas Story!), munching on special treats (cinnamon rolls, anybody?), and staying up into the wee hours of the morning knitting Christmas gifts.  And I got some pretty adorable gifts, like this mug and this tea infuser.  Pretty awesome, no?

With the Christmas rush gone, Abigail has begun playing Call of Duty: Ghosts and, even though I have always found the Call of Duty franchise to be insufferably boring, I must say Ghosts is pretty neat.  And Riley is adorable.  I mean, who doesn’t love a little German Shepherd in a vest?  I love it when rough and tough games have cute animals in them; it makes everything perfect.  Apparently Riley has quite the fan club, and many gamers vow to “destroy their consols” if Riley gets killed off.

But enough of that.  I know you’re all here for these too-good-to-be-true, ooey gooey, sweet and cinnamony, tender, and sinfully delicious cinnamon rolls.

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These are legit, completely from scratch cinnamon rolls, but don’t let that intimidate you.  They are ridiculously easy and have a divine no-knead dough.  I have made this recipe more times than I can count, and the dough always turns out beautifully.  The combination of three leavening agents–yeast, baking powder, and baking soda–helps to make the dough rise to be airy and light without being overly yeasty while still retaining structure.  It’s really quite ingenious.

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Many cinnamon roll recipes tend to call for melted butter for their filling, but I’ve never been a melted butter person.  Call me crazy, but I’ve always felt that the softened butter has lent to a gooier filling.  If you’ve never done just softened butter before, give it a shot and let me know what you think.  Another aspect to this filling that is absolutely critical is the delicious cinnamon sugar that ultimately melts and permeates the baking rolls.  Brown sugar has always been my go-to choice for cinnamon rolls–it posseses a more complex sweetness that hearkens towards warm caramel.  That coupled with a generous tablespoon of cinnamon and a hefty pinch of nutmeg to enhance the cinnamon makes this filling utterly delightful.

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Finally, the glaze.  The traditional is white cream cheese glaze, but that’s rather boring.  This glaze is something far better–maple coffee glaze.  It’s complex and rich and does wonders to elevate the already heavenly rolls.  I have always been a intense lover of maple and it works with the sugar to complicate the sweetness while cutting the bitter edge of the strong coffee.

In short, make these rolls.  Whoever you decide to share them with will love you forever.

CINNAMON ROLLS

These are barely adapted from none other than the Pioneer Woman.  These cinnamon rolls are hands down the best traditional cinnamon rolls ever.  They are so good.  And the glaze is a huge and beautiful improvement from the traditional cream cheese glaze.

Dough:

  • 950 mL / 1 quart whole milk
  • 225 mL / 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 215 grams / 1 cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1.175 kilograms / 8 cups flour plus an extra 150 grams / 1 cup reserved
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt

Sugar filling (one recipe is good for 1/4 of the dough above):

  • 80 grams / 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 250 grams / 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • one large pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Maple glaze (enough for a quarter recipe of the dough, with a bit extra):

  • 230 grams / 8 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 scant tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
  • 20 grams / 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
  • one large pinch kosher salt

To begin the dough, combine the milk, coconut oil, and sugar in a large saucepan.  Heat until steaming, but not boiling, and take off the heat to cool.  While the milk mixture is cooling, weigh the 1.175 kilos of flour into a very large bowl.  Set aside and wait until the milk mixture has cooled enough not to kill the yeast; it should be about 110 degrees F, but check your yeast to be sure.  Once the milk has cooled, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for a minute.  Form a well in the flour and pour in all of the milk and yeast mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the flour and the wet ingredients until fully combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for and hour, or until it is nearly doubled in bulk.  Punch down the dough and add in the reserved flour, baking powder, baking soda, an salt.  Mix until combined and use the dough right away, or chill covered (the dough is easier to work with if it’s chilled for at least an hour).  The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, covered well.

When you’re ready to make some rolls, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 10 x 6 inch pan and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg for the cinnamon sugar filling.  Flour your working surface and flour a rolling pin before pulling off a quarter of the dough (I work with a quarter of the dough at a time).  Roll the dough out into a long and thin rectangle (roughly 18 x 8 inches) that is about 0.25 inch thick.  Spread the 80 grams of butter all over the dough and sprinkle evenly with the sugar.  Pat the sugar down and begin to roll up the dough, lengthwise.  Pinch the seam shut and slice into 1 to 1.5  inch rounds, arranging them in the baking dish.  Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes.  Once risen, pop in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes, until tenderly golden.

While the rolls are baking, whip up the glaze.  Weigh out the powdered sugar into a medium bowl and add in the maple extract, milk, melted butter, coffee, and salt and mix well to combine.  If need be, add a little extra milk to thin it.

The minute the rolls come out of the oven, pour the glaze all over.  Be sure to enrobe all the edges.  Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!

One-quarter of the dough will serve 8 people

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