Monday, December 27, 2010
One of the luxuries of the holidays, at least for me, is getting to do leisurely baking projects, even if something takes three hours on a morning before we can eat it. Who cares? There is coffee, there are books to be read, and snow to watch.
This year Nathaniel wanted cinnamon rolls for his birthday, and so I went off hunting for a good recipe. I wasn't enamored with the one I made back when I worked at a bakery, as it was rather bland. Sticky buns came up because I made them back in 2007 for another Daring Bakers Challenge, but they destroyed my oven and I wasn't anxious for a repeat of that mess. Plus they really do depend on nuts to balance out the sweet, and I was hoping for something more tender.
I ended up just doing a search for "best cinnamon rolls recipe" in Google and found two contenders - Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls and a Cinnabon Copycat Recipe. When I'm going to make a recipe from an internet site for the first time, I take advantage of the reviews. I knew both of these recipes were probably good because over 300 people had reviewed each of them and they still were five stars, which is always a good sign. But I was seeing some trends in the recipes. There were several comments that Alton's recipe was too dense, that they ended up too hard, too browned. I didn't want to risk it, as I really wanted a tender recipe. The reviews with the other recipe mainly took issue with the directions, which were terrible, not even including information proofing the yeast or a second rise, but said that with the correct steps the recipe itself was good. I also didn't want to use margarine, and thought some of the ingredients needed to be clarified.
(Does anyone out there have their own favorite cinnamon rolls recipe? Leave a comment and let me know!)
So with no further ado, here is the recipe that I used. The ingredients come from the recipe on Food.com, but the directions are mine.
Holiday Cinnamon Rolls
* 1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
* 1 cup warm milk
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 4 cups flour
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
* 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature (NOT melted)
* 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
* 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. In a small bowl, heat milk until pleasantly warm, not hot. Sprinkle yeast over and let dissolve, about five minutes. The mixture can be stirred if some of the yeast on top isn't mixing in. You want to see it become a little gooey, maybe with a few bubbles on the sides, to make sure the yeast is working.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and mix briefly. Add in melted butter, milk and yeast mixture, and eggs. Mix with wooden spoon or paddle mixer until incorporated. Switch to kneading hook or remove mixture to a floured surface.
3. Knead dough for 5-8 minutes by hand, or in a mixer at low speed for 5 minutes. Dough should be soft but not sticky, and hold an impression when it is poked.
4. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough inside, first covering the top in the oil. Cover the bowl lightly and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
5. Punch dough down. Roll out to a rectangle, about 21-24 inches by 16 inches. Spread softened butter out on dough. Cover entire surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, except for the last inch along a long side. It will be pretty thick, use all of it and pat it down evenly.
6. Roll tightly from the long side that has filling to the edge, ending with the piece just with butter, and use that to seal the tube. Rest it on this part to slice.
7. Slice 1-inch rounds, discarding the very ends if desired. Place in greased pans - one 9x13 or 3 cake rounds, leaving room for dough to expand. At this point the dough can be covered and chilled overnight, and taken out for an hour before baking. If you wish to bake immediately, cover and let rise until double or at least poofy, 1.5-2 hours. Remove the covering before baking!
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Check after 10 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the rolls, you will probably need 5-10 more minutes. I like to take mine out when they are just getting to be golden brown on top and are barely cooked through inside (but not doughy).
9. While they are baking, mix the icing together until smooth. Spread on rolls immediately when they come out of the oven. Serve hot!
at 3:26 PM