I love this week between Christmas and New Years. It's a short week because of the holiday, and it's quiet because most people are on vacation. The train is less crowded in the mornings, there are fewer people on the road, and there just seems to be a little bit more time in the day to do things like make your own cinnamon rolls.
Ever since getting the Bread Baker's Apprentice (remember its first appearance?), I've been eying these cinnamon rolls. But unlike the cinnamon rolls you buy in a can, roll out of bed and dump into a pan before the sleep is out of your eyes, these take a little more than 30 minutes to make. And by a little more, I mean a lot more. This is a serious undertaking, people. Not because of the labor involved (these are really no sweat!) but because of the time. Like all good breads, these rolls have to rise for 3 hours.
How is anyone supposed to make these for breakfast without waking up at an unholy hour?! Bakers lead crazy lives, I tell you! So I think I figured out a way to make them and have them ready for breakfast, but not lose out on sleep. Traditionally, you make the dough, let it rise for 2 hours, then shape the rolls and let them proof for 90 minutes. But instead of waking up 4 hours early, I made the rolls the night before, then instead of letting them proof, I put them on a pan and into the refrigerator overnight. I set my alarm for 5am, rolled out of bed and took the pan out of the fridge, then immediately went back to bed for 3 hours. (The rolls now need 3-4 hours to proof because they were chilling in the fridge all night). So when it came time to actually wake up for the day, the rolls were ready to put in the oven!
Yes, I wanted to kill myself when my alarm went off at 5am, but I was only awake for about 2 minutes, so really, it wasn't bad at all. And these cinnamon rolls are totally worth the slightly interrupted sleep. No matter how you decide to make them, please make them. I'm never buying cinnamon rolls in a can again!
from the Bread Baker's Apprentice
makes 8-12 large cinnamon rolls
- 6 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 5 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 3 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 pkg active dry yeast (prepared as directed on package)
- 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 c. whole milk at room temperature
- 1/2 c. cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tbsp. sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon)
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. of orange extract (or vanilla, lemon, or rum extract...whatever flavor you want!)
- 6 tbsp to 1/2 c. warm whole milk
- Cream together the sugar, salt and butter
- Whip in the egg and lemon juice until smooth
- Add the flour, yeast and milk
- Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball
- Switch to dough hook and increase speed to medium, mixing for about 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes) until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may need to add a little flour or water during the process to get this texture.
- Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Mist the counter with oil, then transfer the dough to the counter.
- Roll dough into a large rectangle about 2/3 inch thick (about 14 inches wide x 12 inches long). Do not roll the dough too thin!!
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough
- Roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll
- With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces about 1 3/4 inch thick
- Line one sheet pan with parchment paper
- Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so they aren't touching, but are still close to one another
- Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes. OR retard the shaped buns in the fridge for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the fridge 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F with the oven rack on the middle shelf
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown
- Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes then streak with white glaze across the tops while the buns are warm but not too hot
- Sift powdered sugar into a large bowl
- Add the 1 tsp. extract and slowly add warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved (add only as much milk as needed to make a thick, smooth paste)
- Dip a fork into the glaze and then let the glaze drip off the fork onto the cinnamon rolls in streaks.