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Cinnamon Rolls

July 28, 2011

It started out cloudy yesterday so I decided to engage in my favorite cloudy day activity: baking!  Wait, I also like to bake on sunny days, snowy days, hot days, cold days…turns out my favorite activity is baking.  The problem is that if my son and I get bored playing with his toys, my solution is always to get out the mixer and start baking.  It is very dangerous to the diet! (But oh so delicious.)  Plus, I wasn’t sure if I liked the original recipe I planned on sharing this week on my blog, so I had to come up with an alternative.  So you see, baking is simply a work hazard.

Yesterday’s baking endeavor?  Cinnamon rolls!  I had initially tried this recipe a couple of years ago, but ended up being disappointed.  I’m not sure if it was the yeast I was using, whether it didn’t rise in a warm enough place or if the climate was too dry, but they turned out like bricks.  A bit devastating when you put time and effort into something for 3 or 4 hours.  Thankfully, this go round turned out much better and I am excited to say the end product was rather tasty.

Cinnamon Rolls
Yields: 18 Servings

— Rolls —
1 cup Warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
6 tablespoons Butter (melted, divided)
1/3 cup Granulated sugar (divided)
1 package Quick-rise yeast
16 7/8 ounces All purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
1 large Egg lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Cooking spray spray
2/3 cup Brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 tablespoons Ground cinnamon
— Icing —
3 tablespoons Butter (softened)
2 tablespoons Heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup Powdered sugar

1. To prepare rolls, combine milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Add egg and remaining granulated sugar to bowl. Stir in 4.5 ounces (1 cup) flour; let stand 10 minutes.
2. Add 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour and salt to milk mixture; stir until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
3. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into an 18 x 11–inch rectangle. Brush remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Beginning at one long side, roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut dough into 18 (1-inch) slices. Arrange 9 slices, cut sides up, in each of 2 (8-inch) square baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 350°.
5. Uncover rolls. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes in dishes on a wire rack. Turn rolls out onto wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Turn rolls over.
6. To prepare icing, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter and cream; stir with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar; stir until blended. Spread icing over rolls; serve warm.

Kate’s Thoughts

I should provide a disclaimer and warn you that these are incredibly tasty, but a little time consuming to make.  Not only is it a lot of hands on prep, but there is a lot of inactive time while you allow the dough to rise at various intervals.  That’s why they are perfect for a lazy weekend morning or a rainy afternoon.  It doesn’t hurt that I have a little guy who is more than willing to keep me busy while the dough rises.

A couple of things to keep in mind when working with yeast and rising dough:

1. Ensure your yeast is fresh and that the package has not yet expired.

2. If you do not have a food scale, you may find yourself putting too much or too little flour in your dough.  If you have too little, easy peasy: just add more!  But what if your dough ends up too dry?  Add a little ice water to moisten the dough until you reach the proper consistency.

3. Do not overwork the dough.  In the initial steps, you will only knead the dough until it becomes soft and elastic.  The recipe says about 6 minutes, but this may vary depending on your own dough and how hard you knead.  Look for the dough to start to feel smooth and just a little rubbery.

4. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, preferably humid, spot.  My favorite rising location is our garage, but this might not be ideal for all climates. Proper rising temperature makes a big difference!

I found myself wishing I had slightly undercooked the rolls to create a doughier end product, but I ended up leaving them in for close to 25 to ensure the tops were golden enough.  Learn from my experience and stick to 22 minutes or less!

If you have will power and manage not to scarf most of these down as soon as they come out of the oven, they taste great heated up later on.  Microwave them for 10-15 seconds to rewarm the center and melt the icing.  Do not over heat in the microwave or they will become far too chewy.

And last, but certainly not least, I used skim milk for the icing as well and was pleased with the results.  Heavy cream definitely creates a richer, smoother icing, but I didn’t have a chance to run to the grocery store and made do with what I had on hand.  I wish these were faster to make; they are far too tasty hot out of the oven!

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