I’ve posted how to make basic pastry dough in a previous post, with similar directions, but straight up, cinnamon rolls need their own post.
There is nothing like a fresh cinnamon roll to perk you up, whether out of bed in the morning or, at my preferred time, at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon with a fresh, hot cup of coffee or tea. If you’ve got holiday guests, or just want to have cinnamon rolls hanging around your house making everything smell the best, I’ve got a recipe for you.
Cinnamon rolls are simple and have but a few ingredients, which makes them deceptively “easy.” However, there are plenty of places where you might want to take shortcuts (say, in rising times and ingredient quality) that will result in some seriously mediocre cinnamon rolls. Finding the right consistency for your dough also takes some practice, and changes in the weather, temperature, and your baking environment as a whole can have a big impact on the size and quality of your rolls.
All this is to say, do them right with the best stuff you can find, and practice, practice, practice. Even a mediocre or ugly cinnamon roll baked in your oven is still a cinnamon roll, and isn’t popped out of a can.
My main pieces of advice, especially working with pastry dough:
- Pay attention to and heed the rest and rise steps and times. You may be tempted to skip dough resting, or cut your rise time, especially in the winter when your kitchen is likely to be colder and, therefore, the rise will take up to twice as long as the summer. However, skipping the dough resting step often results in tough, dry pastry dough, and skipping or shortening a rise results in flatter, less fluffy rolls. Boo on you.
- Add as little flour as possible to the dough. I have measurements in cups, but I always do my flour measurements by feel rather than numbers, since the weather, y’know, changes, and humidity makes a big difference in texture and necessary flour. Pay more attention to how well your dough stirs and shapes than any numerical measurement.
- Keep the sugar to a minimum. You can always sweeten your rolls with more icing.
- For best taste results, use freshly ground cinnamon. The preground stuff is fine, but have you had a cinnamon roll with fresh cinnamon? It’s mindblowing.
You can ice your rolls with a simple icing of confectioner’s sugar and water, flavor that icing with a little vanilla extract, or even make a cream cheese icing, if that’s your bag. You can even leave them unfrosted, or drizzle with honey for a different flavor altogether. You do you. Just keep ‘em fluffy.
Ready to bake? Let’s make some cinnamon rolls, awwww yiss.
For best results, use freshly ground cinnamon, and eat warm.
you will need:
- 4 ½ tsp dried yeast
- ½ c warm water
- 1 ½ c whole milk, warmed
- ½ c softened butter
- ½ c sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 5 ½ – 6 ½ c all-purpose flour For the filling:
- ½ c very soft butter
- ½ c white sugar
- 2-3 tbsp ground cinnamon For the icing:
- 2 c powdered sugar
- ¼ c water
- ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Stir in milk, butter, sugar, salt, and eggs, and mix well.
- Add the flour, ½-1 cup at a time, beating well with each addition, until the mixture cannot readily absorb more flour and it becomes hard to stir. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- If hand-kneading, turn dough out onto a lightly-floured countertop, and knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. (A bench scraper is your friend here.) You can also knead the dough in your mixer using a dough hook, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl. Grease a large clean bowl, form the dough into a smooth ball, and place the dough into the greased bowl, smooth side up. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured or greased surface. Split dough into two even pieces. Roll one piece of dough out into a rectangle about 18 inches long and 8-10 inches wide. Spread half of the softened butter evenly onto the dough, leaving about 1 inch of space on the edges. Sprinkle with ¼ c sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Roll the dough from the long edge so you’re left with a long spiraled log. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces (I cut from the middle, then cut those pieces in half, then cut those pieces into 3 even pieces) and place into a 9×13 inch metal baking pan or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. (The rolls should get friendly and touch each other by the time their rise is done. Ooh la la!)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. You can either turn them out onto a serving plate and ice them, or serve them straight from the pan.
- To make the icing: sift powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add vanilla (if using), then water, 1 tablespoon at the time, until you get your desired consistency (I like mine just barely pourable and still a little thick, but you do you). Drizzle over rolls while they’re still warm.