In Search of the Perfect Cinnamon Roll

I just finished watching Kings of Pastry (thanks for the suggestion Diane) about the famous French pastry competition that happens every four years called the Meilleur Ouvier de France.  Each of the 16 chefs in the multi day competition were true artisans, coming up with complex and beautiful food.  And their passion and focus was inspiring.  See it.  Its a play instant on Netflix. 

And on to cinnamon rolls. For Easter weekend, I invited myself to a co-worker/friend’s family breakfast in Montpelier, VT.  What to bring? I oscillated between coffee cake and cinnamon rolls.  But considering I have never made a successful batch of soft, tender, chewy cinnamon rolls—I opted for cinnamon rolls, of course. 

Finding the perfect recipe proved challenging.  I am currently away from my cookbook repertoire, although I doubt that I have a good recipe in any of the books I own. Instead, I took to the internet.  I was again reminded of how many food blogs there are in cyber space, but found one helpful: http://spinningsugar.wordpress.com/.  A bit messy and hard to read, but helpful.  The author talks about her/his love of cinnamon rolls like this: “I prefer mine tender and fluffy, the filling sweet and spicy, and a glaze so sinful no one can resist licking the gooey remnants from fingertips.”  BINGO.  Me too!

I also took some advice from my man Alton Brown about letting the dough rise overnight in the frig.

The result?  Amazingly tasty rolls. Soft, chewy and hours later, still tender. 

The dough:
·         2 Tbsp. yeast (dry active)
·         1 cup warm water (115-degrees F.)
·         1 cup granulated sugar, divided
·         1 cup buttermilk
·         1 cup butter
·         2 teaspoons salt
·         2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
·         5-6 cups all-purpose flour
·         6 Tbsp. melted butter

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and set aside to proof.  Should get really bubbly.

In a small saucepan and over VERY low heat, place the milk and butter heating just until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to 100 degrees (F).

I was without my mixer so i mixed everything together with a wooded spoon, starting with the yeast mixture, remaining sugar and eggs.  Mix until blended.  Add the salt, warm buttermilk-butter mixture and 3 cups of flour and mix until smooth, scraping the sides often.  At this point, i added 2 additional cups of flour and mixed with the spoon and then kneaded with my hands for about 10 minutes (You may need to add additional flour.  If so, add only 1/4 cup at a time, trying to add as little as possible).

Remove from the mixing bowl and form the dough into a round.  Place the dough into a lightly-oiled bowl and cover. Set in a warm place until double in bulk.  I left it for a good three hours and it got HUGE.

The Filling:
1 ½ cup packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into a rectangle—my dough was was about 19 by 15 inches. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls. This batch made 17 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish (any kind you like—round, square, rectangle.  Be sure to butter the sides and bottom). Don’t pack them too tight, they expand; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.  [NOTE: i had some great pictures of this step but they are stuck on my camera. i promise the next post will be more pictures, less writing!]

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

The Icing
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

While the rolls are cooling, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

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2 thoughts on “In Search of the Perfect Cinnamon Roll

  1. Congratulations, dear Judy, for your foodgasm site. I did’nt read all, but I can see that you like cooking very much. I would like to live near Montpelier to taste every meal you make Happy are your friends!
    Just one word : write “ouvRier” instead of ouvier. It’s the right word.
    Kisses.
    Gilbert.

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