Roll Me Up: Cinnamon Roll Tutorial

I love making cinnamon rolls at home. Sure the process is a little time-consuming, but the endless hours spent rolling and waiting for the dough to rise is definitely worth it. Nothing can beat a hot and puffy cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven. The sweet aroma of cinnamon alone will make you a cooking rock star within minutes, with your friends and family swooning and falling to their knees. I know that working with yeast can sound intimidating for a lot of people, but after following this tutorial, I can assure you that breakfast breads will no longer be a menace in the kitchen.

Recipe Tutorial: Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Adapted slightly from Food and Wine

Makes about 24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened

Method:

  1. In a small, microwave-safe bowl or glass, microwave the milk at 30 second intervals until it is warm but not hot. Stir in the yeast and pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Foaming is a sign that the yeast has activated, and if you miss this step, your cinnamon rolls will never rise.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the 1 stick of the butter with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt at a medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and beat in 2 cups of the flour. Then beat in the warm milk mixture. Be sure to scrape any of the yeast that may be sitting in the bottom of the glass/bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Gradually add the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour and mix at a medium speed till a sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough into a large, well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to stand in a warm, draftless place (I used the inside of the oven) until it has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Cut the dough into two portions. Roll each portion into a 14X14 inch square, about 1/4 inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling-pin and then unroll it onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Transfer the 2 sheets of dough to the freezer and freeze for about 15 minutes, till the dough is well chilled, but still pliable.
  6. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, blend the remaining stick of butter with the dark brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  7. Remove the sheets of dough from the freezer. If the edges of your dough sheets are jagged or uneven, trim them so that you have a neat square. Then spread each sheet with half of the cinnamon butter.
  8. Starting from one of the edges, tightly roll up the dough. Repeat with the other dough sheet. Transfer the dough log to the freezer to freeze for 20 minutes, until they are very cold.
  9. Grease and line a 9X13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Slice the logs into slices that are about 1-inch thick. Lay them in the pan next to each other, with no space between each roll. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm place until risen and puffy, about 1 hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic from the rolls and bake them for about 40 minutes, until golden and risen. Let them stand for at least 5-10 minutes, before removing from the pan.
  11. To make the glaze, beat together the cream cheese and 6 tablespoons of butter with the powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add a splash of milk to thin it out a bit. Spread the glaze evenly over the cinnamon rolls.

Cooking Notes:

  • As I was trimming out my sheets of dough to make them even squares, I rolled out the scraps and made nutella rolls with them! They are practically the same thing, except for the fact that the cinnamon butter is replaced with a thick and luscious layer of NUTELLA. It was really, really yum!
  • They are of course many other variations you can make. You could stir in some chopped nuts into the filling or replace the cinnamon butter with frozen fruit, such as in these fabulous raspberry rolls.
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