27 December 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Cinnamon Rolls/ Sticky Buns

The Goofy Family has gone on an intense cooking spree this week, and tonight will be no exception: there will be latkes.

But a few mornings ago, there were cinnamon rolls. Or sticky buns. Or cinnamon buns. Or whatever they are called. Basically, we rolled out a rectangle of yeasted dough, sprinkled cinnamon all over it, rolled the dough into a log, cut it into ten round spirals, let them rise and expand, baked them, and glazed them until they were sticky and mildly sweet. Then we devoured them. Whatever that food is called, that is what we made.  You may comment with your opinion about the proper name in the comments section below.

Maybe you are rolling your eyes and yawning, saying to yourself, Oh No, Self, Not Another Cinnamon Roll Recipe. Yes, I admit one can find endless iterations of this recipe. On the King Arthur Flour website alone I encountered roughly 14 different versions. But what you didn't know about this recipe is that for two days I focused with laser-like intensity on unearthing the absolute best cinnamon rolls recipe in the entire world, one that I could leave in the refrigerator overnight and then immediately upon waking the next morning stick in the oven for the perfect hot decadent breakfast of the century, so as to gently rouse the other denizens with tempting aromas. 

Having never eaten fresh, home-baked cinnamon rolls in my life, I don't know where this obsession came from. But I ran with it and now you will benefit from my research. Because these cinnamon rolls did not disappoint me, with my fevered passion, nor did they disappoint George, a consummate baker and extremely picky eater. They were perfect. They were perfect the first morning I baked them, they were perfect several hours later at room temperature, and they were perfect two days later (today) when I reheated the uneaten rolls. These cinnamon rolls flexibly adapt to your cinnamon-roll-eating needs.

Please check out the original recipe plus the extremely helpful commentary on the King Arthur Flour Website. And do not, under any circumstances, sprinkle sugar into the filling because sugar is hygroscopic and will dry out your cinnamon buns in a matter of hours.


A note about substitutions:
  • We used a bread machine to mix and rise the dough. You can do this by hand the traditional way or use a stand-mixer.
  • We used plain soy milk (Silk brand) but you can use milk.
  • We substituted 1/2 Cup of white whole wheat flour, which required us to add about 3 Tablespoons more soy milk. This imbued the cinnamon rolls with a slight bit more chewiness and staying power. But if you want the rolls to basically evaporate in your mouth, use only all-purpose flour, and you probably won't require the extra milk.
  • We used 3 Tablespoons fresh baked potato innards (I baked a fork-pricked russet potato in the microwave for 5 minutes until tender)*, but if you have 2 Tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 Cup instant potato flakes on hand, you may use that instead.
Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 10-16 rolls, depending on how you roll and cut them.

3 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant/ bread machine/ rapid-rise yeast
3 Tablespoons cooked potato*
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons softened butter
2/3 Cup lukewarm water
1/2 Cup lukewarm soy milk + roughly 3 Tablespoons any temperature

2 teaspoons cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese cinnamon

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 - 3 Tablespoons soy milk

  1. In a bread machine, combine all the dough ingredients except the extra soy milk. Set to the dough cycle. See note on substitutions above if you don't have a bread machine. You want the dough soft and supple, so add the extra tablespoons of soy milk to get it to the exact right consistency.
  2. Allow dough to rise for the rest of the dough cycle, or in a greased container for 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
  3. Gently punch the dough. Transfer it to a work surface covered in wax paper and lightly greased. 
  4. Roll the dough out to roughly a 20 x 12 inch rectangle. Don't worry if it's not exact.
  5. Using a small sieve or tea strainer, sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon evenly over the surface of the dough.
  6. Starting with the long side, roll the dough in a log (don't roll too tightly). Using a sharp knife, mark the log at roughly 1 1/2 inch intervals. With the same sharp knife, slice the dough into buns. You will get roughly 10 to 16 rolls.
  7. Lightly grease 2 or 3 round pans. Cake pans and pie pans do well here. Put the buns into the pans, making sure that they are loosely rolled and that they have at least 1 inch of space between each roll and its neighbor. This space is necessary so that when the rolls expand, they expand horizontally rather than vertically from the center…unless you want cinnamon towers.
  8. Cover the pans with damp towels and allow to rise 60 to 90 minutes until puffy and lookin' good. FOR OVERNIGHT ROLLS: at this point wrap the pans tightly in plastic wrap and stick them in the refrigerator. You will bake them the next morning for 23 to 28 minutes until golden brown. FOR IMMEDIATE ROLLS: You will bake them now for 20 to 23 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake rolls according to the adventure you have chosen in step #8 above.
  10. Immediately brush all the hot rolls with the 2 Tablespoons of melted butter.
  11. TO EAT ALL THE ROLLS IMMEDIATELY OR SAME DAY: Mix together the glaze and brush the glaze over all the hot buns. Serve at once. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  12. TO EAT HALF THE ROLLS TODAY AND HALF SOME OTHER TIME: Mix together half the glaze and brush the glaze over half the rolls. Serve those immediately. Allow the other rolls to cool completely on a rack. Store them in air-tight containers at room temperature for up to a few days later. When you want hot rolls again, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put the rolls in pans, tent them with aluminum foil, and bake for 10 minutes. Mix together the other half of the glaze. When the rolls come out, immediately brush them with the glaze. Serve immediately.

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