Today is all about just-back-from-vacation crazy-face business. Or at least it was this morning, because clearly (being myself) I worked like a frenetic psychopath for a few hours, completing everything I needed to do, to ultimately ensure that I’m bored by 2pm. Oh me.
And in light of that, I bring you a slightly late but extremely delicious Cake of the Week post about Cinnamon Rolls. Because I absolutely adore cinnamon rolls. They’re the perfect balance of yeasty light roll and sweet ooey-gooey cream cheese frosting. And these ones have a little nutty secret inside – chopped Sugar-and-Spice Candied Almonds and Pecans (made by Sister1 and Geoff). Because when in doubt, add nuts. (That sounds dirty, but really it’s not!)
Cinnamon rolls have been a favorite of mine for a long time. Does anyone remember Cini-Minis at Burger King? They came in boxes of four with a little tub of frosting for dipping. Can we say elementary schooler’s road-trip heaven??? I’m happy to inform you that since those most sticky and glorious high-fructose and Lord-knows-what-else days, my tastes have slightly matured. And for Christmas morning this year, I made my own cinnamon rolls for the first time ever.
I made the overnight version, since sunlight and warmth (necessary for rising the dough) were sadly lacking in Petaluma this Christmas. I made the rolls on Christmas Eve. First thing the next morning I watched some Christmas cartoons in front of this:
When everyone was finally up and ready, we opened our stocking presents before preparing breakfast. The dough had barely risen, and I’ll admit, I was worried. But then the yeast worked its magic, and they turned out perfectly!
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (from Alton Brown)
• 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
• 1 large whole egg, room temperature
• 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
• 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
• 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
• 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
• 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• Vegetable oil or cooking spray
• 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch salt
• 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
• 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) I used Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts from Smitten Kitchen
• 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover with a dishtowel and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (I put my bowl of dough under a desk light for extra warmth.)
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish (do not skimp - these rolls are sticky!). 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 an 18 by 12-inch rectangle.
Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. If using, sprinkle with nuts.
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; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned to its lowest setting. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Once the oven heats up, turn it off. 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, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.
While the rolls are cooling slightly, 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.