Happy Christmas! I just spent the morning baking off some cinnamon rolls for a friend who’s in town. I can’t convey the joy I feel seeing an old friend, which of course is making me cry. In a lifestyle where people come and go and family and friends are far away, I get to see a friend who I’ve known for over ten years. Which isn’t even that long, but it is in my world. Please don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some new friends who are a permanent part of my life now. I love them dearly and I’m so grateful that I met them. But, it’s so nice to see old friends too. It’s making my Christmas.
Jenn is in town just a few more days for her family reunion. We’ve already seen each other three times in her short stay and we’re planning a lunch together before she leaves.
Every Christmas I make cinnamon rolls with some bacon and sausage for breakfast. Because I’m a good Jewish girl. Hehehe. What can I say? This is the one Christmas tradition I’ve held on to from growing up. I’ve tried numerous cinnamon roll recipes over the years, and so far this one – of course suggested by Ali is the best one I’ve tried. (I really want to try another one with pecans, but that would elicit protests from the men/boys in my life.)
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast) – I use instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray or grapeseed oil
- 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (or the leftover 5 T from the stick used in the dough)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. [I didn’t require any extra.] Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball. – This took me 5 minutes in the standing mixer using the dough hook attachment. I pressed on the dough, it left a print but slowly came back, so I judged it done.
- Lightly oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. – I follow Ali’s bread rising advice where I preheat the oven for one minute, then turn it off and allow my rolls or bread to rise in the slightly warm oven.
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
- Punch down dough. [I never punch down dough, I’m gentle and want airy brioch-y dough.] Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. (I roll the rolls towards me snuggly to keep the filling inside.) With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
- Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. – I don’t have glass baking dishes that size, so I divided the dough into two pie pans, well buttered. I wanted to keep using glass since metal cooks more darkly. – Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel.
- At this point I put the rolls in the refrigerator to be baked off tomorrow morning. If you do this, take the rolls out at least 1 hour before baking to come to room temperature and rise again. Truthfully, depending on how cold your kitchen is, the time will vary. (It has been different in each location I’ve made them, but 1 hr is a decent place to start.)
- If doing this the same day, let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
- Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. (Admittedly, it annoys me that the glaze is yellow-y because of the butter as opposed to bright white.) Serve warm or at room temperature – of course, I think hot out of the oven is best.