Cinnamon Rolls and Buns
When the rainy, chilled Autumn weather arrives (as it did this morning in North Texas), every fiber of my being cries out for one of my favorite childhood delights: Cinnamon Rolls. 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. I offer two versions below, one the old-fashioned style using yeast and requiring several hours to bring to fruition that absolutely cannot be equaled in terms of taste and texture, and the other an outstanding quick-rise bun that takes very little time to make and is exquisitely delicious. Again and as always, these recipes are tried and true over countless times.
Yeast-Based Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe creates a very, very light and fluffy roll that is the standard by which all cinnamon rolls are judged by me. These rolls have greeted my family on every Christmas Eve morning since I have had a family (some 25 years). The roll is slightly sweet and compliments the filling nicely, which may or may not include nuts, depending upon your preference. The less flour you work into the dough during kneading, the better and softer this roll will be in the end. Without exaggeration, these are outstanding!
2 Tbsp. yeast (I use Saf-Instant) (Yes, 2 Tbsp.!)
1 cup warm water (115-degrees F.)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup milk
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
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (F), with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Butter well as 13-by-9 inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and set aside to proof until 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).
In your stand mixer bowl using your paddle, mix together the yeast mixture, remaining sugar and eggs at low speed until blended. Add the salt, warm milk-butter mixture and 3 cups of flour and mix on medium speed until smooth, scraping the sides often. Change over to your dough hook and add 2 additional cups of flour and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and remains free from the sides of the bowl (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, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare your filling and glaze (below).
Punch down dough and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, to a 12-by-24-inch rectangle. Brush the rectangle liberally with melted butter, but leave 1/2 inch of dough uncoated along one long side (the top).
Add filling onto the dough and spread evenly to one long and two short edges of the rectangle, but leaving 1/2 inch of bare along the second long “top” side. Beginning with the long end with the filling spread to the edge, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam along the uncovered 1/2 inch long side (top) against the back of the roll to seal. Next, cut into 1-1/2 inch rounds using a sharp serrated knife.
Place the individual rolls into a well-buttered 9×13-inch baking pan and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour). Brush tops gently with melted butter, then bake in a preheated 350-degree (F) oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Remove to a wire rack, cool slightly (5-7 minutes) and spread generously with glaze.
The Cinnamon Roll Filling
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Combine the sugars, spices and salt in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add nuts and stir until well distributed. Set aside.
The Cinnamon Roll Glaze
8 ounces softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 Tbsp. whipping cream
1 cup sifted Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla
1 pinch of table salt
While the dough is rising, combine all ingredients into your mixing bowl and blend together at low speed until combined. Then raise your speed to high and mix until the glaze is completely smooth (about 2 minutes). Pour into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Quick and Delicious Cinnamon Buns
Please do me (and you) a huge favor and cease buying those cans of chemical-laden disgusting facsimiles of cinnamon buns. This recipe is easy, quick and SO much better. Even a bread snob like me enjoys the delicious, tender buns that come from this, a variation on cream biscuits. You’ll never go back to the cans again! Time needed from measuring to eating is 45 minutes!
1 Tbsp. melted butter (for greasing the baking pan)
2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour (plus about 1/8 cup for dusting the work surface)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F) and place rack in the middle of the oven. Coat a 9-inch round nonstick cake pan with the 1 Tbsp. melted butter and brush up the sides.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter until well blended.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is just absorbed (the stuff will look very rough and lumpy) (about 30 seconds). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until the lumps are gone and the dough is smooth.
Form the dough into a 12-by-9 inch rectangle. Brush the dough liberally with about 2 Tbsp. of melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with the filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough at one long edge uncoated. Press the filling firmly into the dough. Then roll into a long roll, pinching the seam at the long, uncoated edge to seal. (You will need to use a dough scraper or metal spatula to free the dough from the work surface to roll.
Cut the roll “log” into 1-inch rounds and place into your buttered cake pan (1 in center, 7 around the perimeter). Brush the tops liberally with melted butter.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. When done, invert the cake pan onto a plate to remove the cooked rolls and transfer the rolls onto a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before icing.
The Cinnamon Bun Filling
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I also sometimes add this to my roll filling)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Combine the sugars, spices and salt in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
The Cinnamon Bun Icing
2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
While the buns are cooling on the rack. place a good sized sheet of parchment paper on your work surface (for easy cleanup) and place the rack of rolls on the paper. Whisk together the cream cheese and buttermilk until smooth, then sift the confectioners sugar over the mixture. Whisk for another 30 seconds or so until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture completely smooth. Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns and serve immediately.