A couple of weeks ago, excited to be using my beautiful green KitchenAid stand mixer, I attempted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Having a warm, gooey cinnamon roll on a Sunday morning with my coffee has been a fantasy of mine for quite some time. Cinnamon rolls, interestingly enough, remind me of when I was 7 years old and went on vacation with my parents to Hawaii (and we left my 4 year old brother at home). Almost every morning we would get these amazing cinnamon rolls, topped with frosting and sliced almonds, and go to the beach to watch the waves. I must still be trying to get a warm and happy place since it seems like winter is never going to end and I thought that making cinnamon rolls would take me there.
Now, I’ve been thinking about these particular cinnamon rolls since I read about them from Molly Wizenberg in Bon Appetit 3 years ago (and yes I still have that magazine in my collection). They sounded delicious and Molly makes it sound so easy.
Well, you may have noticed that I used the verb “attempted.” While not quite a disaster, the cinnamon rolls were not what you would call fantastic. Edible, yes. To die for, no. And certainly did not take me back to that Hawaiian beach when I was 7 years old. I have some theories into what went wrong and I think it has everything to do with not activating the yeast, so the dough failed to rise and as a result the rolls were not light and fluffy. I deleted all photos associated with making them.
I am nothing if not persaverent (I mean, I did make it through 5 1/2 years of graduate school). I was determined to do right by these cinnamon rolls so I tried again this weekend.
I even got the extra-strength cinnamon from Penzey’s.
Heat 1 cup whole milk and 3 T butter to 130-140 degrees.
Instead of using the microwave to warm the milk and melt the butter, as the recipe suggests, I decided to heat them on the stove top and break out my thermometer to make sure that it got to 130 degrees (I think this was my fatal flaw the first time around).
Meanwhile, in my stand mixer I added:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Add the warm milk and butter mixture.
Now add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
Stop adding flour when the dough pulls away from the bowl.
Knead dough for about 8 minutes.
Let rise for until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
You should be able to punch down the dough – I found this to be extremely satisfying.
Roll out dough into an 11″ x 15″ rectangle and lather with butter.
Mix together 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar and it was fabulous) and 2 T cinnamon.
Sprinkle onto dough.
And roll up.
And cut into 3/4 inch rolls. When I make these again (and I will be making these again) I think I would cut them a bit thicker, just as a matter of personal preference.
Place cut side up in a buttered glass baking dish and allow to rise again until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
I like how this photo looks like some sort of face you would see on a totem pole.
Now for the “glaze.” In reality this is actually frosting. Delicious cream cheese frosting.
Start with 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature.
Add 1/4 cup of butter, room temperature.
And 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
And finally 1 cup powdered sugar.
Beat well. And beware of the mess. Powdered sugar might just go flying everywhere.
Now smother your cinnamon rolls with the frosting. And try to eat only one.
So good, you’ll want to lick your plate.
Absolutely worth trying again.
I feel like I am 7 years old again and on the beach…