Nowadays breakfast is sometimes a slice of toast, yogurt with granola, or oatmeal, and more often than not just a cup of strong coffee. Growing up my family didn’t have very many elaborate breakfasts, and although we were required to have dinner together every night, breakfast was a come-as-you-awaken sort of deal. When I go home to visit my folks these days, it’s still the same deal. Living on my own, it’s the same deal.
Unlike many families my dad was the one in charge of breakfast in our household, also assuming the roles of lunch packer, sandwich maker, waker-upper, and school chauffeur when we were growing up. He was the only one in our house that was able to get out of bed at 6am each morning every day of the week. On the weekends when there was no school and no early morning piano lessons, if we were out of bagels or croissants he would flip open the Joy of Cooking and make a batch of pancakes, which is to this day one of my favorite olfactory memories growing up.
This weekend, I thought of my dad and his pancakes as I looked up a recipe for cinnamon buns. I was inspired…what was I inspired by? I think I saw something online about cinnamon rolls, and knew I had all the ingredients in the pantry [flour (check), sugar (check), yeast (check), cinnamon (check) Yes!] So I felt inspired (which in cooking terms, also means I had a craving…), but I didn’t have much after that. We never had these growing up- my dad never made them, we never asked for them. Not as if something this sweet and buttery would have made it to our kitchen table, anyway. As I was scouring the internet for the perfect recipe for cinnamon rolls, I desperately wished that I had a frame of reference- a smell, a secret ingredient, a method of preparation- to refer to, as I would with a recipe for pancakes. But I didn’t, and relying on my own kitchen gumption, I decided to mash-up two different recipes, roll up my sleeves, and see if I could make these cinnamon rolls work. Intending to make a mere dozen, I ended up producing a whopping three dozen cinnamon rolls. But don’t worry, two dozen were gone by Saturday evening thanks to sweet-loving friends (sweet, loving friends?).
So, here’s my take on cinnamon rolls. It’s the first time in awhile that I wasn’t completely sure I was going to have success with a recipe. Thankfully, it wasn’t the first time that I didn’t have success with a recipe.
In an effort to keep all my lovely readers and friends thin, here is my adapted recipe, halved, and adapted a little more.
adapted from the Smitten Kitchen and Homesick Texan recipes
For the dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 pkg. Active Dry Yeast
- 3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp. Bailey’s liqeur
- 1 Tbsp. fresh brewed coffee
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Mix the milk, butter and sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugar melt. Turn off the range and allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 30 minutes.
- When the mixture is warm (you can stick your finger in to test it out), stir in the yeast. Let this sit for a minute.
- Add 4 cups of flour incrementally, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go along to make sure the liquid is incorporated nicely. Mix in one egg. Cover with a lid, and let this sit for 1 hour.
- After an hour, mix the remaining 1/2 flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Incorporate into the batter, turn onto a floured surface and knead a few times until dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. Cover with a tea towel and let this rest for another 20 minutes.
- While the dough sits, mix filling, incorporating the brown sugar and cinamon.
- Making sure the surface is still adaquately floured, roll out dough to about 11×16 inches, the dough should be at least 1/4-1/2 in thick. Spread the room temperature butter on the rectangular piece of dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border on the three sides closest to you. Pour the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter, creating a thin, even layer, if necessary spreading with your hands.
- Starting at the longer edge furthest from you, roll the dough inwards, towards your body, pressing and tucking with a bit of pressure to make sure the roll sticks to itself.With the seam side down, cut the rolled log into ~3/4 inch slices.
- Brush two baking dishes with butter, and arrange the rolls about 1 inch apart on the dishes. Let rolls rise for another 30 minutes (a lot of rising, I know!). Preheat oven to 375degrees
- Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, or until tops are golden. It’s best to bake these on the top rack, so the bottoms don’t get too browned and crisp.
- Remove from oven, and invert onto a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Once relatively cool to handle, flip rolls up and glaze. (To make glaze: combine all ingredients, stir until smooth)
yield: between 12-16 cinnamon rolls
Yes, these looked as good as they tasted. They should have, with the amounts of butter and sugar. Like the pancakes my dad made, I hope one day I’ll perfect this recipe so my kids will have something to talk about.