Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

As you can see, these are not your every-day breakfast, but they are good for the occasional decadently indulgent weekend, even if I forgot to snap photos of them glazed.  I LOVE cinnamon rolls.  Unfortunately, it's surprisingly hard to find a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth basic recipe that is feasible to do.  I don't know if it's just because people buy cinnamon rolls now-a-days, or if it's because coffee cake has occupied the field, or what, but I finally settled on a recipe that is both practical and feasible. 

The trick to these cinnamon rolls is that you make them the night before.  They still have to rise in the morning, but the timing is such that it is not impractical.  I first made these the night before my graduation from law school.  My mother spent the night, naturally grumbling about how she could just run to the store and pick up a can of them so I wouldn't have to be using the stand mixer at 11:00 p.m. when she was trying to sleep.  My father and sisters were coming up no later than 7:30 a.m. the next morning, and if I were them, I would want coffee and hot delicious breakfast waiting, not from a refrigerated can.  They got such pampering.  Unfortunately, due to a dress snafu (who knew bloating could cause one to go up an entire dress-size?), I only got one bite before I had to run out the door to make it to the Lawn.  While standing around waiting for the ceremony to begin, I probably should have been reflecting on how far I'd come.  Instead, all I could think about was the deliciousness my family was enjoying without me. 

I was determined to make these again, so that I might actually get to eat them.  Fortunately, while house and dog sitting for my mother last month, I scheduled a puppy play date with a friend.  I came bearing cinnamon rolls, she made coffee cake, and we had a lovely brunch while the dogs played in her backyard. 

The recipe is originally borrowed from Our Best Bites.  I changed a few of the proportions for both ease of cooking and taste.  Her dental floss trick for cutting them proved to be invaluable.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

1 package active dry yeast (about 1 Tbsp.)
1/2 c. warm water (105 F)
4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In the bowl of the stand mixer, pour the water and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and foamy.  Whisk (by hand) until smooth, and whisk in 1/2 cup flour.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let the mixture stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes.  I usually set a pan of hot water on the counter, place a wire cooling rack perpendicular to the 9x13 pan, and place the bowl on top of the rack. 

Attach the mixer bowl to the stand mixer. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and stick of softened butter.  Add the remaining 4 cups of flour.  With the dough hook, knead the dough until it is smooth, for about 10-12 minutes.  Set a timer.  You will want to stop mixing before that because the dough briefly comes together.  Then you will think it will never come together as it starts sticking to the sides of the bowl again.  But somewhere around 11 minutes and 30 seconds, the dough magically stops sticking to the sides of the bowl and comes together in a smooth, supple ball that you can tell even by looking at it is going to produce tender and airy rolls. 

Grease (or Pam) a large glass bowl.  Pull and tuck the dough into a ball, place it upside-down in the bowl, and then flip the dough so that the top is now greased.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap (you may want to give the underside of the plastic wrap a quick spray too), and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.  I use the same wire rack over a pan of hot water trick as above, occasionally replacing the water when it cools. 

When the dough is nearly doubled, start making your filling.  In a bowl, beat on medium speed the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until fluffy and combined, about 1 minute.  You will find that it is the consistency of a thick (and grainy) paste. 

Next, butter your pan.  I have used a 9x13, a 9 inch tart pan combined with a 9x9 pan, and several oval casserole dishes.  Use whatever you think will best hold 10-15 cinnamon rolls in the way you want to serve them. 

Punch down your dough, and put it on a large floured work surface.  I frequently use a floured silicone mat or the back of a placement.  Roll the dough out (I found that a French-style silicone rolling pin is most effective) into a 10x15 rectangle.  Using a spatula, glop the filling onto the dough and spread it out to the edges.  Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise. 

Using the dental floss tip from Our Best Bites here, slice your rolls into appropriate sizes, depending on your audience and the number you intend to bake.  Arrange the slices in your pan (or pans, as the case may be).  Brush the tops with the melted butter.  You may want to sprinkle a little extra cinnamon over the top (personal preference).  Cover your pans with plastic wrap (grease the underside first) and let rise in the fridge overnight. 

In the morning, take the pans out of the fridge and let rise in a warm spot (the back of the preheating oven, or the wire rack over your pan of warm water) for about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  While they are cooling in the pan, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and then pour over your rolls.  Enjoy!

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