The Sauce: Vanilla Icing – A glaz-ey smooth vanilla icing with thin consistency. Use a fork to drizzle lines or concentric circles.
‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
Cracked the code
Cracking the code for baking tender, sweet homemade cinnamon rolls wasn’t easy. I’ve been reading recipes, researching, baking, testing cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, orange twists, and maple knots for months. I’m sharing the recipe and the code for great sweet rolls. Last weekend I served a large tray of these cinnamon rolls and orange twists at a Memorial Day Celebration and one guest said, “These are the best homemade cinnamon rolls I’ve ever tasted.”
Here are the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’:
Butter is in. It takes lots of butter in the dough, way more than dinner rolls. You can reduce the butter but the rolls will be bread-ey.
Thin is in. Roll the dough 1/4-inch thin so the cinnamon, sugar and butter are twisting around double the revolutions otherwise you don’t have enough cinnamon running through each roll.
Golden is out. Don’t brown. Extract them from the oven when the dough is cooked through but before they start to brown on the top. Unlike dinner rolls that are beautiful with a golden brown crust, tender creamy-colored cinnamon rolls are tastier when the outside is soft as the inside. They have a circular cinnamon pattern that creates contrasting and characteristic swirls.
A final word about the hours it takes to make cinnamon rolls. I love to plan creative projects while I let the dough rise like writing, painting, designing, playing an instrument, or whatever I’d love to do that day. Take a walk, shop or call a friend. Get lost in a good read. Fill your time with your favorite projects or activities. You’ve got the 2 hour first rise, then around an hour while the cinnamon rolls rise before baking. Set a timer so if you get lost in your creativity the rolls will get the attention they deserve. Then let your imagination flow like a river. Treat yourself and those you love to fresh home-baked Cinnamon Rolls.
Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls
Active Time: 2 Hours 15 minutes | Total Time: 5 Hours | Yield: 16 Rolls
3/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp milk
Special Equipment – large mixing bowl or stand mixer, large oiled bowl, 2 small bowls, 2 8-inch round cake pans or 1 9×13 pan
1 Combine lukewarm milk, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a stand mixer fitted with dough hook or large mixing bowl . Sprinkle yeast and allow to proof for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
2 Meanwhile generously oil a large bowl and set aside. Beat egg in the same bowl used for warming the milk or melting the butter. Add egg and salt to yeast mixture.
3 Stir in flour 1 cup at a time until dough feels slightly sticky adding as much flour as needed. Knead dough in the mixer for about 6 minutes or turn out on a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes.
4 Shape into a ball and place in the large oiled bowl turning once to oil the top. Cover with plastic or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double, about 2 hours.
5 Combine remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl or shaker. Set aside.
6 Oil 2 8-inch cake pans or 1 9×13 baking dish.
7 After dough has risen, divide dough in two even balls and leave one in the covered bowl. Roll the other piece into a rectangle 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface. Leaving 1/2 inch bare on the long side, spread dough with softened butter, about 2-3 teaspoons. Sprinkle evenly with enough cinnamon sugar to cover the dough, about half the mixture. Roll the dough lengthwise into a tight log with the 1/2-inch bare dough on the outside. Slice with a sharp knife or cut with dental floss into eight, 1-inch pieces. Arrange in a buttered pan with room between rolls for rising. Repeat with second dough ball.
8 Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 45-60 minutes.
9 About 20 minutes before the second rise is complete, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
10 Bake rolls until no longer dough-ey but still blond, about 25 minutes. Let cool until warm.
11 Meanwhile whisk powdered sugar, vanilla extract, 2-3 tablespoons milk and stir until smooth. Drizzle over rolls in circles, criss-crosses or lines.
The 1/2-inch bare dough helps the spiral stick together.
To make Orange Rolls, combine 1/3 granulated sugar with zest from 1 orange in exchange for cinnamon sugar. For the icing, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Serve Cinnamon Rolls and Orange Rolls garnished with fresh strawberries.
- Exchange active dry for instant active dry yeast.
Inspiration – Helen Horton
Cook with Sauces
Written by Helen Horton
Recipe Tester for The Washington Post
Photography and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: May 27, 2014