cinnamon buns

by Stacy

One of the first food photos I took was of cinnamon rolls.

hot buns!

Those are the Peter Reinhardt recipe, which is delicious, but I will tweak slightly next time. It’s a two-day recipe, which is really good, but takes planning. On the other hand, when your husband tells you at 9pm that he needs to bring breakfast snacks for a meeting for about eight people tomorrow morning and he leaves for work at 6:30am, a two-day recipe isn’t going to cut it. This one will, though.

Most of the photos are from the first time I made them, but I made a few minor adjustments this time which I will note in the recipe. The first time I made the cream cheese frosting from the recipe, but last night I just made a simple glaze. The cream cheese frosting was good, but a bit rich for me. The glaze is probably too sweet for some people, though, so choose which suits you best!

I really enjoy working with enriched egg doughs. They’ve just got such a nice feeling to them! I started the mixing in my Kitchen Aid, kneaded by hand for a bit, and then finished it up in the mixer.

cinnamon roll dough rising

After the initial rising period, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 11×15. Spread it with room-temperature butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top of that, leaving a one-inch edge.

rolled out doughbuttered dough
cinnamon and sugar mixturecinnamon mixture spread on dough

Starting at the long edge, roll the dough up carefully, keeping it rolled as tightly as possible. Pinch the seam closed and place the log seam-side down. Slice into 18 pieces using a sharp serrated knife, each slice about 1″ thick. Place the rolls into two pans (8″x8″ square and 9″ rounds work best), almost touching. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise another 45 minutes or so until doubled again.

cinnamon rolls, second riseom nom nom

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. What I did not do the first time but did the second time and really liked was adding a small pan on the lower oven rack. When the rolls are finished with the second rise, place the pan(s) in the oven, and pour 1 cup of boiling water into the pan on the lower rack. The steam prevents a crust from forming on the top of the rolls and allows them a greater “spring” in the oven. Bake 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. Immediately turn out of pan and let cool for 10 minutes.

turned out of the pan

The first batch had too much (!) filling, so it dripped all over everything. This time, I reduced both amounts and thought there was still plenty of flavor without the mess.

Meanwhile, you have two frosting options! Less sweet choice: cream cheese frosting. Faster option: Glaze.
The cream cheese frosting is good, but very rich.

cream cheese frostingcream cheese frosting

With cream cheese frosting, no steam:
finished roll

With glaze and steam:
glazed cinnamon roll

Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008, via Smitten Kitchen
Makes 18 buns.

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extra, maple flavoring, or 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of salt
~ 2 tablespoons milk

For dough: Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, then add milk and warm to 120°F to 130°F, or combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup of the flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat 3 minutes on low speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky. If sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes (or use a dough hook).

Form dough into ball. Lightly oil large bowl, add dough to bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel. Let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in bowl.

Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut remaining dough crosswise with sharp serrated knife into 18 equal slices (each about 3/4 to 1 inch wide).

Grease two 8-inch square glass baking dishes (metal is fine, too, or a 9 -inch round) with butter or nonstick spray. Divide rolls evenly between baking dishes with almost no space between rolls. Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Put a shallow pan on the bottom rack. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into that pan when placing rolls in the oven. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For cream cheese frosting: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For glaze: Combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1.5 cups powdered sugar in a stand mixer and beat until pebbly. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and (optional) 1/2 tsp either orange extract or maple extract (can substitute 1 tablespoon maple syrup). Mix well. Add 1 tablespoon milk and beat, increasing speed to medium. Add a little more milk until glaze is smooth and desired consistency is achieved. Drizzle on warm rolls with a fork, or use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off for more precise application.

On the left, one roll with cream cheese frosting. On the right, one pan of rolls with maple glaze.

even betterfreshly-glazed cinnamon rolls

You can refrigerate or freeze the dough before assembly, or even in the pans. Just allow the dough to reach room temperature before baking, and make sure to use the steam. Also, invite some friends over to ensure that you don’t eat them all yourself.

Or, send them to work with your husband and hear from his coworkers how they turned out.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

tater1112 May 31, 2009 at 9:40 am

Interestingly, this morning I am making cinnamon rolls for Reid to take to work, since they’re working so hard on this paper, and he loves cinnamon rolls. He also loves cream cheese frosting, but we don’t have any cream cheese. :( I usually find glazes too sweet – they’re about to go in the oven, and I should make a decision soon. Maybe some with glaze and some without…

Here’s the recipe I used (well, I halved it, and we still have 4 pans of rolls ready to go in)


stacy May 31, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Another friend suggested the PW recipe, but it terrifies me in both yield and amount of butter. I like cinnamon rolls enough that I want to be able to eat two, and while I am sure I would eat two of those, I think I would feel much more guilty about it! I usually make half-recipes, too.


tater1112 May 31, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I think the excessive butter was unnecessary (never thought I’d type those words!). It was actually pretty hard to spread and roll, because it was melted. Next time I’ll probably do a dryer filling. But they did turn out well – I was glad to have read about your hot water trick before putting them in the oven.

I also originally was going to say that your cinnamon rolls are not only better photographed than anything I could do, they’re also more photogenic. Mine came out sort of squished. But still tasty. :) It seems to have made Reid happy, at any rate, and I liked them more than I usually like cinnamon rolls.

Also, what kind of wacky recipe that I used involves yeast, baking soda, and baking powder? So strange….


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: