Hello + happy weekend!
I've got a fun weekend recipe for you, so if you've got a sweet tooth and you're ready to attempt your most domestic (and also epic) baking adventure of all time, continue reading..
I'm a big fan of tradition.
In fact, I love the idea of tradition so much that when Michael and I got married we sat down and made a list of festivities and traditions from our childhood (PLUS several newly imagined ones) that we wanted to be a big part of our new lives as a married couple.
One of the things that was really important to me is that we learn to celebrate each other really well, especially on birthdays.
One year I had the idea of a birthday brunch, and it really stuck. The menu is always different, but the one item that always makes it into one of our brunches is some sort of cinnamon-y sweet. We've experimented with cinnamon toast, cinnamon donuts, and even churros. But the ultimate winner turned out to be a homemade cinnamon roll.
I started with 3 different recipes and sort of combined and tweaked until it was perfectly tasty. Now I'll whip these out for any day that needs a little pep in its step.
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
Plenty of cinnamon
3 sticks butter, melted
2 bags powdered sugar
1 stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 cups hot water
BROWN BUTTER CINNAMON ROLLS
*yields between 2-4 dozen, total time: 3-4 hours
8 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup
2 packets dry active yeast
1 qt. whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 heaping tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp salt
16 oz. cream cheese
1. SCALD THE MILK
In a large stock pot, combine milk, oil & 1 cup sugar. “Scald” the milk by heating on medium-low until just below a boil, stirring frequently. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and let cool for about an hour, stirring occasionally to speed up the process. When the milk has cooled down to lukewarm, sprinkle in the yeast evenly cover the surface and let sit there for about 2 minutes.
A very important baking note: DON'T ADD YEAST TO HOT MILK. Yeast is a living thing that needs a comfy warm environment in order to rise. If you put it into something too hot, it will die and the bread won’t rise. A good test for temperature is to stick your finger into the liquid and if you can comfortably keep your hand there, then the yeast will be fine. Make sure to touch near the bottom of the pan where a lot of the heat is held.
2. Make the dough
This is a two-step process. (step one) While the milk mixture is cooling, measure and sift out 9 cups of flour. Then add 8 cups of the flour on top of the yeast and stir until combined. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough sit out at room temperature for an hour. (step two) Combine the baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of flour in a separate bowl, stirring together very well. After the dough has been rising for an hour at room temperature, add the remaining flour mixture, stirring well.
Dough should be a little sticky, but should hold together well. The dough is ready to use if you'd like, but for best results cover the pot with plastic wrap and let the dough continue to rise in the refrigerator overnight. You may have to punch it down a few times as it rises above the top of the pot.
3. MAKe the brown butter for the glaze.
Place 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan and turn on med-hi. First the butter will melt, and as its cooking I usually pick up the pot and swirl it around every few minutes. Then the butter will come to a boil, then start to foam. You don’t want the it to burn, so you can swirl it a little more often while it’s boiling. Cook it on this temperature until the foam goes down and you start seeing little pieces of brown (and the butter will smell more like toasted nuts than before) and it will foam up a little bit. Pour the butter into a small bowl and set aside for later.
4. Roll out the dough
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and split it into two halves (repeat the following steps for each half). Place one half on a heavily floured surface to be rolled out. Sprinkle the top with flour and press the dough out into a rectangle shape, then roll it out to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. The thinner your roll the more swirls you'll have. Take one 6 oz. bar of softened cream cheese and spread it out until its a thin layer covering all of the dough. Make sure the counter underneath the dough has plenty of flour, it tends to stick. Fold the dough in on itself 3 times -- once from each side meeting in the middle and then again where the two sides meet. The dough should now be in a smaller rectangle with the cream cheese inside. Roll it out again to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick.
5. Add cinnamon & roll 'em up
Melt 3 sticks of butter (this will be enough for greasing both pans and for the cinnamon spread on both rolls). Pour a generous amount of melted butter on the dough, and spread it out until it covers the whole surface. Then sprinkle with a layer of cinnamon, white sugar and brown sugar, then another layer of cinnamon. Be generous with all this stuff. Then roll the dough lengthwise as tightly as you can until it forms a log. Using a bread knife or a sharp chefs knife, cut the log into individual rolls measuring about 2-3 inches thick. You may need to flour the knife.
(I rolled mine thick and cut them thick, so these turned out about the size of a Cinnabon)
6. BAKE THE ROLLS
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat the bottoms and sides of the pans with the melted butter. Place the rolls in the pans, (3 to a circular pan). It’s best to keep them farther apart to let them rise and fully cook in the oven. Give each one of them about an inch or more of space all the way around. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown & look like the photo below.
7. MAKE THE GLAZE (FINAL STEP!)
the first batch is in the oven, make the glaze: Add the powdered sugar, brown butter, vanilla, salt, corn syrup and 1 cup at a time of the hot water. Stir together with a whisk as you go, and once your glaze is the right consistency set it aside. I like mine somewhere between an icing and a glaze, so when I stick a spoon in it flows off easily but the spoon never gets completely clean. As each batch comes out of the oven, immediately put a giant spoonful of glaze on top of each one and let it melt over the top. Or just pour it on...
You may not use all of the water, or you may feel like you need to use more. You're adding water to get the correct consistency, and that's really up to you. I like my glaze thick because it melts over the hot cinnamon rolls. But I promise this glaze will taste good no matter what consistency it is.
EAT THEM HOT + SHARE WITH SOMEONE YOU LOVE