Cinnamon Rolls

It has been done. My year long ambition of making fantastic cinnamon rolls has been achieved. Finally. I shouldn’t have waited this long, but maybe it was a good thing because I got to make them with my dad who has a lot more patience and therefore used an overnight recipe. Maybe it was the slow rise in the fridge, or maybe the anticipation in the morning when I ran downstairs to enjoy this sweet breakfast.

Overnight rises and resting periods on recipes seems to be the new industry secret for creating fantastic baked goods. From cookies to rolls to full on breads and pizza dough, the secret in their perfect texture is apparently the slowed rise and rest in the fridge.

While making these, my dad and I ran into the classic senario of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” We would try to do the same thing at once like read the recipe off his phone screen or start combing ingredients. It was only a mild catastrophe. Our foot difference in height and the whole parent vs. child situation led to some easy decisions over who was there “first.” But we learned to share in the end.

The recipe we used is from Food Network’s Alton Brown. Anyone who knows my dad would immediately see why he chose this recipe – he worships Alton Brown. I once thought I saw him downtown, texted my dad with this information and got a response of “touch him for me.” It turned out to be my old physics teacher with an uncanny¬†resemblance, but that’s not the point. The point is, in high school, the biggest arguments of the night were over if we watched “Good Eats” or “Will & Grace.” This all being said, Mr. Brown knows his stuff. And these cinnamon buns are fantastic. I may have eaten 2 1/2 today.

Recipe (from Alton Brown via Food Network)

  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
  • 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Directions

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes. Ours took much less time, so be sure to check the internal temp.

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