Sunday, June 21, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Once upon a time, a very long time ago indeed, I was a freshman in college. I had a roommate who made cinnamon rolls. From scratch. Without a recipe. She astonished me. An 18-year old who could do something so complex! It was a process filled with the mysteries of yeast, multiple risings, and using dishtowels for tight rolling. None of which were things I had encountered before. I was so astonished, in fact, by her ability to make something that was clearly so complicated, that I never attempted to make them myself. Until now.

I had heard about Alton's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from the Priestess. I figured Fathers' Day would be a perfect opportunity to try them. I knew if anyone could make Cinnamon Rolls easy enough for even me to make, it would be Alton Brown.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls *click here for printable version* *or here*
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2006

Prep Time: 45 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 12 rolls

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

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

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups


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.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Alton wins. These were so easy and so tasty. Yes, I cheated on my pledge to do all things by hand (again), and used my mixer to knead the dough. My excuse? Alton said so.

I messed up a little on the icing. I took "cream cheese, softened" a little too literally, and bought whipped cream cheese. Mainly because I thought it would make it easier. I didn't realize until I was in the midst of making the icing that the difference in density between regular and whipped cream cheese would amount to a difference in the amount going into the mixture. So I tried adding more. And more. And then I got greedy and thought maybe I could achieve that wonderful thick cream cheese frosting they use at Cinnabon*. No. I just ended up with an icing that leaned toward the cheese side and didn't have enough sugar to balance. BUT. It was still very tasty.

A lot of times, for me, cinnamon roll dough is too dense and dry and the only really delicious part is the middle (where there's more cinnamon) and the icing. This dough is soft and tender and sweet and delicious. And it is incredibly easy to work with. I thought the rolling would be difficult. Not at all. And in the whole process of rolling, cutting, and transferring to the baking dish...I only lost this much of the cinnamon sugar:

Pretty good, eh? If my children weren't so persnickety, I would make these every weekend.

TGIP Rating--Overnight Cinnamon Rolls--KEEPER (I'd also like to try them with some finely chopped pecans added to the cinnamon sugar--yum)

Next up: No special occasions this week. I think I'm going to try a different bread recipe. Rustic Potato Loaves from Baking with Julia. I love potato bread.

* If you have a copycat recipe of the Cinnabon frosting, I'd love it if you shared! :)


Jeremy said...

Cinnabon Icing
1 stick (8 tbs.) margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine and beat until fluffy.

It's delicious!!!

April Fossen said...

Jeremy, I love you. More.

Summer said...

I have another copycat recipe, a little different:

1/2 lb margarine
1/2 lb cream cheese
1 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Allow margarine and cream cheese to reach room temp. Beat cream cheese and margarine in bowl. Slowly add all the powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is in the bowl beat 12 minutes (I know!) When almost done add lemon juice and vanilla.

It makes a ton, but is so super yummy!