Made with the finest, all-natural ingredients, these are completely amazing cinnamon rolls, sure to wreck diets and inspire devoted culinary love wherever they go.
The cornerstone of this recipe is the soft, moist and tender sweet dough. Flavored with milk and honey, it incorporates a simple cooked flour roux to hold in moisture. The roux and an extended kneading time are the secret to a pillowy, ethereal texture.
These skip the standard super-sweet powdered sugar frosting, and go instead for a richly flavored, creamy glaze that rounds out the cinnamon and makes the flavors sing. Don’t be put off by the white chocolate base for this wonderful glaze, even tasters who dislike white chocolate didn’t realize it was there and absolutely loved this frosting.
Timing is Everything
Having a Proofer on hand for these rolls helps take the guesswork out of timing a breakfast or brunch – no impatient family members waiting listlessly for breakfast while slow-poke rolls rise. Using the Proofer to get the butter melty-soft makes it easier to knead it into the dough. And that crazy good glaze is actually made right in the Proofer while the rolls bake. Easy and foolproof.
Yield: 12 Cinnamon Rolls (double the recipe to make 24 rolls). Make 12 rolls in two 9” (23cm) round cake pans. Make a double recipe in two 9×13” (23x33cm) rectangular pans. If you are partial to a tall shape for your rolls, slice the log into 9 pieces instead of 12 and bake in one 9×9 square or 10″ round pan.
Timing: Most of the work on these rolls can be done the day before baking. On day 1 the dough can be made, chilled, rolled and cut, then the rolls are refrigerated overnight. In the morning, pull the rolls out of the fridge about 2¼ hours before serving time, then proof and bake. Scroll down to the end for alternative timing notes.
Milk & Honey Sweet Dough
|Unbleached flour, 12% protein||2 c spooned||250||8.8|
|Milk||¾ cup (180 ml)||182||6.4|
|Instant yeast||1½ tsp||4.8||0.17|
|Egg yolk||1 yolk||15||0.5|
|Butter, very soft||4 Tbs||57||2.0|
*Use a strong unbleached All-Purpose flour (such as King Arthur AP) or a Bread Flour (such as Gold Medal Better for Bread).
Equipment: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer. A stand mixer is helpful for to the long kneading time and sticky dough texture.
Make the Roux. Measure the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk to a small saucepan and whisk in 3 Tbs of the flour from the mixer bowl. (If you are weighing ingredients, put 30g/1.1oz of bread flour into the milk and 220g/7.8oz into the mixer bowl.) Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until uniformly thickened and bubbling, about 20-30 seconds after the mixture first begins to boil. Cover and chill until cool to the touch.
Set up the Proofer and check on the butter. The butter will incorporate more easily with the dough if it is so soft that it’s gone all melty at the edges. It can be warmed in the Proofer at 85F/29C. To prepare for rising the dough, lightly oil a container and mark it at the 4-cup/1 liter level (8-cup/2 liters if making a double recipe).
Mix the Dough. Add the instant yeast and salt to the flour in the mixer bowl and stir to combine. Add the water, cooled roux, honey and egg yolk. Mix on low speed until flour is moistened. Once the dough comes together it should stick to the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add 1 more tablespoon water to achieve the right consistency.
Knead Intensively for an Ethereal Texture. Raise mixer to medium-low and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add the butter in four parts, kneading until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once all the butter is incorporated, knead for 10 more minutes on medium-low. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, although it may still stick on the bottom.
Ferment the Dough. Check that the Proofer is set up with water in the tray and the temperature at 85F/29C. Scrape the dough into the oiled container, place in the Proofer and allow to rise until doubled, about 75-80 minutes.
Fold and Chill. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and stretch and fold all four sides to the middle, creating a square package. Wrap loosely and chill (a relaxed, cool dough will be less sticky and easier to roll out without adding too much flour). After 30 minutes, deflate the dough and re-wrap. Chill 30 more minutes or until it’s convenient to roll the dough, up to 24 hrs.
Cinnamon Pecan Filling
|Butter, melted and cooled||4 Tb||57||2.0|
|Light brown sugar||2 Tb||27||1.0|
|Cinnamon||2 tsp||2 tsp||2 tsp|
|Vanilla||½ tsp||½ tsp||½ tsp|
|Egg white, cold||1 white||32||1.1|
|Pecans, chopped||¾ cup||85||3.0|
While the Dough is Chilling, Make the Filling. Butter the bottom and sides of the pans and chop the pecans finely. Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined. Quickly whisk in the cold egg white to thicken and emulsify the mixture.
Roll and Fill the Dough. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough, then roll out to a 12 x 14” (30 x 36 cm) rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough, extending all the way to the edges on the short sides and leaving a small bare border on both long sides. Sprinkle the nuts over the filling. Starting from a long side, roll the dough into a log and press lightly to seal the seam. Use plain dental floss to cut the roll into 12 pieces. If using a knife to slice rolls, it may be easier if the log is chilled first. Arrange the rolls in the pan with smaller rolls in the middle. Cover and chill overnight.
Proof the Cinnamon Rolls. Set up the Proofer with plenty of water in the tray. Use the rack with the fold-out legs on the lower level to raise the pan off the warming element so that the lower level and upper level proof at the same rate. Set the thermostat to 90F/32C. Place one pan of rolls on the lower rack, off to one side. Then add the shelf supports and shelf and place the second pan on the upper level, off to the opposite side. Close the lid and allow the rolls to proof until the dough springs back slowly when the side of a roll is dented with a finger, about 90 minutes. Half way through proofing, rotate the pans 180 degrees.
Cinnamon Mocha Topping
|Fine quality white chocolate bar*||one 3oz bar or ⅔ of a 4.5oz bar||85||3.0|
|Cinnamon||¼ tsp||¼ tsp||¼ tsp|
|Coffee or Espresso (brewed)||1 Tbs||15||0.5|
|Powdered sugar||2 Tbs||14||0.5|
*Lindt or Green & Black’s white chocolate bars are delicious in this recipe. White chocolate chips are formulated not to melt and won’t work well here.
Make the Glaze. Break or chop the white chocolate into pieces and put in a small bowl along with the coffee, cinnamon and butter. When the cinnamon rolls are fully proofed, remove them from the Proofer, then turn the thermostat up to 120F (49C). Remove the upper rack and fold up the legs on the lower rack so that it rests close to the warming element. Place the topping mixture in the center of the rack and close the lid. (Because the white chocolate is being melted with coffee and butter, it’s OK to leave the water tray in the Proofer- a little steam won’t hurt it.)
Bake the Cinnamon Rolls. Cover each pan of rolls with aluminum foil (to seal in moisture and encourage the fullest oven spring possible) and place in the oven on the lower rack. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil, rotate pans 180 degrees and place on upper rack to encourage browning. Bake 15-20 more minutes, until nicely browned and the rolls reach an internal temperature of 190F (88C).
Cool and Top the Rolls. When the cinnamon rolls are done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While the rolls are cooling, whisk the melted glaze ingredients until they emulsify and are thick and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Unmold the rolls onto a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.
Alternative Timing: The rolls can be made all in one day. After the first rise/bulk ferment, chill the dough only for the minimum time of 1 hour. Then roll, fill and cut the rolls. Skip the overnight time in the refrigerator and shorten the final proof to 70-75 minutes (the dough will be warm and will take less time than refrigerated dough). All in, start these rolls 5½-6 hours before serving time.