I’m always impressed with young cooks who show initiative and perseverance when it comes to creating in the kitchen.
Take the example of 10-year-old Sam Tollison of Colorado, who loved cinnamon rolls so much that he got 100 signatures to petition the state’s governor to create a day devoted just to the cinnamon roll. So impressed by this kid’s determination, and dare I say it, sweet tooth, the governor had Jan. 8 declared Cinnamon Roll Day (it was actually written into law).
All of this hoopla is leading up to – you guessed it – cinnamon roll recipes. Now before I get to the recipes, you should know that there are two distinct groups of cinnamon rolls: Those with yeast and those without. I guess you could say I’m an independent voter as I vote for (and eat) both, depending on which has the better frosting or filling.
This column is my gift to Sam and the people of Colorado for recognizing just how special this pastry (and a 10-year-old who loves them) really is.
Yeast Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup milk, warmed (110 degrees)
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast, regular, instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into 12 pieces at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 200 degrees then turn it off. Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with foil (make sure the foil hangs over the edges when you push it into place). Grease the foil and set the pan aside.
In a bowl combine the milk and yeast. Whisk to combine and then whisk in the eggs. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (with a dough hook) combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Mix to combine and then slowly add the milk mixture and mix just until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed slightly and add the butter. Mix just until the butter is completely mixed in. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick to the sides of the mixing bowl, 7 to 10 minutes. Place the dough on the counter and roll it into a ball. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place the dough in the preheated warm oven. Let rise for about 2 hours or until it’s double its original size. While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a bowl combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle and then spread the top with the softened butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon filling over the butter or margarine, making sure to leave a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Press the filling into the dough. At this point the dough may be sticking to the counter and you may need to lift the dough slightly with a spatula. Roll up the dough, starting on the long edge, jelly rolls style, pressing consistently to form a roll. Make sure that you keep the rolling pretty tight. This dough will rise and expand so you want to make sure the filling will stay in place. Seal the seam by pinching it together. Cut the roll into 8 pieces. Place the slices in the prepared pan. Let the rolls rise until they double in size (1 1/2 to 2 hours) and then bake them.
When the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until they are golden. Remove them from the oven when they are done and cool for 30 minutes (in the pan). When the rolls are cool, remove them using the foil overhang. Frost before serving (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixing bowl and mix to combine. Start with 3 cups of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk; add more depending on how thick you like your frosting. This frosting can be made two to three days in advance.
Biscuit Cinnamon Buns
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Into a large bowl sift together flour, remaining tablespoon sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. In another small bowl whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons milk and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently knead, 3 or 4 times, until it forms a dough. Pat dough into a 10-by-6-inch rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick). Brush dough with some remaining milk and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar. Beginning with a short side, roll up rectangle to form a 6-inch log and cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet, cut sides up, with seams touching. Bake buns in middle of oven until pale golden and cooked through, about 18 minutes.
In another small bowl stir together powdered sugar and water until smooth and drizzle over warm buns.