It’s cold here in Norcal. And I don’t mean “wimpy-Californian” cold. I mean, its cold. Sub-freezing, burlap on the citrus, frost on the windows, see your breath, don’t slip on the driveway cold. The kids get a kick out of it (we don’t). But the house is still toasty and Carolyn knows just what to bake to warm us up, Cinnamon Rolls. You know, the big, puffy, swirling rolls with the thick white glaze….yup, those. Carolyn pulls out treats like this when the weather gets nasty, and they are so good we almost (and we do mean almost) welcome the cold.
And these rolls are a special treat and a good baking project for a cold weekend, where indoor activity and warm kitchens are at a premium. They do take some time, work, and a little gear, but the reward is something almost everyone likes. And who doesn’t like a cinnamon roll? The whole house smells like a bakery, and then you get a big, sweet, warm and yeasty roll with a sugar and cinnamon filling and a sugary vanilla glaze. Hard to beat. Kid’s and adult’s eyes widen when these come to the table.
Actually, the one person who may not “love” cinnamon rolls is the baker. These do take some time and effort. But this recipes works. It’s from King Arthur Flour, they thoroughly test their recipes, they know what they are doing. And the recipe is big enough so you can split the rolls into batches before baking and freeze half for future use (and the dough does refrigerate overnight or freeze well). So if you make the effort you do get a proven recipe and a batch in the morning or next weekend, if you like. We think it’s a decent payoff. (Right about now Carolyn will say “what do you mean ‘we’?”) 😉
The extra work with kind of baking comes from using a yeast-based dough. Yeast is what makes for a soft and puffy roll, but you need to activate the yeast, add it to the dough and then let the dough rise. In most cases, yeast-based doughs requires just a bit more work, but a lot more time (in this recipe, up to a few hours) and some advance planning. And a stand mixer or bread machine really help here. You can make this dough by hand, but it will be a workout and the dough will take longer to rise. Not advised.
Oh, and did we tell you about the “second rise”? That happens after you spread out the dough, make and add the cinnamon filling, roll up the whole thing and then cut it into slices. (At this point you can refrigerate for baking the next morning or freeze some for future use). You then put the slices in the pan, cover them and let them rise (puff) for another 2 hours, or so. After that, you are ready to bake, and making the glaze is a snap. Again, not a ton of work, but a decent slug of time. Happily, you start to see what the finished product will look like, and it’s hard not to get excited.