This is another recipe I started working on due to what I like to call the "American Bakery Syndrome"--that is, the majority of what I can buy in stores sucks. In this case, for the most part I've found that they've tasted soggy, and more of sugar syrup than cinnamon. That's not to say I don't have a sweet tooth--quite the opposite. But my stance here is much like the one I take for hot sauce--sure, it tastes like something, but it's still boring, stupid, and lazy.
Here are the basics. Cinnamon rolls are viennoiserie; simply put, that means they're sort of the bastard child of bread and more conventional pastry. This means there is fermenting dough involved, and you will need time to do this properly. You can, as usual, cut on the time, but the flavor won't be as nice. For people working the 9-5, I recommend starting the dough in the morning, and finishing everything after getting home from work. The fermented dough is then rolled out, sprinkled with filling, and rolled up and cut into small buns. The full form of this roll that I originally used comes with a glaze, but since development I haven't put them together; the combination of the sugar and butter in the roll, cinnamon filling AND the glaze is potent enough to violate the Geneva Convention. As for the icing crap on top--I don't believe in it. It clobbers any nice feeling from the bun and cinnamon with massive amounts of unwarranted sugar. You can do it if you want, but don't let me find out, or I will come for you.
- 400g bread flour
- 100g cake flour (AP works as well)
- 200g warm water
- 75g egg (About 1.5 large eggs; see procedure for what to do with the leftover partial egg)
- 100g sugar
- 8g salt
- 10g yeast
- 150g butter, room temperature (or melted)
The main thing to understand about the filling is the proportions. The basic formula is 100g brown sugar for 100g sugar for 6g cinnamon. However, how much you actually use is basically up to your personal tastes, and how diabetic you feel like getting after eating a batch. For the dough quantity above, a full amount would probably be something like:
- 25g brown sugar
- 25g sugar
- 1.5g cinnamon
- Mix the dry ingredients together, and add the water. Mix until it's just starting to come together.
- If you chose to melt the butter for time constraints, mix it in slowly so you don't have a large quantity of hot butter touching the dough at any given time. If the butter is at room temp, chop it into small 1/2 inch cubes and incorporate into the dough slowly.
- Mix/knead the dough until the gluten is well-formed, and you have a solid ball of dough. This takes roughly 5 minutes on medium speed on a kitchenaid with a dough hook, but may take longer if you're doing it by hand.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge "overnight"--this means 4 hours minimum, 10 hours maximum by my reckoning.
- Take the dough out, and let it sit for about 45 minutes so the butter in the dough softens and it becomes more workable.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle, and mix up your filling.
- Brush the entire surface of the dough with water, and sprinkle on the filling. I prefer using a sieve for an even distribution. MAKE SURE to leave a small strip of dough, about 1-2 inches, at the edge that has water but no filling, so that when you roll it up it seals properly.
- Roll the rectangle up into a big log, and cut into small rolls. Rest them on their sides on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 385 F.
- (OPTIONAL) At this point you can give the rolls a good coating of eggwash (this is a good opportunity to use up that spare egg from above). It doesn't really affect the taste (unless you screw up) but it definitely goes miles in terms of presentation. Everyone has different formulas for eggwash and as far as I can tell it doesn't make too much of a difference, but I like using whole eggs cut with a tiny tiny bit of cream. The only thing you have to watch out for is that you have to beat the eggs properly before using them. If you don't, then the eggwash turns out uneven and it will look like shit. This means your eggs have to be fully runny, with no bits of stringy cohesive white or whatever in there at all. Another small thing is to not put on too much; if you have your buns lying in a giant pool of egg, then the pool of egg will brown (or even worse, burn) in the oven, imparting a nasty taste to your buns.
- Let the rolls proof for about 1.5 to 2 hours. How long this takes depends, again, on the temperature; the cooler it is, the longer it takes. A good rule of thumb is just to wait until it's about 1.5x to 2x their original size, and have softened up considerably. Unless there is no change after 2+ hours, in which case something is terribly terribly wrong; perhaps you didn't use enough yeast, or killed them off somehow. Another good indicator is if the middle of the rolls are slightly pushed up due to the expansion, and if any excess water you brushed on earlier gets squeezed out as well.
- (OPTIONAL) Right before putting the rolls into the oven, throw on a second coating of eggwash. Why two? It gives it more color and more depth, and if you're going to go to the trouble of doing eggwash, might as well do it properly. If you're really lazy, you can skip the first coating from above and just do this one.
- Bake at 385F for about 13-15 minutes. The time it takes depends on the size of the rolls and everything, but I recommend checking on them after 13 minutes and deciding how much longer based on how they're looking.
And there you have it. Not that hard, aye? There's not even a need for a Notes section, since this is a fairly straightforward (if time-consuming) process. Anything that can go wrong in terms of rolling, shaping, etc, all comes down to practice, so there really isn't much I can say in a broad sense to remedy that.
One interesting note though, is that there is a Swedish-Slash-Scandinavian version of this that infuses the filling with cardamom, and tops the bun with tiny bits of pearl sugar. It's a bit unusual, but tasty nonetheless. I may try reproducing it one day, but I prefer the regular kind.