Cinnamon rolls a day ahead

2nd April, 2011 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is better than waking up to aroma of fresh, hot cinnamon rolls drifting through the house. Warm, slightly spicy, gooey, delicious.

Unfortunately, getting up extra early to make the dough, let it rise, roll, cut and bake them negates the luxury of fresh breakfast rolls. And cinnamon rolls from a can are just sad.

Because pulling something homemade out of the freezer for breakfast makes me feel like my day is off to a competent start, I decided to hunt up a cinnamon roll recipe that can be made in advance. Turns out that when it comes to baking, most bakers define “in advance” as anything that’s made prior to eating  – in which case pretty much everything is made in advance.

There were a few false leads. One recipe involved pre-made pizza dough, another included cottage cheese in the ingredient list. So the parameters of the search had to be refined to include no dough from cans and no cheese in the ingredients.

The recipe below fit the bill and, while it uses three bowls, it also produces at least twelve rolls and is not nearly as labor-intensive as it sounds.

I would like to say up front that I am not a baker. I can do it and sometimes enjoy it, but I don’t have the intuitive feel for the chemistry of baking that truly great bakers possess. I managed to produce some pretty good cinnamon rolls and I’m sure you can too.

To start, heat two cups of milk to just bubbling. This can be done on the stove or in the microwave. I prefer the stove because I have more control over what’s going on and my microwave is old and cranky. Add the salt, sugar and butter and stir. The heat helps everything dissolve. Let the milk cool until it reaches 110 to 115 degrees. If there isn’t a thermometer handy, then cool it to just above body temperature. You should be able to comfortably hold your finger in the milk.

While the milk is cooling, mix a packet of dry yeast into a beaten egg and add that to the milk. Make sure the milk is cool enough, otherwise the heat will kill the yeast.

Fold in six cups of flour, one cup at a time. When the flour is incorporated, turn the whole mess out onto a well-floured surface and knead until it’s smooth. This will take some time and might require a bit of muscle.  Once a smooth ball has formed, put the dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it for an hour to rise. The plastic wrap keep the moisture close to the dough and prevents a skin from forming.

After an hour, punch down the dough and turn back out onto the well-floured surface. This time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a rectangle shape.

A couple notes about that: 1) This particular dough is fairly elastic. Rolling it out takes some effort. When I made this, there were a few strapping young men hanging around the kitchen, so I had them do it. 2) Rolling a round ball of dough into a rectangle of even thickness takes some practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first few times. It’s more important that the dough be an even thickness – aim for a quarter-inch or so.

Once the dough is rolled out, brush with melted butter, cover generously with cinnamon sugar mixture and roll up. At this point, the dough can be wrapped in plastic wrapped and frozen or it can be sliced and frozen in a pan. I prefer freezing in a pan, because it eliminates one more step on baking day.

The day before baking, move the frozen rolls from the freezer to the refrigerator and let thaw overnight. The day of, leave them at room temperature for 20 minutes or so, then bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Top with glaze and enjoy with a cup of tea while still in your pajamas.

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
Cinnamon Roll Dough:

2 cups milk
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
6 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze:
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove top until just bubbling. Combine 6 tablespoons of the sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Pour the hot milk over it and let it cool until it reaches 110° to 115° F.

2. While the milk mixture is cooling, use a small bowl to whisk together the egg and yeast. Set aside. Once cooled, add yeast mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the flour one cup at a time and mix until the dough is soft.

3. Pour the dough on a well-floured counter and knead until it is very smooth and elastic; about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large, well-greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Use a small bowl to whisk together the cinnamon and remaining 1 cup of sugar. When it has doubled in size, punch down the dough and pour it onto a well floured counter.

5. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Set aside. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10 X 14-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 1/4 cup melted butter.

6. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the melted butter. Spread evenly across the dough. Starting with the long side closest to you, roll up the dough. Pinch the seam between thumb and forefingers to create a good seal which prevents the dough from unwinding.

7. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 2-inch thick discs. Place the discs on the prepared pan with about 1 1/2-inches between the discs. Tightly wrap the pan with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.

Baking the cinnamon rolls: The evening before you want to bake, remove frozen cinnamon rolls from the freezer and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight. On the day you want to bake, remove pan from the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the finished rolls cool for about 5 minutes. While the rolls are cooling, mix together the glaze. Combine powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon rolls and serve warm.

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Posted on: April 2, 2011

Filed under: Breakfast, Vegetarian

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