There's no turning back
Attempting to make cinnamon rolls from scratch might appear daunting at first, but they are really so easy. Once you make bread at home, there is no turning back. What I like about this pastry is that the dough is light and delicate, so you do not feel stuffed after eating one of them.
I have to admit that I am a novice bread maker, but to me there is just something bewitching about making bread. You mix and knead the dough the night before and by morning, the dough has transformed into something completely different as the yeast begins to work its' magic.
This dough for this recipe uses bread flour, which is really easy to work with and produces an airy, soft texture. I made a traditional version with cinnamon sugar, but there are so many variations you could add, such as raisins or pecans to the filling. The fondant can be dressed up with orange or lemon zest, decadent cream cheese, or even a bit of liquor, such as Grand Marnier for a bit of zing. I recommend making these rolls anytime, but they would be ideal at a celebration, such as Christmas day paired with a glass of eggnog with a bit of rum or whisky.
Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
from the Bread Baker's Apprentice
by: Peter Reinhart
6 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg - Slightly Beaten
1 teaspoon of lemon extract or lemon zest
3 1/2 cups of unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons of instant yeast
1 1/8 - 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon)
1. Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and between 6 Tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.
1. Cream together sugar, salt and butter on medium-high speed. Add egg and lemon.
2. Add flour, yeast and milk. Switch to dough hook and mix for 10 minutes or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes. (The dough should not be too sticky) Add a bit of extra flour to achieve this texture if necessary.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer dough to the bowl. Let rise for at least 2 hours or until dough doubles in size. (Overnight is best)
4. Once the dough rises, roll it out into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough and gently roll the dough into a log. Cut the dough into 8-12 pieces and place in square shaped pan.
5. Let the dough rise for an hour.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
7. Let cool for about ten minutes and then coat with fondant.