We are ending our Easter Brunch series with one last recipe to add to your menu. Cinnamon rolls are a crowd pleaser, and despite the multiple steps that may at first seem intimidating, they are relatively simple to make. Prepare them the night before, and then bake them the morning of your brunch.
Before you begin, make sure to gather fresh ingredients. It might be tempting to use flour and yeast that you have had in your pantry for the past year and a half. Throw it out and get fresh ingredients. It will make a difference. Old yeast could prevent your cinnamons rolls from rising. Also, I strongly recommend using bread flour rather than traditional flour. Bread flour will make a softer, more chewy roll.
Wether I am making cookies, cakes or cinnamon rolls, I cream my butter and sugar together for at least 7 minutes. I find that this creates smoother and fluffier baked items in the end. I also like to use the extended time of creaming the butter and sugar to start measuring out all of the other ingredients.
The first time I made cinnamon rolls and I added the water and yeast mixture, I thought I had ruined the dough and I almost started over. It looked like curdled milk and I was sure it would never come together and form a dough. This is normal, and what you want it to look like. Keep moving forward and add your dry ingredients. I promise it will come together.
As the recipe indicates, you may not need to add the full amount of flour. You want to add only the amount of flour that it takes so your dough is not sticky. Adding too much flour will make your rolls very dry. Once you have added the appropriate amount of flour, turn your mixer to a low speed and let the machine do all the kneading for you. 15 minutes sounds like a long time, but it will add to the fluffiness of your rolls.
I use a pastry brush to lightly coat a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. It doesn’t take much. The oil just helps the dough not stick to the sides of the bowl while it rises. Makes sure to turn your dough around in the bowl so that the dough is also very light covered with the oil.
Cover the dough bowl with foil and let it rest in a warm spot for an hour and a half. Don’t rush this time. The dough needs to rise for this length of time before moving to the next steps.
While the dough is rising, prepare your cinnamon sugar mixture and melt your butter.
I found that it was helpful to lightly dust my work surface with flour before rolling out my dough. Start by shaping the dough into a rectangle with your hands before rolling it into a larger 12×18 inch rectangle.
When your dough is rolled to the proper size, generously butter the dough, but leave about a half inch strip of the dough unbuttered on the long side of the rectangle that is furthest from you. This is hard to explain in words, so take a look at the photos to guide this step.
Most cinnamon roll recipes tell you to roll the entire sheet of dough together, and then cut individual rolls. It seems like every time I have tried that, the big roll seems to split or I stretch the dough too far, or I can’t even roll it up at all. In my frustration one evening while making these rolls, I decided to cut individual strips and then individually construct each roll. Much more manageable and I had complete success.
If you want even smaller rolls than what I created, I would suggest cutting your dough in half lengthwise and then cut the individual strips and roll up your dough. This will make much smaller portions. (I didn’t have this idea until after this shoot- I’m doing this next time though!)
Layer your baking sheet with parchment paper and generously butter the pan. Your dough will continue to rise overnight, so make sure to leave enough room between each roll on the pan, and then butter their sides so they are easier to pull apart after they bake.
Let them rise overnight in the refrigerator, but make sure to let them come to room temperature before baking them in the oven.
The fluffy texture and soft nature of these rolls are amazing by themselves and they don’t even need any frosting. I actually regret that I smothered them in icing. Don’t get me wrong- the iced rolls are incredible too, but perhaps leave some without any icing and just enjoy the freshly baked roll in its natural form.
recipe calligraphy and design: LaHappy
photography: Matthew Land Studios