To add on to that list of things I miss from home, let’s say cinnamon rolls. Or maybe more accurately Cinnabons, although I cannot honestly remember the last time I had one, and I think it’s correct to say I’ve had less than 5 in my entire lifetime (which should probably be the limit for those fatty, calorie-packed swirls of goodness), but when I started thinking about them a couple months ago, I couldn’t get them out of my head. It’s all about the icing. That thick and dense, yet creamy and light, cream cheese frosting that is almost too solid to come off the spatula, but at once melts on contact with a fresh, steaming hot cinnamon roll out of the oven. This is what went through my head and I knew the only way to clear it would be to make them. And it had the pleasant side effect of the consumption of said cinnamon rolls plus icing as well.
Apparently, homemade Cinnabons are popular. There are lots of recipes out there that say that they recreate Cinnabons, that they’re the exact same, tastes just like it, etc. Lucky for me. One thing I encountered a couple times and I did not want included was packaged pudding mix. I’m making homemade stuff, I don’t need to put an any powdered processed foods, I don’t know if Cinnabon does, but I will not. And another thing, that just the thought makes me cringe, thin, drippy streaks of icing scattered across my cinnamon rolls. I can picture it now. That’s not proper icing, I want a big wad of substantial cream cheese frosting, and I think this splatter-paint, watered down stuff is more common in what people call sticky buns, or some other sort of breakfast roll with raisins, and I can say (no offense to those who do) that I do not like them, at all.
Anyways, I found a couple recipes and I decided to mix them, a happy medium between method of one and ingredients of another. I liked one because it had three rising times, while the one whose ingredients I thought best only had two. Good thing I did those three times, because I think I ended up with the power of only two, so if I had done one less, well who knows. Let me explain: when you let things rise, it should be in a ‘warm, draft-free place’ as most recipes direct. My apartment is not so warm, but I didn’t realize that would be such a hindrance. So after my first draft-free rising, the dough ball (yes, dough ball) had not doubled in size. Advice for those of you who also have cold apartments and are trying to rise some dough: turn your oven on, just for about five minutes at a low heat, then turn it off and put your dough in there, if it’s too warm you can crack the door until it lets out some heat. This worked great, and my dough doubled in size (this being the second rising, which was more like the first). So then I could cut and roll and let rise again (once again, in the oven).
One more thing that I’m particular about when it comes to my cinnamon rolls: I like them to be perfectly round, as Cinnabon’s are. When you put them next to each other in a baking dish, or even a rounded pan, they come out a little bit squared edge, straight where they meet each other during baking. Therefore, I simply put mine spaced far apart on a baking sheet so they had no boundaries and could spread out where they wanted to, and man they did. Some even started to break during the last rising process, but I’d rather this than have squared-off cinnamon rolls. So, last word of advice, have plenty of cream cheese frosting around, as you’ll want to pile on loads (like a true Cinnabon), especially once you’ve gotten half way through your roll, you might need another scoop for the last bit.
1 ¼ oz package yeast
1 c warm milk
½ c sugar
1/3 c melted butter
1 tsp salt
4 c bread flour
cinnamon filling (I found I needed more of this, so have extra supplies in case you do too)
1 c brown sugar
2 ½ Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 c butter, melted
icing (you definitely need more of this)
7 Tbsp butter, softened
1 ½ c powdered sugar
½ c cream cheese
drop or two of vanilla extract
Ok, first for the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, stir around, then set aside. Now mix everything else together in a bowl: the sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and flour. Stir everything together well, then mix in the milk and yeast. Now I take it out of the bowl and on a lightly floured counter top, I keep mixing until it comes together and then I knead until it’s nice and smooth, I think 5 minutes should do it. Now rub some oil around the inside of a metal bowl, put the dough ball in, cover, and let rise until doubled in size (this should take about an hour, and I suggest doing it inside a warmed oven, as I said before. Mine really made a difference, and I was so happy to see my dough had doubled. If you do it correctly, then I think only two rises in total are necessary, but you can do another one if you knead/punch down again, covering, and put back in a warm place for about another hour, otherwise, go on to the next step of rolling out the dough).While you wait for things to rise, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. When you’re done with your rising, whether you’ve chosen one or two, go back to the lightly floured surface and roll your dough out into a rectangle. Lots of recipes gave different measurements for the size of your rectangle, but you can judge how thick you want yours…I’d just say roll out to about the size of a baking sheet or a bit larger. Now spread your cinnamon/brown sugar mixture over it, to the edges, quickly mixing more and adding as you need…I had to. Starting at one of the short edges of the rectangle, roll up the dough until the next edge. This is where dental floss comes in handy. Get a long strip, and slide it under the dough so you can cut your first roll. Once again, you’ve had cinnamon rolls before (I hope) and you know how big they are, I’d say cut each one about 2 or 3 inches. Take the floss, wrap around the dough and pull, cutting through the dough and you should get a clean cut. Stand your roll upright on the baking sheet, and let them rise for a final time. This should take about 30 minutes, and they’ll double again. Now turn the oven on 350 F/170 C, and bake them for about 20 minutes…until they just start to brown on the outside. While you’re waiting for them to cook, make your frosting, just mix everything together. Whip/stir more for fluffier frosting. I put in more cream cheese than some recipes called for and less powdered sugar because I like it to be a little more tangy and less sweet, so you can adjust. Take them out of the oven and pile on the icing and watch it melt as it comes into contact with the warm cinnamon rolls. And that’s it. Homemade cinnamon rolls, and they might even be better than Cinnabon. The destruction of the cinnamon roll follows.