Monday, January 18, 2010

Get Up Late Cinnamon Rolls

AKA "Instant Gratification Cinnamon Buns"

I guess you can't call them rolls if you don't use yeast and slave away for hours over repeated rises? Anyway, this is an easy and fun recipe for not-quite-traditional cinnamon rolls. You can pull them together in about 20 minutes, including rolling. With a half hour to chill out in the fridge and 20 minutes in the oven, these babies can be on your plate in way under two hours. They're flakier and more delicate than a traditionally chewy cinnamon roll, and a bit petite. I like them better that way, because I can justify eating more.

This year I made them for Christmas morning, and we devoured a whole pan (only 15 measly rolls between four people!) while they were still warm. Well, in between taking photos. I just can't get over how cute they are--that's half the fun of making them. Well...maybe a good 25 percent.

From the bakery...

Recipe: (note: this is a originally a King Arthur flour recipe, which you can find here. I don't use any of their specialty ingredients, and it always turns out delicious)

2 cups (King Arthur) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + enough milk to total 1/2 cup

4 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (3/4 to 1 ounce) milk or cream, enough to make a spreadable frosting

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan. If desired (I always desire!), melt 2 tablespoons butter, and drizzle it into the bottom of the prepared pan. This adds to the rolls' buttery flavor, and makes them easier to remove from pan.

To make the dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, leavener(s), salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into pieces, and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.

Break an egg into a measuring cup, and add milk to the 1/2-cup line. Whisk together and add to the dry ingredients, stirring to make a soft dough. Transfer the dough to a heavily floured work surface, and roll it into a rope about 14" long. Flatten it gently, then use a rolling pin to gently roll it into a 16" x 6" rectangle. Use a dough scraper or giant spatula to lift the dough as you roll, adding more flour underneath if it begins to stick to the work surface.

To prepare the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients, mixing until smooth and spreadable. Spread the filling on the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1" margin free along one long edge. Starting with the long edge that DOES have filling on it, roll the log up. Turn it so the seam is on the bottom, and gently shape it till it's about 16" long.

To form and bake the buns: Cut the log into 16 slices (I usually eyeball it and get 15-16), and place them in the prepared pan. I then refrigerate them for about a half hour (I am convinced, perhaps without reason, that it's always better to chill things before putting them in a hot oven. You can also chill them overnight, for an even later wake-up call.) (Or you can bake the buns immediately.) Whether they've been refrigerated or not, bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes (the longer amount of time if they've been chilled), until they're just beginning to turn a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and place them on a rack to cool, as you prepare the frosting.

To prepare the frosting: Stir together the sugar, vanilla, butter, and salt. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or cream, and beat until smooth and creamy, adding additional liquid if the frosting seems too thick to spread easily. Spread the frosting on the warm buns. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Buns will stay soft for several days, so long as you keep them covered. (Note: I have never seen them last this long, but yes, I suppose it's possible.) Yield: 16 buns.

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