|To me, cinnamon rolls have to have lots of cinnamon flavor and a bread that is soft and chewy but completely cooked. There is nothing in the world worse than undercooked bread dough. To achieve that we needed a bread that was heavy with butter and eggs. With those requirements I went straight to brioche for the dough. It also needs some kind of icing. I dislike plain icing, so I went with an orange flavored icing that complements the bread and cinnamon quite nicely.
This recipe requires that the dough chill overnight, so if you want to wow your family on Saturday or Sunday morning be sure to start the night before.
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredients for Dough:
5 cups all purpose flour
1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
¼ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup butter
1 cup hot water (120 - 130 degrees)
5 eggs, at room temperature
Ingredients for Filling:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 table spoon butter at room temperature
Ingredients for Icing:
1 ½ cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
Zest from 1 orange
Baking Pans: 1 sheet pan covered with parchment paper (the cinnamon will leak out the bottom so don't try this without the parchment paper!)
In a large mixing bowl or in a stand mixer combine 2 cups flour, the other dry ingredients, the milk and the hot water. Beat for two minutes with the mixer or with a large wooden spoon if you are doing this by hand.
Add the butter and beat for another minute.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating them in thoroughly before adding the next.
Add the rest of the flour ½ cup at a time and beat thoroughly before the next addition.
The dough will be soft and sticky and must be beaten until it is shiny, elastic and pulls from your hands (about 10 minutes). Be sure to take the time to do this right, it makes a huge difference in being able work with it.
If by hand; grab the dough with one hand, steadying the bowl with the other, and pull a handful about 14" out of the bowl, then throw it with some force back into the bowl. Continue doing this for about 18 to 20 minutes. Don't despair! It will work. It is sticky, it is a mess, but trust me it will start to stretch and pull away after a while.
You can get the same results from a stand mixer in about 10 minutes (and no walk through the valley of despair either!). Use the flat beater rather than the dough hook. You will, however, need to keep an eye on it. This dough is so dense it likes to climb the stem of the beater. If it gets in the works of your mixer, you have a mess only a repair shop can fix. If the dough starts to get close to the top of the beater. Stop, and push it down in the bowl.
This dough needs to rise at 85 degrees, so it if you keep your house at 68 in the winter like I do you will have to address that. The best method is to turn you oven to the Warm setting for about 20 minutes, then turn it off.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Remove the upper rack and set the bowl on the lower one, close the oven door. Let the dough rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until it has doubled in volume.
Stir the dough down in the bowl and recover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. This dough has a lot of eggs in it, so it is needs to be cold in order to be shaped.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured work surface. Don't scrimp on the flour, as this dough can be sticky and it will really be a mess if it sticks when you roll it up. Press down and knead for a 30 seconds to get any bubbles out of the dough. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Place the dough so the short side is facing you. Using your rolling pin, press horizontal lines in the dough, one on top of the other to gently lengthen it. Once the dough is about 15 inches long; use the rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 12" by 18" inch rectangle. The dough should be about a ¼" thick.
In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to be sure the spices are evenly distributed through the brown sugar. With a spatula spread the butter evenly over the dough. Take care to leave at least ¾ of an inch on the edges. If you don't leave that space you will not be able to seal the roll.
Evenly spread the brown sugar mixture over the buttered portions of the dough. Press down gently on the brown sugar to set it in the butter. When you are done it will look like this:
Starting from the top edge, tightly and evenly roll the dough towards you. Take your time, there is no rush and this step as a big affect on the final rolls. Tightly pinch the seam together and set the roll seam side down. When you are done it will look like this:
To slice the rolls, use a serrated knife. Don't press down hard, just saw back and forth and let the knife do all the work. You will be making 16 rolls. To get even rolls cut the roll in half, then cut the halves in half you will have four pieces. Cut those pieces in half, and then cut the halves in half again. Bingo! 16 even rolls.
Place the rolls on the baking sheet four across. To assure the sides are not tough we want the rolls the be close to each other. They should be no more than an inch apart. Place your next row that close to the first. Repeat until you have placed all the rolls on the baking sheet.
Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until they have doubled in size, and are touching, about an hour.
Set on oven rack to the middle of your oven (or as close as you can get if you have a cheap oven like I do). Twenty minutes before the rolls are done rising preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slip the rolls into the hot oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the rolls are just starting to brown.
Remove from the oven. To move the rolls to the cooling rack, tilt the pan to about a 30 degree angle and pull on parchment paper side closest to the rack. The rolls and the paper will slide off the pan and onto the cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the icing ingredients in a small bowl and let sit until the rolls are ready to ice. This will let the flavors meld better. Using the point of a spoon liberally drizzle the icing onto the rolls. Pull apart and serve!
If you want to have these for a really early morning, you can bake the rolls the night before and then let them cool on the baking sheet. When they are cool, cover them tightly in plastic wrap. In the morning preheat an oven to 325, remove the plastic wrap, pop them in for five minutes. Then just cool and ice them as above.
There you have it! A great breakfast treat!