Monday, September 29, 2008

A roll to build a dream on

I have had a cinnamon roll scratch recipe for probably fifteen years which I adored wholeheartedly before I lost the American Bed and Breakfast Cookbook in which it lived. Meaning to replace it for sometime now but not having had the time (busy with minor tasks, really: Career, relocation's, a parent passing away, surviving a violent crime, decorating, a first child, ugh, and stuff.), I was, let's say, delayed in cruising Amazon for another copy. In the meantime, I noticed the recipe in the most recent Saveur for Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls.

The recipe is a bit of a nudge, in general. The butter does not incorporate neatly, the cream cheese can get a bit too spreadable making things slippery but these issues were quickly managed with a little extra flour to make things less sticky. Saveur also claims this recipe makes 8 rolls. It made 12 for me, so we'll split the difference. I used cranberries instead of raisins and, in honor of my Mother-in-Law, Laura, changed to an orange glaze. That is the way she does it, and in the end, they way I think everyone should. It is just the nip citrus to balance all that sticky sweetness.

The work and the difficulty in certain parts of the method are worth seeing through, because at heart - deep down under all that gooey, sticky, fruity goodness - it is a cloudy, eggy, smooth cinnamon roll bread. It is a dreamy, Saturday morning cinnamon roll, worthy of an actual mug of dark, rich coffee in a real - not paper - cup, The New York Times, soft pj's, and a long lean back in front of a beautiful window. These made me wish Saturday morning could last all weekend long.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Glaze
10 servings, at least
adapted from Saveur Magazine

This dough may be prepared a day in advance and left to rise in the refrigerator overnight.

1 1⁄4-oz. package active dry yeast
1⁄2 tsp. plus 1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3⁄4 cups flour, sifted, and more for kneading
3⁄4 tsp. fine salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup dark brown sugar
1⁄4 cup finely chopped pecans
1⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1⁄4 cup sweetened cranberries (raisins, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. fine salt
1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice, more if you need to lighten consistency of icing
1 tablespoon fine orange zest

Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, 1⁄2 tsp. of the sugar, and 1⁄4 cup water heated to 115°. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 1⁄2–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, cranberries, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set filling aside.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10" x 10" square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it's smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10" x 20" rectangle.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9" x 13" light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight.)

Heat oven to 375°. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the confectioners sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle all over the rolls. Serve immediately.

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