cinnamon rolls

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As much as I love making desserts – brownies, cookies, cakes, pies – well, everyone makes those, don’t they?  I like making things that you wouldn’t necessarily think to try at home.  Especially for something special – like Christmas.

rolled out, after the first rise

...and rolled up, for the oven

I started on yeast breads years ago.  They’re kind of perfect as an intermediate challenge – lots of variables, but not too labor-intensive.  Anything with yeast requires experience, though.  You can go by the numbers (105*-115*F to proof the yeast, rise at 80*F, so many grams or ounces of flour), but when all’s said and done, you’re dealing with a living organism.  And it might not like numbers.

if you use muffin tins, shorten the baking time a bit

just one more thing...

These aren’t as scary as you might think.  They may not come out perfectly the first time (as happened with mine – I was too heavy-handed with the flour), but they’re absolutely worth a few attempts, if for no other reason than how they make the house smell.  And next time, I’m adding bacon.

...frosting!

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Adapted from Epicurious

Dough:
1 cup whole milk [*Alli’s note: I used reduced fat]
3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling:
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Glaze:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough:

Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.  [*Alli’s note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, combine well by hand.]  Add 2 1/2 cups flour, erring on the side of less if dough seems to be getting tough. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl [*Alli’s note: you can do this by hand; it’ll just be difficult.  You may have better luck kneading the last bits of flour in on a floured surface]. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.  [*Alli’s note: You can also do this with the dough hook in a stand mixer.  It shouldn’t take more than four minutes.]

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.  [*Alli’s note: I put a glass of boiling water next to the bowl with the dough, then overturn a brown paper bag on top.]

For filling:

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at one long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.  [*Alli’s note: I’ve also baked these in greased muffin tins.]

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze:

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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