I love cinnamon rolls, and I do not make them nearly enough. Every time I make them, I am usually dissatisfied with the end result. I can never get them just right. I made this recipe once before, and they were good, but not perfect. Well, the fact that I am sharing this recipe with you is a testament to the adage “Practice makes perfect”.
Be patient with this recipe. It takes time, and a lot of it, to make this recipe, but the results are worth it. Trust in the recipe. I was a little weary at first, because it seemed like the dough did not want to rise at all. I thought the yeast had not been activated properly, and I was getting discouraged. There had been a bit of a rise, but nowhere near the doubling in size the recipe is supposed to do. Since this is Annie’s recipe, she has some great troubleshooting tips as well if you take a gander over to her blog!
Then, I decided to leave it alone, not monitor the dough constantly, and Paul and I went for a quick walk. I came back, and magic happened! The dough rose, to the doubled size, and everything turned out.
Like I said, trust the recipe. If you are patient, this recipe will turn out. As a side note, here is a tip for helping dough to rise. I find that no matter where I live, my house is always a bit on the cold side. Not freeze-your-butt-off-cold, but slightly chillier than comfortable. (Before you say so, we always have the furnace turned on when it’s cold. The only time we don’t have the furnace on is in the summer. Apparently, Paul and I have bad luck with choosing houses that don’t always hold as much heat as they should. Side note over, sorry!)
It helps when you have a bit of a drafty house, to turn on your oven to about 200°F, let it preheat, then turn the oven off. Leave for about 5 minutes with the door closed, then place the yeasted dough into the warmed oven. The residual heat from the oven will help your dough to rise, which is especially helpful in a place like Southern Alberta, where the winters and falls can last for longer than you think, and get quite cold.
Cinnamon rolls are so great, because they are extremely versatile. Paul is a fan of raisins in his, I am a sucker for the classic, cinnamon sugar filled, glazed roll. You can frost them instead of glaze them, throw some fruit, chocolate, caramel, or nuts in there, the possibilities are endless!
Yield: 8-16 rolls, depending on cut size (I cut mine quite large, and got 9 rolls)
For the dough:
6½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5½ tbsp. butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest
3½ c. flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 1/8 c. to 1¼ c. milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
For the filling:
6½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
For the glaze:
4 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. lemon or orange extract
6 tbsp. to ½ c. warm milk
For the dough, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon extract or zest until smooth. Add in the flour, yeast, and milk, and mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook, and increase the mixer speed to medium, mixing until the dough is silky and supple, tacky, but not sticky. You may need to add small amounts of flour or water to get the dough to the proper consistency.
Lightly oil a large bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours, sometimes longer.
After dough doubles in size, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and set aside. Lightly spray your countertop or a large wooden cutting board with cooking spray. Transfer dough from the bowl to the oiled surface, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Roll out the dough gently, being very careful not to roll the dough too thin or too hard, or the dough will become tough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle. The larger the rectangle, the thinner the rolls, and you will get more rolls.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the rectangle, and roll into a log, from the long side of the dough rectangle. Keep the dough roll as tight as you can while rolling. With the seam side down, cut into equal sized pieces, thicker for larger and less rolls, thinner for smaller and more rolls.
Place the buns about half an inch apart on the baking sheet, so they are close, but not touching. Leave to proof at room temperature about 75-90 minutes, until they have nearly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool the rolls on the pan for 10 minutes. While rolls are baking and cooling, prepare the glaze. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add the warm milk to the sugar a few tablespoons at a time, whisking briskly. Add in the vanilla and the orange or lemon extract. Add more milk as needed, as when finished, the glaze should be a smooth, thick paste. Drizzle the glaze over the slightly cooled rolls, and allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes longer before serving.