My mom, Rebecca, has a close childhood friend who grew up in the south of France, now lives in Paris and is a great cook.
Last time she visited us in Seattle, she asked me a serious question: “Chere Sadie,” she began, “why are you Americans SO obsessed with cinnamon?”
Well, if that wasn’t a call to action I don’t know what is. I promptly whipped up my favorite recipe for the most delectable, gooey cinnamon rolls, those made of pure, pillowy goodness. Let’s just say that when these beauties came out of the oven, both the Americans and French had frosting and crumbs guiltily spread across their faces.
This recipe is a perfect before-school breakfast treat. You can make the rolls the night before and reheat; they’re still amazing.
I hope you love it as much as I do!
Small microwave-safe bowl (or glass measuring cup)
Microwave (or use a saucepan)
Stand mixer with paddle attachment
Two 9-inch square glass baking dishes
Ingredients for the dough:
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ½ cups (or more) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
2 ¼ teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
One pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Lets get started!
1. In a small microwave-safe bowl (or glass measuring cup), combine the milk and butter. Heat in the microwave until the mixture is hot and the butter is almost melted, 30 to 45 seconds.
2. Pour this mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer (or into a larger bowl, if you’re using your super-human arm strength!). Add the first cup of flour as well as your sugar, egg, yeast and salt. Beat on a low speed for about three minutes. Add the remaining 2 ½ cups flour. While scraping down the sides, continue to beat on low until dough is sticky and all the flour is incorporated.
3. If your dough is still very sticky, you can add a bit more flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball shape. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. For about eight minutes, knead your dough until it looks smooth and is stretchy.
4. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly oiled bowl (you can use butter or spray to grease bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for about two hours or until it has doubled in size.
Mix your brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and salt in a small bowl.
Assembling the rolls:
1. Remove plastic wrap and punch down your dough (make a fist and punch directly into the center of the dough ball. You’ll like this part!). Then turn out the dough onto your floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a 15-by-11-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with softened butter. Then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly (you can press the mixture into the dough so it sticks).
2. Starting at a long side of the dough, roll dough into a log shape. Then, with your fingers, pinch the seam to close it and position your dough so that it is seam side down. Cut the dough log crosswise with a sharp knife into 16 to 18 equal slices, about a half to three-quarters of an inch wide.
3. Grab your glass baking dishes and generously grease with nonstick spray or butter. Evenly divide the rolls between the dishes and cover them with plastic wrap and a small towel. Allow the rolls to rise for about 40-45 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the rack in the center of the oven and bake until the top of the rolls are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove rack from oven and transfer rolls to a cool rack or work surface. Cool for about five minutes. While the rolls are baking, prepare your icing.
Combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. With your paddle attachment (or using arms), beat the mixture until very smooth. Apply a thin layer of the icing, using about a third. Let the rolls cool for another 10-15 minutes. Top with the rest of the icing (you can sprinkle more cinnamon) and enjoy!