Merry Christmas. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day. Things here at chez Wicked Whisk were lots of fun. Thing 1 oohed and ahhed her way through three hours of presents while Thing 2 stared somewhat slack-jawed at all of the colors and lights.
Then after the orgy of present opening was over, we feasted on strata and the most delicious cinnamon rolls ever created. While I realize that many have had their fill of rich food by now, this recipe is one you should try to squeeze in before the New Year’s resolutions.
Serving cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning has long been a tradition in my family, one that I am proud to keep alive now that I have a family of my own. Historically, we always had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls but last year, I went on a search for something better. I found this recipe for cinnamon rolls from Alton Brown. I generally like Alton Brown so I gave them a whirl. Once I had one, I was completely hooked. These really are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever eaten… just the right ratio of roll to cinnamon-flavored brown sugar and topped with a sweet and creamy icing.
The best part about these rolls is that most of the work has to be done the night before. That makes them perfect for a morning when you want something delicious but don’t want to have to work too hard (*cough* New Year’s day). The dough is made, rolled, spread, and shaped the night before. The next morning, the rolls are proofed with a bit of boiling water in the oven, then baked. The icing takes minutes to make and spread once the rolls are baked. So while these rolls are excellent on Christmas morning, don’t wait that long. Make and serve them on New Year’s day as one last hurrah before we all go back to our healthy eating habits.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from Alton Brown
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar (approximately 1/4 cup)
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted (approximately 6 tbls)
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 4 cups), plus extra for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast (approximately 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
vegetable oil or cooking spray
8 ounces light brown sugar (approximately 1 cup)
1 tbls ground cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
3/4 ounce unsalted butter (approximately 1 1/2 tbls)
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (approximately 1/4 cup)
3 tbls milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.
While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.