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Those swirls of tender, pillowy soft rolls with ooey-gooey swirls of cinnamon-sugar, walnuts and raisins. Pulling apart fluffy layers dripping with caramelised goodness. Who needs therapy when you’ve got them? After having one-too-many cinnamon rolls/sticky buns from bakeshops around, I was convinced that these golden brown deliciousness can never enjoyed as often as I would like, without bursting a coronary or even a button for that matter.

Instead of unknowingly shovelling an insane amount of butter, white refined sugar, bleached flours into our mouths (Cinnabon, i’m looking at you!), I decided to make my own.

First, was to work out a recipe that would produce soft, fluffy base without being laden with fat or filled with weird food additive (like bread improvers, softeners, etc.. wth, really?) A tablespoon of fresh orange zest added a little extra something to the dough. Then, for the filling: cutting down the unnecessarily large proportion of butter. (Side note: an obscene amount of butter in a recipe seems to give most people an assurance that it would turn out ah-mazingly good. So wrong!!). To up the flavour quotient, I finally settled on a mix of spices + good french butter + dark brown muscovado sugar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and a little black pepper. Unorthodox, but it works. Lightly toasting the walnuts and pecans greatly enhances their nutty aroma. Oh, then there are rum-soaked raisins. I also skipped the signature cream cheese icing – no way was I going to douse all those rich, warm, earthy flavours with a blanket of sweet frosting. After a number of tweaks and alteration to my recipe, here it is — Cinnamon rolls/buns (my way)

Cinnamon Rolls
this recipe make seem daunting (with the massive list of ingredients and steps) but it is not that difficult, really!
2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup unrefined cane sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup unsalted french butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tbsp fresh orange zest, finely grated
2 1/2 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 cup organic unbleached high-protein flour (bread flour)

1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each of ground nutmeg, cloves, ginger
a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins, pre-soaked in rum
1/2 tsp salt
6 T unsalted french butter, at room temperature

You could do this in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment and save some elbow grease. For me, I decided it do it entirely by hand. So here are the directions if you do not own a stand mixer or love an at-home arm workout (:

For the dough, since we’re using instant yeast, there is no need to ‘wake the yeast up’. Dump all the ingredients, except for the butter. Arm yourself with a wooden spoon and mix away until a sticky mass of dough forms. Begin to work the softened butter into the dough. At this point, I like to switch to using my hands and knead the dough in the bowl for about 10 minutes. Leave it to rest for another 10 minutes. Then, place the dough on a well-floured work surface and continue kneading for another 10 minutes. (Use the push and roll method to knead) You might need an up to an extra 1/3 cup of flour. We are looking for a smooth, elastic dough + well combined. Now set it in a well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Prepare the filling while the dough rises. Combine everything, except the butter and raisins and mix well. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, roughly less than 0.5cm. (usually, the recipe would require you to brush melted butter over the dough, but this can get messy). Instead, spread the softened butter over the dough and scatter the filling + raisins over, making sure to coat evenly. Leave a strip of dough on the other longer end uncovered, so that it can be sealed proporly. Roll it up tightly, starting from the longer end. Using a sharp serrated knife, or a thread, slice the log into your desired thickness. Arrange them in the baking tins, leaving some space btw them. Let the cinnamon rolls rise a second time, about 1h. I like to sprinkle the tops with a bit more brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C until golden brown and delicious!

*proportions are given in cups, tsp and tbs this time, because I do not measure precisely (to the gram) when making breads. Ratios depend on the humidity, ingredients and brand of flour used.

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