Many factors go into making the ultimate cinnamon roll. First, you want a cinnamon roll that is moist and won’t be rock hard the next day. The Japanese have solved this problem by using a Tanzhong. Tanzhong is a mixture of flour, milk, and water that you cook on the stove for one minute then mix into the dough. It assures the cinnamon rolls will stay soft.
Second, the flour needs a chance to absorb moisture. Letting the dough rest for 20 minutes before you kneading gives the flour a chance to absorb more moisture. Even the type of flour used makes a difference. This recipe uses bread flour. Bread flour absorbs more moisture than all-purpose flour. Even something as simple as how thick the cinnamon rolls are cut makes big difference in the texture of the rolls. These cinnamon rolls are cut 1½ inch thick and rise over 2 inches making them soft and tender.
Third, the ingredients you use really do make a difference. There is no such thing as a diet cinnamon roll! For truly delicious cinnamon rolls, use ingredients that contain fat like whole milk, butter and eggs. This is not the time for using lean dough. As I always say, “Go big or go home!”
Last, Don’t use additional flour when you knead or roll out the dough. It dries the dough out. Use nonstick Canola oil spray instead.
Cinnamon Rolls– makes 24 rolls
5 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons whole milk
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon bread flour
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan with a wire whisk until smooth. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens. This will take about a minute. (When the whisk leaves lines in the dough it is ready.) Remove from heat and set aside.
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
5 and 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons iodized salt
2 packages instant or rapid rise yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Heat butter and milk until temperature is 120-130ºF. Mix all dry ingredients with a stand mixer using the flat beater. Add Tanzhong, milk mixture, eggs and vanilla to dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Let dough rest for 20 minutes so the flour can absorb more moisture. At this point you can either use your bread machine, dough hook (If you use the dough hook the dough will still be sticky when you finish) or knead the dough by hand for 6 to 8 minutes. If you knead the dough by hand use non-stick canola oil spray instead of flour.
After kneading the dough, spray a plastic bowl with non-stick spray. Place dough in bowl, spray top of dough with nonstick spray and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Use a large enough bowl that the dough can almost double in size. Use your microwave as a proofing box. Place bowl in microwave and shut the door. Let dough rise for 60 minutes. Make filling and icing while the dough rises.
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and add to softened butter. Set aside.
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of iodized salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
Start with 2 tablespoons whole milk and add it to the rest of the ingredients. Add enough additional milk to make a very thick, (about the consistency of whipped cream cheese) but spreadable icing.
Shape the Rolls
Spray clean countertop and rolling pin with non-stick canola oil spray. Remove dough from microwave and press gently to deflate. Divide dough in 2 equal portions. Roll each piece of dough with a rolling pin into an 18 X 8 inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle of dough with half of the softened 1/3 cup butter. Sprinkle each rectangle of dough with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture leaving a 1 inch cinnamon sugar free border on one of the long sides of each rectangle. (This buttered dough edge will seal the log.) Starting on the long side that has cinnamon sugar to the edge, roll the dough into a log.
Cut each log into 12 slices, each slice 1½ inch thick.
Rise and Bake
Spray a glass or ceramic baking dish with non-stick spray. Place cinnamon rolls in a 13 X 9 inch baking dish and let rise in the microwave for 45 to 60 minutes Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Dough temperature at the center should be 188ºF. Most of the rolls will be pale. Only the rolls that are the tallest will be brown. Remove rolls from the oven and ice while hot. Happy Baking!
Published in The News and Neighbor on December 23, 2020.