Saturday, January 23, 2016

Best Dang Cinnamon Rolls.

The search is over. After several years and innumerable recipes, I have come up with the best dang cinnamon rolls, EV'AH. Hands down. I have searched Pinterest, recipe magazines and websites, popular blog sites, and scoured old recipes. I have baked multiple batches of a wide assortment of rolls and every time walked away disappointed in some aspect. Vowing to return to the kitchen for another round in a few weeks. Until today! We had a "snow day"...which around these parts means a few flakes were noticed and it was really cold, thus everyone should shutter themselves inside like they live in one of those REAL winter locales like DC or NYC.
The laundry was up-to-date, grocery shopping had been completed yesterday (in anticipation of snowmageddon, of course), the house was clean (thanks to the potential of putting it on the market recently), and dinners have even been made and put away for the next week. There truly was NOTHING for me to do but enjoy the day! So, I decided to tackle the subject of cinnamon rolls...AGAIN.
Boy I am glad I did! I had gone in search of Cooks Illustrated recipes a few weeks ago and come across The Way the Cookie Crumbles take on CI's recipe. I made a batch one afternoon and they were good, but I knew they could be slightly tweaked and be off the charts. I liked her version because it wasn't tooth-killing sweet and wasn't ridiculously fat-laden or gooey. I am not a huge fan of super ooey gooey, ridiculously sweet, over-the-top cinnamon rolls. I like them soft, fluffy, balance of sugar and cinnamon, with a hint of cream cheese and a nice thick icing.
Today, in my quest, I decided to search (AGAIN) and came across Oh Sweet Basil's self-proclaimed "world's best cinnamon rolls".
I sat down and wrote both recipes side by side to compare ingredients and ratios. I was immediately struck by how much butter and sugar were in Oh Sweet Basil's...I mean seriously. THREE cups of sugar just for the filling??? No thanks. I knew her recipe might not be entirely for me, but I did like a few aspects and decided to try and incorporate them into TWTCC's version to create a new hybrid recipe I could call my own. They were AMAZING. Perfect. Well, my cinnamon roll perfect.
If you like super sweet, over-the-top gooey rolls, these ain't yo thang. If you enjoy a fluffy, soft, sweet/cinnamon, nicely balanced roll...give them a go. You won't be sorry!

This version makes 24-36 rolls (Depending on how thick you cut them. I cut mine approx. 1in thick and had almost 36)

Total time: roughly 5 hours

1 c warm water
5 tsp active dry yeast (I really like Fleischman's)
1/4 c whole milk
1/4 c heavy cream (if you don't have this on hand, sub whole you'd have a total of 1/2 c)
1/2 c buttermilk (again...if you don't have it, use whole milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice--let it sit for a min and thicken)
14 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 c (3.5 oz)  + 2 tsp sugar, divided
2 whole eggs + 4 yolks (freeze those egg whites for another recipe!)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp salt
6 c APF
2 c bread flour
1/4 c corn starch

1. Melt butter and set aside to cool. in a separate large bowl mix salt, flours, corn starch and set aside.
2. heat milk (just the whole milk + cream) in microwave until warm, stir in buttermilk.. Should be slightly warm to touch
3. In large mixer bowl combine water, yeast and 2 tsp sugar. Allow to sit and proof 3-5 min until frothy.
5. While waiting, mix together remaining 1/2 c sugar, eggs, yolks, vanilla and butter; set aside
6. Add milk mixture to yeast mixture, stir.
7. Add egg/butter/sugar mixture to yeast + millk mixture. Stir on med low using dough hook for a minute or two until mixed.
8. Add 3 c flour mixture to yeast mixture and stir on low (2 ish on the kitchen aid) until mostly incorporated. Add flour 1/2-1 c increments (keeping speed low to prevent flour splattering everywhere!) until dough ball forms cohesive dough, clearing sides of bowl and is smooth, elastic ball.
9. Dump dough into a well greased large bowl, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise 1-2 hrs. until doubled in size

While you wait...Mix up filling:
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened so you can easily smear it

Combine sugars, cinnamon, salt and cornstarch in a bowl. set aside.

...DING! Dough has risen nicely, now onto the next step!
1. Dump it onto the counter and split it into 2 equal dough balls. Roll each out into approx. 16 in x 12 in rectangles.
2. Schmear 4 Tbsp softened butter (from filling recipe) onto each rectangle, covering each entirely.
3. Divide the cinnamon/sugar mixture equally onto each rectangle. spread it all over, leaving approx. 1/4" border along one long edge of each rectangle.
4. Starting on the opposite long edge as your empty border, begin rolling the rectangle into a long log (approx. 16 in), aiming to keep your edges all lined up at the top and bottom of the log. Gently pinch the seam closed when it's completely rolled. Mark 1 in or 1.5 inch increments along the rolled log.
5. lightly grease a 9x13 pan
6. Using dental floss, slice your rolls off at the measured markings and arrange cut-side up in your 9x13 pan, allowing a little space between each (12 should fit nicely); if you have me, feel free to use an 8" round pan (I had 18 rolls total from each rectangle)
7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 1-2 hours until doubled in size again (Mine seem to be perfectly ready around the 1.25-1.5 hr mark)

Pre heat oven to 350F.
Remove plastic wrap and bake 20-28 min until lightly (VERY lightly) browned (or temp registers 185-188 degrees F internally--this is definitely my preferred gauge)

Remove and allow to cool 10 min. While you wait and resist picking a bite...Mix the ICING!
6-8 oz softened cream cheese (depending on how cream cheesy you like your frosting)
4 Tbsp softened, unsalted butter
2-3 c powdered sugar (sifted) amount depends on your sweetness preference
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-8 Tbsp millk (or cream if you have it!)

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add powdered sugar. Mix together until well mixed, add in vanilla and 4 Tbsp milk. Adjust consistency to your liking with adding more milk.
SCHMEAR it all over those rolls and sit yo'self down for a well-deserved snack break!

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