Cinnamon Rolls do require advance planning, but for anyone who has had the fabulous ones at Ann Sather’s, I promise, this recipe is worth the effort! My kids love Ann Sather’s and I found an Ann Sather cinnamon roll recipe on-line a few years ago (I have since discovered this recipe, published by the Chicago Tribune). It made 18 small rolls and used margarine in the glaze. I wanted a big fat cinnamon roll, dripping with sweet glaze so I adjusted the recipe to make 12 instead of 18. I also used butter in the glaze as margarine doesn’t really have a place in my baking (shortening does though).
The rolls use scalded milk. I never liked making scalded milk, as I’d usually forget to watch the pot while it was heating and it would boil over, creating a huge mess on my stove. I also never took the time to cool the milk – I can be very impatient when I want to finish a recipe. I thought maybe I could skip this step, so I googled “why scald milk for breads?” and got this answer from theKitchn: In bread making, scalding the milk serves a more scientific purpose. The whey protein in milk can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Scalding the milk deactivates the protein so this doesn't happen. As soon as it mentioned a "scientific purpose", I knew I couldn't forgo scalding the milk.
Thanks to my class at the French Pastry School, I now I have this handy Taylor Digital Thermometer so it was easy to cook the milk to the recommended temperature of 180, then let it cool before adding to the bread. I do know that if the liquid is too hot (over 140), it will kill the yeast. I usually didn’t want to wait long before using the milk and would add it to the bread after a few minutes,. I didn't have clue as to the temperature. This time, I waited for the temperature to drop on the milk and it took so much longer than expected. After 20 minutes, it was still hovering around 120. At this point, I added it into the bread anyway (I poured it from about a foot about the bowl, hoping it would cool on the way down). Cooler milk made a huge difference in the size and texture of the finished rolls and these were, without a doubt, the lightest, fluffiest rolls I have ever made. Looking back, I will bet that my milk was too hot and I killed most of the yeast when I made this recipe before. Lesson learned: although people will eat most anything made with butter, sugar and cinnamon, scald the milk first and take the time to cool to the proper temperature for the best results. You can use the cooling time to dissolve the yeast, measure your other ingredients and prep the filling. I've updated the recipe to better sequence the steps you should follow.
I’ll be making Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning. Advance prep is required because Christmas morning is all about waching my darling children, opening gifts and drinking coffee; it is not about fussing over a fancy breakfast. I already made the dough (doubled this recipe and froze half). On Christmas Eve, I’ll set the frozen rolls in a 13x9 inch pan, then refrigerate it overnight. On Christmas morning, I’ll put the rolls on the counter while I brew the coffee (OK, Bob will do brew the coffee – his is better than mine) and preheat the oven. The rolls will rise for about an hour while we open gifts, then I'll bake for 20-25 minutes while I finish up the rest of breakfast. They will make Christmas morning with my family even sweeter.
- 1 cup milk, scalded, cooled (I used non-fat milk)
- 1 1/4 oz. envelope active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water (110* F)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-1/2 to 3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature (I microwaved it for about 30 seconds on defrost so it was very soft)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon milk (I used non-fat)
Scald the milk by heating to 180 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, it will start to form small bubbles around the outside of the pan when it is ready). Cool milk to about 120 degrees. I mixed the melted butter with the milk and made sure the temp for the combined liquid was 120 degrees before I added it to the dough. It took about 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in milk, melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and 1 cup of flour. Beat all of this with a spoon or an electric mixer until smooth (I used my Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment). Gradually stir in 1-1/2 cups of flour, keeping the dough smooth. If the dough is still moist, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to make a soft dough. I used 2 cups of flour total for this step. Cover with plastic wrap, then a dry cloth and let it rise in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (mine rose on my kitchen counter for about 2 ½ hours; I had to make dinner before I could roll the dough. The extra rise time didn’t hurt the process).
Spread 2 tablespoons of the soft butter over the top of the dough. My butter was very soft; I used a pastry brush to spread it over the dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Beginning on the long side roll up tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cut the dough into 2-inch slices.
Place in greased 13x9 inch baking pan. To freeze dough: after slicing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator the day before you plan to use it, then let rise overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, let rise at room temperature for one hour before baking. To prepare one day in advance: Refrigerate dough overnight. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and let rise for one hour before baking.
While rolls are baking, prepare glaze. Sift sugar into a bowl. Add butter and vanilla. Mix well with a spatula. Add 1 tablespoon milk.
Place rolls on a wire rack to cool. Immediately glaze rolls (I used the spatula to spread the glaze onto the rolls; it is thick, but works very well). Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!