The one thing every good baker needs to have in his/her repertoire is a no-fail recipe for cinnamon rolls, right? But I’ve never really had one – I love them, but a little too much, if you know what I mean. Best to avoid the temptation of an entire pan of cinnamon rolls altogether by just not making them at home. Also, I lived in Chicago for a number of years, and with Ann Sather right around the corner, with its World-Famous Cinnamon Rolls, there was really just no point to making them.
I’ve accumulated various recipes, over the years – I have a recipe that I was assured (by the pastry chef at one of the major downtown hotels in Chicago) was identical to the one Sathers uses (there’s also one here that claims to be official). I probably should have started with that one, but What Geeks Eat’s Brioche Cinnamon Rolls came up onto the screen, and I couldn’t help myself.
I don’t often make yeasted doughs, for a few reasons. One, I only (currently) have a smaller Kitchenaid mixer (the 4.5Qt), and it really doesn’t like doing bread dough. It complains. It hops. It heats up. It packs its bags and starts to head for the door when it sees one coming. I love my Kitchenaid (don’t tell it that I’m planning to acquire a second, larger one, shhh), it’s been a faithful companion to me for over 15 years now and I plan to have it for another 15, so I try to avoid making things that tax it too much. The RSIs mean that I can’t knead dough by hand, so that’s also an automatic limiter on any type of yeasted dough.
Second, the only time I’ve ever had good success making yeast doughs that raised well was when I was taking the breads class at the community college. I don’t know if it was the incredibly fresh yeast, or the proper temperature space in which it could rise… I just know that it’s never that easy at home. Even with fresh yeast bought from the grocery store (as opposed to dried), I have trouble. This time it was finding a warm place for the dough to rise. All summer, it’s been nicely hot and humid, perfect dough weather. But do I make these in the summer? No! I crave warm, yeasty breads in the fall and winter, when my house rarely rises above 65F and the humidity isn’t much to speak of.
This time was no exception. We’ve had a nice cool snap, and the house was around 68F or so. I made the dough and put it in the fridge to rest overnight; took it out in the morning and let it warm up for an hour, then rolled it out and formed the rolls. So far, so good:
Then, waiting for them to rise. “Wait until doubled in bulk”. Right. Half an hour later – no action. I have an electric oven (I know, I know, I hate it too), so that’s not really useful. Maybe if I put the oven on 200F and crack the door, and put the rolls on the stove above it… An hour later, still little action. Completely opened the door of the oven and sat the sheets of rolls onto it, turning them regularly so that the butter wouldn’t melt, and eventually they started to puff a bit, which would have to do, as I have other things to do than to babysit stupid cinnamon rolls.
Baked them up (oops, overbaked the first batch), slathered them in glaze, and…
Well, I can say that I’d do some things differently next time. First of all, smush them all in a pan together rather than separating them out. I like soft edges on my rolls, and these all had pretty firm walls. The dough was light enough inside, but the texture was still just not what I am going for in a cinnamon roll. It was more bread-y than anything else, and I like them softer and richer than that. I’d use nuts (probably pecans) inside. I’d wait to glaze them until they’d completely cooled.
So, not there yet. But at least I didn’t eat the entire pan…