Thursday, November 27, 2014

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Every year, for Christmas, I make eclairs from scratch.  They're relatively easy to make, and can be done the day before, so Christmas morning, a special breakfast is ready while we open gifts!  The only problem with them, is that my husband doesn't eat them.  I always feel guilty that we're tearing into the eclairs, and he's sitting there watching us (I do offer to make him something else, but he usually isn't worried about it).  However, this year, I think these little lovelies will be joining my eclair breakfast table....

My husband loves breakfast, but Friday night, I ask him, "What would you like for breakfast in the morning?"  "Eh, nothing, don't worry about me."  And he ends up just scrambling some eggs or something along those lines, while my visions of pancakes, or waffles goes down the drain.  Although, in his defense, he does get up an hour or so before I do on the weekends, so by the time I get up to actually fix breakfast, he's already eaten.  
Which is one of the main reasons I seldom make cinnamon rolls.  To make cinnamon rolls, you usually have to get up hours before everyone else, to make the dough, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again, then you get to bake them!
If you have a family that is ready to eat by 7 in the morning, that means that you have to be up and moving in the kitchen by 5.  Nope, that's not for me.  On the weekends, I take my sweet time before getting out of bed, then I come down, get some coffee and then do I think about breakfast.  And by then, it's about 9:30 or so.  
This recipe changed things around for me.  With these cinnamon rolls, everything gets prepped the night before, so that the only thing you have to do in the morning is take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking, then bake them for 25-30 minutes, and you look like a superhero!  

Here's your grocery list for this one:
For the dough:
1 C milk
1/3 C butter
3/4 C granulated sugar, divided 1/4 C and 1/2 C
2 1/4 tsp yeast, or 1 packet
4 1/2 C All purpose flour (plus another cup or so for kneading)
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:
4 Tbs butter, softened
2 Tbs  ground cinnamon
3/4 C brown sugar

For the icing:
1 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C powdered sugar, sifted
2-5 Tbs cream or milk

I always feel weird just posting pictures of a liquid in a pot, but I try to show things every step of the way, so here we have the first step: put your milk into a pot; bring it up to a bare simmer over medium low heat.  Once it starts to bubble up around the edges, add in your butter and stir until the butter has fully melted.  Let this mixture cool down to lukewarm; you want this to be about 100* or so, so if you stick your finger into the milk, and it feels hot, it's too hot for the yeast you're about to add in.
I put my milk and butter mixture into my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and let it run for about 45 seconds, to cool it off.

Once the milk and butter has cooled down enough, add in 1/4 C of sugar, and your yeast, giving it a quick stir, and set this aside for about 15-20 minutes, so your yeast activates.

While you're waiting on your yeast, put you the eggs. remaining 1/2 C sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, and mix to just combine and beat the eggs.

Add in 3 cups of the flour, and mix to just combine.  The dough at this point is going to be very sticky.  Add in the additional 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until it is all mixed in.  It is still a sticky dough, so when you turn it out onto a surface to knead it, make sure your surface is well floured.

I ended up adding in another 1 1/2 cups of flour during the kneading process, but you want to knead this dough for about 8 minutes, when it is smooth and elastic.  It will still be a little sticky, but not nearly as much as it was.  Put it back into your mixing bowl, with about a tsp of vegetable or canola oil, and turn the dough over, so it is oiled all over.

Once your dough is oiled, cover it with a towel and set it in a warm place to rise, for at least an hour.  You'll want it to roughly double in size, if you can.  Like I mentioned in my fresh bread post, I like to let my dough's rise in my oven, with the light turned on, but if you have a warm house, leaving it covered on the counter is fine.  While you're waiting on your dough to rise, put 3/4 C of the brown sugar in a bowl, with 2 Tbs of cinnamon, and mix together, for the filling.

I let my dough rise for 2 hours, because I got caught up making supper, but this worked out just fine.  Once I was ready to roll out the dough, I sprinkled my counter top liberally with more flour, and rolled it out to a rectangle, roughly 10"x14".

Once everything is rolled out (and this dough rolls out very easily), spread your softened butter all over, leaving a 1" lip on the long far side.  On the far side of the dough, brush the 1" with water, to help seal the dough after your roll it up.  

After your butter is spread out (I just spread it out with my fingers), spread the brown sugar and cinnamon all over it.  This brown sugar and cinnamon mixture is just enough to cover everything.  Once you have it spread evenly, slowly begin to roll your dough up on itself, trying to keep it as tight a roll as possible.  I didn't do anything extreme about it while I was rolling it, I was just trying to keep it a tight, consistent roll.

Once your rolls are, well, rolled up, turn the log over so that the seam is facing up and pinch it shut.  I rolled my log around a bit, making sure that the filling was evenly spread, and the layers were tight inside.
You can cut your cinnamon roll log up with a knife if you'd like, but I like to cut mine with dental floss.  Ideally, you'd used unflavored, but I only keep mint floss on hand, so mint floss it gets (you can't taste it).  Either way you cut it, start in the middle, and cut the log in half, then cut each log in half after that, and so on and so forth, until you have at least 12 rolls.  I ended up getting 15 out of mine, but as long as they're evenly cut, the amount doesn't really matter.
Anyway, I cut mine with dental floss, so that the cut is clean, and I don't end up smashing the delicate dough.  I scoot the floss under the log, and cross the threads over each other, and pull it.  Like tying a knot, without actually tying it.  You can tie a knot if you'd like, but its not necessary.

This floss cuts the dough cleanly, without smashing the dough and the layers in between.

Lay each cut roll into a greased 9"x13" pan, cover with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge over night!  

The next morning, take your rolls out of the fridge, and set them on the counter for 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and preheat your oven to 350*.  While you're killing 30 minutes, you may as well make up the icing (if you want any).  In a small mixing bowl, put the corn syrup, 2 Tbs of cream (or milk), and vanilla and mix to combine.

Sift your powered sugar, and add to the liquid.  This will form a very thick paste, and you can add as much cream or milk to thin it out, as you would like.  

I ended up adding in another 3 Tbs of cream, to get this spreadable frosting.  Keep in mind that cream is heavier than milk, so if you're using milk, the amounts may very.
Once the oven is preheated, put your rolls in, and let them bake for 25-30 minutes, checking after 25.

Oh my, do these puff up in the oven.  These are honestly, sweet enough to not need an icing, but for me, a cinnamon roll just isn't a cinnamon roll without it!

This dough bakes up to be a very tender sweet bread, and the middle stays moist, due to the butter.  This recipe is definitely a keeper, and one that will be a staple on our holiday breakfast table!