Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze
FoodFairly easy but decadent

Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze

A sweet treat to break the fast

Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze (Photo by Jessica Grann)

Homemade cinnamon rolls are made with run-of-the-mill ingredients, but the flavor is incredibly decadent, and these have become a special treat for my loved ones and me.

It took me years to get the result that I was looking for — a pastry dough that is strong but soft, a filling that is not dry and stays in place while baking, and a light vanilla sugar glaze that isn’t too sweet or too runny.

One of the reasons that I love cinnamon rolls is that they just get better the closer you get to the center — and the flavor in the center of this roll is divine. The cinnamon filling seeps out a little and bakes into the bottom of the dish, creating little pieces of chewy sugar that remind me of toffee. Real butter is used in every step, and you can be sure that this recipe will taste better than anything that you can get from a fine bakery.

I have a lot of dairy recipes that can be made pareve. This is not one of those recipes — enjoy it as is with real milk and butter. I suggest letting your stand mixer do the work and knead the dough with a bread hook because milk doughs are sticky to knead by hand.

I failed many times trying recipes for cinnamon rolls. The dough often came out dry, but I found that using bread flour as opposed to all-purpose flour made all the difference.

Although there are a few different steps, this is a fairly easy recipe.

Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze

For the dough:
2¾ cup bread flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons (¼ cup) melted butter
1 packet of yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
1 large egg at room temperature

For the filling:
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup gently packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted before measuring
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

To prepare the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl and whisk it together.

Attach a dough hook to the mixer.

Measure the milk and butter into a medium-sized saucepan and warm the milk to 105 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, keep in mind that you want it to be warm but not boiling, so be careful not to scald the milk.

Take the pot from the heat and stir in the yeast.

Cinnamon rolls with vanilla glaze (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Let it rest for 3-5 minutes before turning the mixer to low and adding the hot milk to the flour. You can use a rubber spatula to clean the milk pan and get any bits of yeast from the pan into the mixing bowl.

Turn the mixer setting to low and when the milk and flour are about half combined, add 1 egg. Continue to mix for 3-5 minutes or until well combined. This is a sticky dough to handle, but it will form into a ball. Do not add any extra flour.

I drizzle about a teaspoon of cooking oil over the top of the dough and use a big spoon to turn the ball of dough in the bowl a few times so that the oil covers the surface of all sides.

Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

While the dough is resting, melt the butter for the filling and add it to the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, giving the ingredients a good stir so that they are well combined.

I roll out the dough on a marble pastry board or a very clean countertop. The oil that was added at the end to the dough should be enough to make the dough easy to work with. If it seems very sticky, you can put about a teaspoon of oil onto your surface, spread it out with your hands, then place down the dough.

Use a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle, about 10-inches-by-16 inches. You won’t get a perfect rectangle — just roll it out as well as you can.

Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over the dough.

Start turning the dough in on the longer side and roll it by hand as tightly as you can; pinch the ends to keep any extra cinnamon-sugar from escaping out the sides.

Use the sharpest knife in your drawer to cut 10 to 12 evenly-sized pieces.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate or a deep square baking dish.

Arrange the pieces in the dish. You can leave a bit of space between the rolls because they need room to expand. If the pieces seem a bit loose or floppy, don’t be concerned because it will all come out in the end.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for 60 minutes or until they double in size. If you let the dough rise on top of a warm oven, be sure to turn the dish a quarter-turn every 15 minutes so that the pieces rise evenly.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F. I find that they bake best if the rack is in the middle of the oven.

Remove the rolls after 1 hour or when the internal temperature hits 195 F. Overbaking can cause dryness, so watch them carefully toward the end.

While the rolls are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter and milk until nicely combined, then add in the vanilla and salt and whisk the ingredients a few more times.

A crust will appear on this glaze after sitting on the counter for a few minutes. Just give it a good stir right before you add it to the warm cinnamon rolls.

Let the rolls cool for 10-15 minutes after removing them from the oven, then use a spoon or spatula to cover the tops with the glaze. Allow the glaze to seep in for 10 minutes.

Use a knife to gently cut around and remove each roll.

You can serve these warm, but cover them with plastic wrap once they are completely cooled to keep the dough from getting dry.

Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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