Way back in fifth grade, long before I knew I was interested in food writing, we had to write an essay for English class describing a personal expertise. I wrote about being an expert at loving cinnamon.
In the ensuing years, I’ve dumped McCormick for the freshly-ground Korintje variety from the Spice House, but my passion for cinnamon endures. You may have noticed that it’s a common theme in the recipes I’ve posted here.
So when I saw an episode of “Good Eats” featuring a recipe that didn’t require getting up at the crack of dawn, I began looking for an excuse to try my hand at one of the purest forms of cinnamon adoration: the breakfast baked good. I mean, it’s a hell of a way to start a day, right? The only problem: I’m one person, and the recipe makes a dozen sinful rolls.
A few weekends ago, I had some friends over for the weekend, and I decided that enough is enough. Even though there were only 3 of us, I made the darned cinnamon rolls. A girl can only wait so long! It worked out perfectly–I, the night owl, did the prep the night before, and my friends, who are morning people, took care of the final rise and the actual baking and frosting. Talk about teamwork.
The verdict? They were everything I hoped they would be. Truly things of beauty–and delicious, too. I could have eaten all 12 by myself, but showed uncharacteristic restraint.
I believe the only change we made to the original recipe was to double the cinnamon content. (In my household, a teaspoon means a tablespoon when cinnamon is involved!)
One of these days, I really should see if that essay is with my school papers.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Alton Brown’s original masterpiece
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray
8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.
While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.