This is how we roll…

by Matt on March 29, 2007



There are benefits to being married to the world’s best partner. He’s fun, he’s got groovy tattoos*, he juggles three demanding dogs and a job and he likes to surprise me with tasty treats after long days at work. In fact when I got home yesterday he made carnitas. Carnitas! Damn if this white man hasn’t perfected Tex-Mex and Mexican food, slowly working his way through Chile Rellenos, Mole, Tortillas and Enchiladas. You taste his cooking and realize it’s made with love and talent. Thank god for my big redhead, and thank god I love to eat.

I don’t remember what we were talking about but the other day I made a comment about my disdain for those mall-type cinnamon places. They make cinnamon rolls as big as your face that are purposely practically raw and so sweet you either get a stomach ache or your teeth begin to rattle in your head. Cinn-a-Raw or Cinn-a-Blech or whatever you call them. I know some people love them but I am not one of them, and trust me, I can get down-and-dirty, no food snob here! I like things a bit more balanced, which explains why I’m crazy about half-sweet desserts and the latest craze for sweet-with-salty. After going off as I’m used to do doing (opinionated? stubborn? me? me?) Adam mentioned a recipe for cinnamon rolls that are neither too sweet nor too raw, and since they are made at home from scratch one can control the level of doneness, right down to the frosting. I said "Well knock yourself out, babe!" and in true Adam fashion he took the challenge with spirit and grace.

I just didn’t know how long it would take.

As you may know, I don’t really bake. I eat. And boy am I ever good at that. But Adam is precise, paying attention to every nuance and step, right down to closing off the kitchen and turning on a space heater so that his dough will rise on a chilly Southern California afternoon. If that’s not pure love then I shall never know it, I am convinced.

After slaving away in the kitchen over two batches of fresh cinnamon rolls while I played clean up crew (it’s all about give and take, working together and compromise, ya know!), I was face to face with warm cinnamon rolls, freshly frosted and ready to eat. Of course I had to take pictures and asked Adam to whip up a frosting I could drizzle for a photograph, and wouldn’t you know it he was accomodating. His rolls were so perfect I didn’t even know which image I wanted to post, hence the collage of cinnamon-y goodness.

After packaging some extra rolls up for his mom and our friend, I finally enjoyed what I was craving thanks to the generousity of my man. And can I tell you what he did with the leftover cinnamon rolls? He made bread pudding. My heart be still.

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls from Baking Illustrated
The book says that since cinnamon is the predominant flavor you should use a high-quality cinnamon. You should always use high quality spices, I say.

1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups (20 to 21 1/4 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. For the dough: Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan or in
the microwave until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat and
set aside until the mixture is lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together
the water, yeast, sugar, eggs, and yolks at low speed until well mixed.
Add the salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups of the flour and mix at
medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the
dough hook, add another 2 cups of the flour, and knead at medium speed
(adding up to 1/4 cup more flower, 1 tablespoon at a time, if
necessary) until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the
bowl, about 10 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work
surface. Shape the dough into a round, place it in a very lightly oiled
large bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm,
draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. For
the icing:
While the dough rises, combine all of the icing ingredients
in the bowl of a standing mixer and blend together at low speed until
roughly combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and mix
until the icing is uniformly smooth and free of cream cheese lumps,
about 2 minutes. Transfer the icing to a small bowl, cover with plastic
wrap, and refrigerate.

4. To roll and fill the dough: After the
dough has doubled, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured
work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 by 12-inch
rectangle, with a long side facing you. Mix together the filling
ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the filling evenly over the
dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the far edge. Roll the dough,
beginning with the long edge closest to you and using both hands to
pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Moisten the top
border with water and seal the roll. Lightly dust the roll with flour
and press on the ends if necessary to make a uniform 16-inch cylinder.
Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces
using dental floss and place the rolls, cut-side up, evening in the
prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm,
draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. To
bake the rolls:
When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven
rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the
rolls until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into
the center of one reads 185 to 188 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Invert
the rolls onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Turn the rolls
upright on a large serving plate and use a rubber spatula to spread
icing on them. Serve immediately.


*PSA for the day: Many people with tattoos and body modifications are intelligent, educated people. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, even art directors! It’s always ok to ask someone about their tattoos and big earlobes–always. It’s not always polite to stare and point. Modifications like big earlobes and piercings have been practiced globally for thousands of years and I always find it strange that people still freak out about it in this land of plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. Remember, we’re all the same inside!