I’m on another baking adventure, this time with the Avid Bakers Challenge/ABC group. We’re baking monthly, using recipes from The Weekend Baker by Abby Dodge. By coincidence, Abby is the sponsor of the #baketogether group. There is no connection between the two groups. In keeping with my general philosophy on baked goods and baking – that you can never have enough of them - instead of choosing between the groups, I decided to join both.
This month’s ABC recipe is Glazed Cinnamon Rolls. I've loved cinnamon rolls ever since I was a kid, but have never made them from scratch. Growing up we had the ready-bake kind in the refrigerated tube. Not exactly gourmet, but they did leave an indelible sense memory of sweet smells as I came downstairs on weekend mornings. I’m writing this post as my newly-baked cinnamon rolls are cooling on a rack next to me. Although the aroma is transporting me back (and driving me crazy with the desire to wolf down 1 or 2 rolls right now), I'll try to stay focused on the baking process.
The Weekend Baker is particularly great because it includes instructions on how to prepare the recipes as a series of “do aheads.” I love having dough in the freezer to pull bake at the last minute or frozen goodies that just need to be defrosted and finished off at the last minute. I plan to serve these rolls at Sunday brunch this weekend, though I’m not sure they’ll all make it to the freezer once they cool. (Spoiler alert for my brunch guests!) I’ll add the icing at the last minute – after defrosting and reheating the rolls.
This recipe uses quick yeast (not “regular” yeast), but don’t let that name fool you. The recipe still took several hours to prepare because it has a number of steps, the dough has to be kneaded for about 10 minutes, and rises twice, each time for at least 45 minutes. Still, if you have the time and patience, these cinnamon rolls are well worth the effort. So far, I've only snagged a small piece that “fell” off of the sample I iced, but it was divine. I gave the sample to a neighbor and now my anticipation of the Sunday brunch is almost beyond words.
I made 3 changes to the recipe as it that appears in The Weekend Baker. First, I’m trying to like whole wheat more – or at least to use whole wheat flour more often in baking. So I substituted white whole wheat for ⅓ of the all purpose white flour. Second, where the brown sugar for the swirl was supposed to be either light or dark, I used a combination of half light and half dark brown sugar. Third, I added a mix of dark and yellow raisins to the cinnamon and sugar swirl. I’ve learned that soaking raisins in heated juice plumps them up nicely before baking. I heated a bit of orange juice and left the raisins soaking while the dough rose the second time.
The recipe includes instructions for kneading the dough either in a stand mixer or by hand. I decided to knead it by hand because I love the feeling of working with dough, turning it from a shaggy mess into a smooth round shape.
If you’re into baking, I hope you’ll consider buying The Weekend Baker. But if you don’t have the book yet and want to try the recipe, it is on Cookstr. That site lists the skill level as “challenging” but don’t be put off by that label if you are a novice. Check through some of the ABC bakers’ posts on this recipe and you’ll find lots of helpful pictures and hints.
I hope my cinnamon roll adventure inspires you to bake.
We had the rolls for Sunday brunch (as planned) and they were delicious. I took the rolls out of the freezer on Saturday night and left to thaw in the plastic bag on the counter. Then, I warmed them for about 20 minutes in a lightly oiled pan in a 350 degree oven before adding the icing as described in the recipe. I only made half of the icing called for in the recipe, and used less than half of what I made. Also, I found that the icing needed much more milk/cream than the recipe called for in order to get it to the right consistency for dribbling over the warm rolls. Next time, I'll make 1/4 of the icing called for (maybe 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar) - it will be plenty for my taste.