Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Whenever the heavy rubber-lipped subway doors spring open at Eglinton station here in Toronto, a gust of sweet cinnamon fills the train. Other passengers don’t seem to notice, no one’s eyes light up, nor does anyone breathe deeply, taking in the sugary scent, or how, like me, I immediately perk up from my seat, a smile slowly spreading across my face and worries of my tardiness to my appointment dissipates as the buttery aroma of fresh, yeasty rolls float into the TTC.

There is a Cinnabon or something with the similar name on the basement level of a mall in MontrĂ©al (another evil decoy to tease hungry subway goers), always luring me to stop by and buy a cinnamon roll but I’ve always resisted the urge. The only time I did give in to its seductive scent was at the Cinnabon at Union Station. I bought one with my then-boyfriend, an impulse purchase in our morning rush to some event we were on our way to. 

The cinnamon roll was given to us in a large turquoise box, similar to the paper boxes that McDonald’s packages its Big Macs, and for a second, I thought we bought a quarter pounder, the box was heavy and as I peeked at the cinnamon bun, it was massive, large enough to feed a family of four. Its microwave warmth numbed my hands and I grabbed a handful of napkins to clean up the thick, glossy syrup seeping through the folds of the cinnamon roll.

Yet I don’t remember how it tasted at all. Clearly, it wasn't enough for me to turn back on my heels and demand the young cinnabon server to hand me over the recipe lest I call the cops for his disobedience.

So I made these cinnamon rolls, yeasty buns to be shared with friends and family and even a stranger or two. I promise they will be remembered, engraved in your palate memory for many years to come, you won’t be able to resist their sticky, cinnamony fun. From the day these bad boys are baked to the end of their lifespan, they will be the reason to get up in the morning. Forget coffee, forget breakfast, forget work, these cinnamon rolls my friends, is your new reason to live. 

Written by one of my favourite food bloggers, Molly Wizenberg (whose book the Homemade Life made me cry when she pours her heart out about the French boy who broke her heart), this recipe has been sitting in my ridiculously long list of “Must-Make” recipes for a much too long. If you start on it now, you could have fresh, warm, cinnamon rolls in less than three hours. To help you pass the time, you could busy yourself reading this (hilarious!) or this (heartbreaking!) while the dough rises or make plenty of this to enjoy with the rolls, and trust me, the three hours will pass very quickly. 

You don’t even need a stand mixer (though I’m counting on you Santa), since the dough easily comes together in a few steps. Besides, who doesn’t like playing with food? Or revelling in that soft, silky feeling of flour between your fingers? Or the way a sticky, raggedy mess transforms into a smooth ball with just the kneading of your palms? This takes a bit more time than say, quick breads, but it was well worth the extra effort. Really.

In other news! Guess who I had the honour of meeting last week? Another of my favourite food bloggers: Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini. She gave a talk on the Art of Food Blogging and George Brown College, part of the Stratford Chef School Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence. I’ve never pounced on anyone before, not even James Franco (Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to drool on you). She’s the sweetest, kindest person and I’m glad she didn’t call on security given the eager way I urged her to sign my cookbook. Thanks to Lisa for taking the picture!

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from Bon Appetit by Molly Wizenberg

I wanted an extra crunch in my rolls so I added chopped almonds in the filling though I think walnuts works splendidly too. I also halved the amount of glaze as I prefer a little less in my baked goods, but if you like glaze, feel free to refer back to the original recipe.

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough:
1. Melt butter in milk over small saucepan over medium heat until mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2½ cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, a sturdy wooden spoon works fine too, it just takes a little more effort, but hey, you get an extra bicep workout!) If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball. 

2. Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. 

For filling:
3. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped almonds in medium bowl. 

4. Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide). 

5. Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes. 

6. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up. 

For glaze:
7. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe here!

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