[Updated January 2012]
Kim here, with buns in the oven. No, that's not a euphemism. Cinnamon buns, you guys!
There isn't a breakfast food that makes me feel any more like a kid than cinnamon rolls. I mean, steel cut oats make me feel wholesome, healthy, and responsible. These are all good things to be sure; but on Sunday, after a week of poached eggs and steel cut oatmeal and asparagus frittata? Bring on the sticky, sweet icing.
Especially if that icing is smeared on cinnamon rolls made with brioche dough. Brioche is one of my favorite things in life. These cinnamon buns are improbably airy and light (especially considering there is a stick of butter beaten into the dough), with a soft, tender center. I'm so craving one right now.
And now I turn the keyboard over to Mark, to blog about his sweet, sweet cinnamon buns. (In case you're wondering about my contribution, I took the pictures and spread the icing and ate my fair share. This marriage is an equal partnership.)
Cinnamon Brioche Rolls
This recipe combines a bunch of recipes, which I developed after several attempts to make cinnamon rolls. Essentially, the brioche is adapted from The Bread Bible (printable PDF here), while the filling and icing are adapted from a recipe appearing in Food and Wine magazine.
Makes one (1) 9 or 10 inch pan of cinnamon rolls.
For the brioche dough
Combine the following in a large mixing bowl:
2 Tbsp water) (30 grams, room temperature)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar (13 grams
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (71 grams)
1 large egg
Thoroughly whisk (for 2-3 minutes) until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
In another large mixing bowl, whisk together:
1 cup plus 1 1/2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour (156 grams)
2 Tbsp sugar (25 grams)
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Pour this mixture over the dough mixture and cover with plastic wrap. Let this rest for at least 15 minutes, and up to 2 hours. The longer rest will add more flavor, but it is not completely necessary if you're in a hurry.
While the dough mixture rests, soften 1 stick of unsalted butter (you want this to be very soft).
When you are ready to mix the dough, add 2 cold eggs. Then, using a stand mixer with a dough hook on low, mix for a minute or so until the flour is incorporated into the dough. Then raise the speed to medium for 2 minutes. If necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 5 more minutes. Now begin adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, beating until the butter is incorporated before each new tablespoon. The dough will be incredibly sticky when you're done. Use an oiled spatula to scrape it into a lightly greased/oiled bowl to let it rise.
Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Then move the dough to the refrigerator to cool it so that it is easier to handle. Cool for about an hour.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the following:
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/8 cup packed light brown sugar (81 grams)
3/4 stick softened unsalted butter
Work the ingredients together to make a paste. Set aside.
Assembling the rolls
Unmold the refrigerated dough onto well-floured wax paper or silicon baking mat. Press the dough into a rough rectangle; I aim to make mine roughly 10 x 15 inches. If the dough is cool enough, it should not be too sticky to roll, but a floured rolling pin will help you get a good/flat rectangle. If it is too sticky to work with, place the dough in the freezer for a few minutes to help the dough firm up. Once you get a good rectangle, place the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to handle.
Next spread the cinnamon-sugar-butter mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough (a frosting spreader does a great job here). With the long side of the rectangle facing you, begin rolling up the dough. An oiled bench scraper can help you as you go if the dough is sticking to the baking sheet/silicone mat, as will popping the dough briefly in the freezer as necessary. When you are done, you should have a single long roll of dough.
After a brief freeze, you can now cut it into 1-2 inch long sections (being careful not to use a knife that will cut your silicone mat, if you're using one). You can cut them into shorter or longer sections to obtain fewer, larger rolls, or more, smaller rolls as desired.
Place the rolls in a 9 or 10 inch round pan that is lightly greased. You want to arrange them (with the cinnamon spiral showing on top) roughly evenly across the baking sheet. As the rise/bake, they will likely expand to tough each other, which makes the inner rolls very soft. If you prefer a crispy exterior crust on your rolls, then place them with a couple inches between them on a large baking sheet.
I prefer to do everything up to this point the night before, and so I usually pop these rolls in the fridge to rest overnight.
One hour before you are ready to bake the rolls, remove them from the fridge, and begin preheating the oven to 375 F. Regardless of whether they have been refrigerated, the rolls need one hour to rise before you put them in the oven. The rolls should bake for approximately 30-40 minutes (if you want to be exact, they should reach an interior temperature of 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). To help keep the exterior of the rolls soft, it helps to add some water or ice cubes to a hot pan at the bottom of the oven. If the rolls begin to brown early in baking (after about 20 minutes), cover them loosely with aluminum foil. After removing them from the oven, let them cool for 5 minutes or so while you make the best part.
Whisk together in a medium bowl:
1 cup confectioners' sugar (115 grams)
2 Tbsp softened butter
2 Tbsp heavy cream
pinch of salt
That's it... now you just have to spread on the icing and then try to stop yourself from eating the whole pan by yourself.
In conclusion, I (Mark) would like to place a moratorium on any jokes around here about even the prospect of multiple buns in the proverbial oven. Thank you.