BBA Challenge Bread #8: Cinnamon Rolls!

It’s really random that Elissa ended up making cinnamon rolls when I was supposed to be making them for the BBA Challenge . . . but it means two posts about almost the same thing, very close to eachother! I thought we could do a compare and contrast between the two recipes, but it turns out they barely resemble each other at all. Who knew you could make cinnamon rolls in so many different ways?

As far as I know/remember, I’ve never actually eaten homemade cinnamon rolls before I made these. Growing up, cinnamon rolls were a too-sweet thing you purchased at Cinnabon in a mall food court (hey I grew up in Jersey, where malls are king!), and which my sister and mother loved but that my dad and I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of before feeling nauseous. Fast-forward to this crazy challenge of ours and I found myself wondering just what a homemade version of those things would be like. I’m happy to say there were delicious, not too hard to make, and wonderfully received by my coworkers!

I was really happy when I read through this recipe and realized I could make it in one morning instead of over the course of two days! While I initially intended to make a half-batch, I totally forgot about that when I started measuring ingredients and so ended up having to make a full batch (or start over, which I didn’t feel like doing!).

I decided to use shortening instead of butter to see what that would do to the texture. The first step is creaming the wet ingredients together:

Then the dry ingredients are combined separately:

And mixed in:

I though the dough seemed a bit too sticky so I decided to first knead it in the machine and see if it behaved. After about 8 minutes of kneading it was still sticky and couldn’t pass the windowpane test, so I dumped it out on the counter to knead by hand:

It ended up sucking up a lot of flour during the hand kneading and after a few minutes passed the windowpane test. I put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap to ferment and went off to run some errands for a while. When I came back the dough had grown very nicely:

(You just have to believe me because I didn’t take a “before” shot for some reason!)

Following the instructions in the book, I sprayed the counter with spray oil and dumped the dough out. A quick roll with my $1.50 rolling pin from Pearl River Mart and I had a nice pizza-like layer:

Then I covered it with the cinnamon sugar mix:

And started rolling it up:

Very quickly I had a log!

I wasn’t sure how tightly the log had to be rolled, and I was worried that I might have made the dough too thin, but I decided to stop obsessing and just move on. Next I cut the dough into slices:

And laid them out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet:

I was annoyed at how much cinnamon-sugar fell out of the rolls when I lifted up the pieces:

See how you can tell exactly where each roll was by the lines of cinnamon-sugar left over? I briefly considered sprinkling the leftover sugar on top of the rolls, but then I remembered just how unhealthy these already were and decided they could survive without the added sugar . . . which is totally true by the way . . .

After a little over an hour’s rising time, the rolls had grown nicely:

While they baked, I whipped up the glaze:

I’d made glaze a few times before, but never quite in this way. In the past I’d made glaze on the stove and added the sugar to the milk. The recipe calls for no heat, and adding the milk to the sugar! I tried it the book’s way and I have to say it was exponentially easier. I’ll be making glazes this way from now on! What you see here is enough for a half-batch of glaze, which turned out to be plenty (for my taste!). By the time I was done with the glaze and had cleaned up some, the rolls were ready to come out of the oven:

I was so impressed when I saw what came out of the oven, I yelled to Adam to come look! I’m not sure what I expected but I was really happy with how they came out, believe me!

After about a 10-minute rest, I drizzled glaze over them using the whisk to scoop up and drizzle the glaze on the rolls:

If possible, the rolls looked even better once the glaze went on top:

At this point I had to figure out a way to get the rolls out of the cookie sheet so they could cool on a rack. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it until I remembered that there was parchment paper underneath all that gooey goodness . . . I ended up just grabbing a corner of the parchment paper and pulling it horizontally as quickly as possible, while wishing I had an extra hand so I could cross some fingers while I did it. Surprisingly, all the rolls stayed together while I did this and the entire thing transferred to the cooling rack without a problem! Those of you who haven’t tried these yet, don’t worry too much when it comes time to transfer the rolls to the rack, it really will work itself out.

Once they were cool enough to eat, we dove right in:

They were awesome! The texture of the dough itself was definitely crispier than a commercial cinnamon roll usually is and I’m sure that’s because I made them with shortening instead of butter. Next time I’d like to try the butter to see how the dough changes! Either way I’m 100% sure they’re better than the stuff we got at the mall growing up . . .

I took 8 of these to work with me on Monday morning and they were all gone by the next day. Doesn’t sound like much but you should know there are only like 10 people in my office, and I didn’t eat any myself! I think that sort of coworker response speaks for itself, don’t you?

Want to join us in the BBA Challenge? Get yourself a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, the incredibly comprehensive how-to-book for bread, and play along! Full details on the challenge are here.

7 thoughts on “BBA Challenge Bread #8: Cinnamon Rolls!”

  1. I made this recipe into sticky buns and they were dangerous! I had to give away right away…There is one on the freezer waiting for my hubby to get home…I am so tempted to defrost and eat right now! Happy Baking!! PS you’re right the mall has got nothing on these!!

  2. you make it look so easy! have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls since forever but i’ve always been a little scared of it. hopefully i’ll try this soon!

  3. I actually read the first Cinnamon Buns post and thought it was also for the Challenge. They really were different, but as delicious as the ones from the book. These are equally as awesome. I particularly love the end-piece, as I also had one, and, visually, it was more interesting than the standard ones.

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