Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

I love a good sweet roll, especially one that is cinnamony. Throw in a little cream cheese and I'm in heaven. These cinnamon rolls are just right. They're moist, but not gummy or soggy in the middle. They have a great ratio of bread to filling. And even though the long directions may sound complicated, they're really very easy. You can even do all the work the night before and bake them the next day (perfect for Christmas morning). I already made these again this morning for New Year's Day (no wonder my stomach looks like a cinnamon roll).

Yield: 8 large rolls

1 (¼-oz.) package active dry yeast
½ teaspoon plus ¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 ¾ cups flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature), plus more for the pan

½ cup sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners' sugar
¼ cup buttermilk

1.      Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, ½ tsp. of the sugar, and ¼ cup water heated to 115° F. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 ½–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
2.      Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Stir in maple syrup. Set aside.
3.      Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10" x 10" square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it's smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10" x 20" rectangle.
4.      Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9" x 13" light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight.)
5.      Heat oven to 375° F. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
6.      Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.
7.      Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle all over the rolls. Serve immediately.

yeast, sugar and water
yeast foamy; adding remaining sugar,
milk, brown sugar, vanilla and egg
adding flour and salt
adding butter
The dough never really pulled away from the sides
and it looked so soft to me, I was a little worried
I'd done something wrong - but as you can see,
it all worked out. Adding lots of flour as you
knead and roll helps get the right consistency.
all the filling ingredients mixed
(I used golden raisins, so they're hard to spot.)
dough risen
kneading the punched down dough (or more
accurately, trying to knead the dough with my right
hand while I take a photo with my shaky left hand)
dough rolled into a 10" x10" square (roughly);
starting to spread the cream cheese
cream cheese spread
first fold
second fold
third fold
fourth fold
dough rolled into a 10" x 20" rectangle
(again, roughly)
dough brushed with butter
and topped with filling
sliced into 8 pieces
placed in the pan
rolls after rising

I made mine the night before and put them in the fridge
right away because I was going out. And even though
the recipe says to take out and leave at room temperature
for only 15 minutes, it was chilly in the house, so I let
them sit out for about 2 hours so they would rise enough.
baked cinnamon rolls
brushing with butter
drizzling with icing

I didn't use all the icing, it seemed like a little too much.
cream cheese cinnamon rolls
cinnamon roll cross section

In case you're wondering why my kitchen looks so different...I didn't move;
I was at my in-laws' house (these were baked on Christmas morning).

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