Happy Friday everyone!
Sorry for my lengthy post-valentines day hiatus. The third trimester has made me a little slow in the kitchen and I've had my hands full with family. Like my mother, who was in town last week and thinks a day at the spa is a better use of my time than baking (hey, I'm not going to argue). Then we had Mr. Humble's laptop crashing and needing to be resurrected after the latest Windows 7 service pack, something that makes the Mac user in me smirk with smug hipster superiority.
Mr. Humble (and his laptop) were necessary for today's post, since we're using one of his bread recipes. A recipe I've been begging... scratch that, demanding he make in recent weeks. You see, I've had some pretty crazy pregnant woman cravings for all things creamy. Cheesecakes, eclairs, cream puffs, donuts, and cinnamon rolls topped with pillows of creamy goodness. Knowing that Mr. Humble's soft, tender enriched white dough makes a beautiful cinnamon roll, I lobbied hard.
Of course, once I actually got my wish for a pan of delicious freshly made cinnamon rolls, I spent more time eating them than photographing them. Thus all I have to accompany this post is a bunch of photos of minimally-staged cinnamon rolls that are in the process of being eaten.
Photographing food while pregnant is hard!
So let's get down to the how-to.
You will find that this recipe is far simpler than the sourdough cinnamon rolls found on NSHP. This recipe also produces a very soft, tender roll without the need for a sourdough starter or lengthy cold ferments. The rolls can be turned out and baked in a few hours, given optimal rising conditions in your kitchen.
Alright, I'm going to let my resident dough-maker and crazy pregnant woman care-taker commandeer the laptop and give you the run down for this dough. Before I do so though, I will mention that this is a very common tried and tested dough recipe in the Humble household, one we use whenever we require a delicious and quick enriched dough. I use it for Mother Humble's caramel pecan sticky rolls and I also bake it into loaves for a soft and tender bread. Loaves that make fantastic french toast when sliced.
Over to you Mr. Humble...
Mr. Humble's Cinnamon Roll Dough
Yields one 9"x 13" pan of rolls
Bread Flour: 700g
Whole Milk: 475g
Active Dry Yeast: 10g
Salt (Kosher): 14g
As you might have noticed, everything is by weight. I don't know how much it is by volume, and I'm a hardliner when it comes to baking by weight. I wouldn't even give a coworker one of my bread recipes until he bought a kitchen scale. So, if you do not have a kitchen scale, you will need one for this recipe.
I have active dry yeast on hand, but you can use other types as well. Simply use the following conversion factors: 1g Instant = 1.25g Active Dry = 2.5g Fresh.
When I make this dough, I weigh out the milk, butter, and eggs and set them aside to warm up to room temperature. I cut the butter into small cubes before weighing to make it easier to soften and handle when mixing everything together.
Weigh out your dry ingredients, and whisk them thoroughly to combine.
After everything is room temperature and ready, it is time to mix. I only mix bread by hand. In fact, I don't really know how to do it properly in a stand mixer. For me, mixing the dough by hand is an important part of making bread. You also learn a lot about what's going on with the ingredients as they slowly become dough. So, I will suggest making this dough by hand (and because I have no idea how to tell you to get the same results with a mixer).
Take your dry ingredients bowl and make a small hole in the middle of your flour mixture, and begin adding your milk, eggs, and butter. I mix with a wooden spoon or silicone scraper. To begin, slowly mix in circles around your liquids and incorporate the flour in the middle, expanding to the edges. After this, I begin folding the ingredients from the edge to the center, pressing down in the middle. Scrape down the side to incorporate anything that is stuck, fold to the middle, press, then turn the bowl and repeat. Don't forget about the bottom; make sure you don't have a layer of flour accumulating under your dough.
When the ingredients are more or less fully combined, you will have a very sticky mass of almost-dough. At this point it will be time to continue mixing outside of the bowl. Prepare a clean, dry section of counter-top and scrape your not-quite-dough out of the bowl and onto the surface. It is very sticky and it will be difficult to work with at first, but do not put flour anywhere on the dough or on your counter top or on your hands. Just prepared to make a mess until the dough comes together...and have a scraper handy.
If you want, you can dip your fingers into cold water before handling the dough. This will buy you approximately 4 seconds of clean fingers, and generally isn't worth the bother. As much as possible, use only your fingers to handle the dough. It will minimize the amount of dough that ends up sticking to you until the dough comes together properly.
For the mixing at this stage, I strongly suggest using a French fold variant. It is a very good method for hand mixing wet doughs, and there are even a few videos online demonstrating it. I think there is a link on this blog to one, even.
(Ms. Humble: There is one rather vigorous display of sticky dough handling contained within the Doughnut Post. However some slightly less aerobic French folding videos can also be found out on the web.)
Essentially, with this method, you pick up the very sticky mass with your fingers, swing the bottom up and slap it to the counter, then fold the part in your hands over the top. Then you pick it up, turn, and repeat. It is not easy at first, and it is messy on your fingers, but it is very effective. After a few minutes of this, your dough will stick to you and the counter a lot less and mainly to itself. When the dough doesn't stick to you so much any more, you can then knead the dough in pretty much any way that is comfortable to you. All that matters is that you continue mixing until you have reasonable gluten formation.
With this dough, fancy gluten windows and whatnot are completely unnecessary. You should not have any dry bits, and it should be a more-or-less cohesive blob of dough. It will be a little soft, but still fairly stiff because the gluten is not well formed.
When done, form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly-oiled bowl. The bowl should have enough room for the dough to double in size. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise. The time it takes to double in size will depend on the temperature of your room. If it is warm, it will rise faster, with less flavor from the yeast. If it is colder, it will rise more slowly, have a slightly different flavor, and the dough will be softer.
Unless it is really cold or your yeast is dead, the dough will eventually double, or nearly double, in size. At this point it is time to make your rolls.
This is where Mr. Humble passes off the bowl of dough to me and I get down to the serious business of assembling the rolls.
Now you have your soft mass of dough ready for rolling and cinnamon-ing. You should roll out the dough into a rectangle. How thick or thin will depend on how you like your cinnamon rolls. A thinner larger sheet will produce rolls with thin spirals, a thicker sheet of dough will produce rolls with thick spirals. Generally I roll this dough a bit larger than a standard half sheet pan, using a bit of flour to prevent sticking.
To fill the rolls you will need the following:
Cinnamon Roll Filling:
Melted butter (Salted or unsalted, your choice. Both have their merits here)
1 cup golden brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Combine the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until evenly mixed and lump free. Brush your sheet of dough with the melted butter and then sprinkle with a generous coating of the sugar mixture. Use it all.
Then working with the long edge of the dough sheet, roll the sheet onto itself to form a spiraled log of dough. Use a piece of dental floss or thread to cut the dough into evenly sized disks (how thick is the baker's preference. I like to cut mine just over one inch thick. If you want really massive rolls, be prepared to bake them in a smaller pan).
Arrange the rolls in a lightly buttered 9" x 13" baking dish, leaving space between them so they can expand and rise (more space than shown above. Not sure why I photographed them squashed like that...). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and preheat your oven to 350°F. (You can now freeze the rolls for later, allowing them to defrost and rise before baking.) Allow the rolls to rise in a warm spot until doubled and then you're ready to bake.
|Ready to go into the oven.|
Place the rolls into your oven and bake until golden brown and the dough reaches an internal temperature of 190°F. This will take roughly half an hour.
Then pull out your rolls and prepare to slather with my favorite cream cheese frosting.
Light, creamy and not too sweet, this is one of my favorite cream cheese frostings. Lightened with whip cream, it is a wonderful light but stable frosting. Of course we're talking light in the context of texture, not calories. The frosting is fantastic on carrot, red velvet cake or my pumpkin spice cake, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and even a dip for dunking fruit.
This recipe probably makes more than enough for the rolls above, but I admit to dolloping an obscene amount onto my oven fresh buns. That's just how Ms. Humble rolls.
|A Lighter Silkier Cream Cheese Frosting|
Ms. Humble's Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Can and should be halved for more modest, non-crazy pregnant woman portions
16oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold. Higher the fat content, the better (I'm using 40% Ultra)
Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.
Slap goose-egg sized portions of the whipped cream cheese onto your hot cinnamon rolls and consume with pregnant woman-like abandon.