Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls - and OUCH!

I'm still reading through my copy of Baking by James Peterson and decided to try my hand at the recipe for cinnamon rolls. I love cinnamon rolls. In particular I love Orange Cinnamon Rolls and often pick up a can of the refrigerated kind at the grocery store for a great snack.

What started out seeming like a breeze almost ended up in a kitchen disaster, though! The bread dough was quite easy to do and tasted wonderful. However, the recipe given for the filling left something to be desired (in my opinion). Peterson's recipe calls for a cooked brown sugar and butter filling. I was a little skeptical because it seemed that it would not be the texture or flavor I prefer in cinnamon rolls. But, I was game so went forward.

Flash forward to the actual baking process. The rolls had risen beautifully and were ready to go in the oven. The recipe calls for preheating the oven to 400° and then immediately dropping the temp to 350° when you put the rolls in. I checked my oven thermometer to make sure the oven was heated properly and popped in the rolls for the required 30 minutes.

Everything smelled lovely at first. I sat down to wait for my buzzer (which I always set about 10 minutes earlier than in the recipe). Suddenly, the smell of cinnamon rolls gave way to a burnt sugar smell and smoke! Oh no!

I quickly turned off the oven and snapped on my kitchen fan. I grabbed an oven mitt and took the rolls out. They looked fine and beautifully brown but the sugar filling which had to be pre-cooked had run out of the bottoms of the rolls and was smoking like all get out!

Somehow, when I grabbed them out of the oven I managed to get a bit of the sugar on the oven mitt without realizing then I made the mistake of picking up the mitt and moving it out of the way. Nothing burns like hot sugar! OUCH!

Luckily, I had a glass of ice water nearby and plunged my finger into it immediately and then filled a large bowl with ice and water and soaked it for about 30 minutes off and on. It was a nasty burn but I managed to avoid an even worse outcome thanks to having the ice water nearby.

Still, I realize that since my transplant and the resultant pain of that experience I have absolutely no pain tolerance anymore! Oh well, it's finally begun to stop burning and I've wrapped it with antibiotic ointment and covered it to prevent infection (always a concern for those of us who have to take drugs that suppress our immune systems.)

Not my most fun baking experience at all.

But, I did finally get around to tasting the rolls. The dough is wonderful with a light cinnamon and orange flavor but as I expected the filling left much to be desired. It's too crisp - almost like a candy and was stuck mainly to the bottoms of the rolls. So, I iced them with a little of my usual orange icing and they seem to be OK.

All in all, I like this dough for cinnamon rolls but need to find something else for a filling that is more in keeping with my tastes (and also more safe if you're a klutz!) I'm thinking of one that Ina Garten gives in her Back to Basics cookbook for her Cinnamon Rolls made with puff pastry. It seems easier to work with and possibly more flavorful.

So, here's the dough recipe and my caveat to use your favorite cinnamon roll filling from another recipe (Ina's will be my choice if and when I try this again).

 UPDATE: Since this recipe makes quite a few rolls, I put them in my big cake carrier to keep them fresh. I noticed today when I opened it and tried a roll they were actually much better than just after I'd made them. The filling, which had hardened had softened and soaked into the rolls giving them a wonderful moist texture with hints of butterscotch and sugar. The orange glaze I'd used had also mellowed a bit and was delicious alongside the delicate cinnamon and orange flavors in the bread itself. All in all, not a bad turnout despite the burned finger! (Which was also much better today.)

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1 cup barely warm water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. grated orange zest
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine the yeast with 1 cup of the flour and the water and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume. Add remaining flour, cream, egg, salt, and flavorings. Using a mixer with a dough hook, knead for about 7 minutes on medium speed (increase speed if necessary to get dough to "slap" sides of bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour or until doubled in volume.

Punch dough down gently and and press/roll into a 14 inch square on a smooth oiled surface (like a sheet pan). Spread filling of your choice over dough leaving about 1/2 inch border. Fold dough just over edge of filling on one side and pinch. Roll up dough tightly and use a sharp knife of dental floss to cut rolls about 1 inch each. Place rolls on greased or nonstick pan and cover with plastic wrap and allow to puff up for about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush rolls gently with an egg wash and lower oven temperature to 350° (Note: Peterson calls for 40 minutes in the oven. My rolls took about 20. Watch VERY carefully.)

Remove rolls onto wire racks to cool. Ice or glaze if you wish.


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