Every year for probably the past eighteen years, our traditional Christmas breakfast has consisted of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that come in a tube. Because they smelled and tasted good, because they were super easy, and because we’ve had so much chaos and small children to deal with, not much sleep, and knee-deep wrapping paper. It was all we could manage.
But one of those small children has grown into a budding baker, and this Christmas she offered to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. She found a recipe in one of her Christmas presents from last year, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. This cookbook has produced some incredibly delicious and amazing treats this year.
These cinnamon rolls were probably one of the best things yet.
These cinnamon rolls were not to sweet. The density was perfect – soft, yet with a thick and satisfying chewiness, almost biscuitlike. The cinnamon center was incredibly rich and wonderful, and the icing had a little tang of cream cheese. It was so deeply satisfying and decadent, and was definitely a special treat, yet wasn’t overly sweet.
These are hands-down going to be the new Christmas (and maybe New Year’s!) morning tradition. Recipe from: America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
(recipe after the break)
Quick Cinnamon Buns
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Make the buns
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Generously coat both a 9-inch nonstick round cake pan and a wire cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray.
Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough. Melt the total amount (7 tablespoons) all at once in a heatproof measuring cup, then use it as needed.
For the filling, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and the 1 tablespoon melted butter together in a medium bowl until the mixture resembles wet sand.
For the dough, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until absorbed (the dough will look shaggy), about 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pat the dough with your hands into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough.
Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface. Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and with your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place.
Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan. Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate. Place the greased cooling rack over the plate and invert the buns onto the rack. Cool about 5 minutes before glazing.
Make icing and finish buns
While the buns are cooling, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet. Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth glaze forms about 30 seconds. Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns; serve immediately.