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Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Rolls

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Happy New Year!  The #1 resolution people to make is to lose weight.  If you've resolved to lose weight, I am sorry that this post will not help you.  It will, however, give you a delicious, homemade treat. 

I had wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls for a while, and chose Peter Reinhart's recipe from previous successes with his recipes.  These are good, but unfortunately, I'd still prefer store bought, so I'm still searching for my holy grail recipe.  I am not sure if it was the cinnamon to sugar ratio or the bread to filling ratio or what.  I can tell you that they are better the day after they're baked, reheated, and re-iced.  They get gooier. 



Making cinnamon rolls from scratch takes a long time, but you will be rewarded by the praise you receive when you serve these and tell people they're homemade, as well as being able to control ingredients, ratios, and toppings.  They also make a lot of rolls, so you'll be able to give them as a gift or freeze them for later enjoyment.  This particular recipe divides the work into two days, but I still recommend making them the day before you'll want them.

I made a simple milk and powdered sugar icing to go on top of mine.  The second batch I put in a bit of light corn syrup and that helped to keep it smoother and to prevent it from hardening up as the rolls cooled. 



Cinnamon Buns
from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday

Dough
6 1/4 cups (28 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp (.5 oz) salt or 1 tb Kosher salt
6 Tb (3 oz) sugar
5 tsp (.55 oz) instant yeast
2 cups plus 2 Tb (17 oz) lukewarm milk (not skim)
1/2 c (4 oz) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
zest of 1/2 lemon, 1 Tb lemon extract, or 1/2 tsp. lemon oil (optional)

Topping
3 Tb (1.5 oz) ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (6 oz) sugar
melted butter or vegetable oil, for brushing
1 cup raisins or to taste (optional)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Whisk the yeast into the milk until dissolved, and then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, along with the oil and lemon zest.  If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  If mixing by hand, use a large wooden spoon and stir about 1 minute.  The dough should form a soft, coarse ball.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on med- low speed or by hand for 4 minutes, adding flour or milk as needed to create a smooth, soft, slightly sticky ball of dough.

Increase the speed to medium or stir by hand 2 minutes more, until the dough is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. 

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 1 minute, then form into a ball.  Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to four days.

On Baking Day
Remoive the dough from the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake.  Divide the dough in half and form each piece into a ball.  Cover each ball with a bowl or plastic wrap and let rest 20 minutes.

On a floured work surface, roll each ball of dough into a 12" x 15" rectangle, rolling from the center to the corners and then rolling out to the sides.  If the dough starts to resist or shrink back, let rest for 1 minute, then continue rolling.  The dough should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.

Make the cinnamon sugar by whisking the cinnamon into the sugar.  Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface, leaving a 1/4" border.  If using, sprinkle the raisins and/or chopped nuts over the surface.  Roll the dough up like a rug, rolling from the bottom to the top. to form a tight log.

Cut the log into 1 inch thick slices and place them on a sheet pan or two round cake pans lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, placing the rolls about 1 1/2" apart.  Mist the tops of the rolls with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough swells noticeably and the buns begin to touch one another. 

About 15 mintues before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. 

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then rotate and bake for another 5 to 15 monutes, until the buns are a rich golden brown.  Meanwhile, make the topping of your choice.  Once the buns are glazed, enjoy!



Notes
  • I didn't include the lemon in the dough, so I can't tell you what that would be like.
  • I did include raisins, but not nuts. 
  • I didn't follow his glaze options, but did take the hint of adding orange extract into the powdered sugar glaze I made.  I loved it. 

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