My Version of Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls
2 hours 50 minutestotal time
11g wheat gluten
243g all purpose flour
85g milk whole preferred
114g milk cold whole preferred
3g table salt
19g granulated sugar
1 packet (2.25 tsp) instant yeast
42g unsalted butter softened
10g butter melted
90g light brown sugar packed
8g to 10g cinnamon + mixed spice
pinch of table salt
21g butter melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of table salt
120g minimum confectioners' sugar sifted
14g minimum milk heavy cream or buttermilk enough to thin to desired consistency
1/2 tsp vanilla
(optional) dash of mixed spice
To make the bread flour:
Add the total amount of flour and wheat gluten to a bowl, mix thoroughly.
To make the tangzhong:
Combine 85g milk and 18g flour in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This should take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your burner.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, or the bucket of a bread machine (whatever you plan to knead the dough in).
To make the dough:
In the same bowl, add 114g milk. Weigh your 225g of flour; or convert and measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Then add the flour, 3g salt, 1 packet of yeast, 42g of butter, and 19g of sugar in the order listed.
Mix — by hand, on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, pulse, or in a bread machine set to the dough cycle — to bring the dough together. Next, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and tacky. This will take up to 15 minutes by hand, 10 to 12 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer, 5 minutes of pulsing, or the length of the dough cycle in a bread machine.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover.
Let the dough rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen).
To make the filling: While the dough is rising, put the 10g melted butter into a medium bowl and add 90g brown sugar, 10g flour, 8g spices, pinch of salt, and 5g of vanilla, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. Set aside.
Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
To assemble the cinnamon rolls:
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and press it into a 8” x 11” rectangle that’s about 1/2” thick. For evenly shaped cinnamon rolls, try to pat the dough into an actual rectangle (with corners), rather than an oval.
Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2” strip along one long side. add spices and sugar as needed to cover gaps.
Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.
Score the dough lightly into eight equal 1 1/4- 1 1/2” pieces; this will make medium-sized cinnamon rolls, about 9 in an 8 x 8 pan. Cut the dough at the score marks. Kitchen twine will give you the cleanest cut, as well as a greased knife. If needed, chill the dough before cutting. Repeat until you've cut all of the cinnamon rolls.
Place the cinnamon rolls into the 8 x 8 pan for squished rolls, or a prepared baking sheet, spacing them so there’s at least 2” between each one and they’re 2” away from the edges of the pan. To prevent them from unraveling while they rise and bake, tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the cinnamon rolls so that they’re held in place.
Cover the cinnamon rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The cinnamon rolls should be puffy and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when gently pressed.
About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Before placing in oven, mix 40g of cream, 10g milk, spices and vanilla, mix, and pour over the rolls. Only the tops need to be covered. For stickier rolls, submerge in more cream.
Bake the cinnamon rolls for 17 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F. Bake for the lesser amount of time for extra-soft cinnamon rolls, and the longer amount of time for cinnamon rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.
Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack. Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.
To make the icing: Combine the remaining 21g melted butter, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, 120g minimum of powdered sugar, and 14g minimum of milk in a medium bowl, mixing with a spatula until smooth. Milk makes a lovely frosting; using cream in place of milk creates an extra layer of richness, while substituting buttermilk adds subtle tang, a nice counterpoint to the icing's overall sweetness. Add more sugar or milk a 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
Ice the cinnamon rolls and serve immediately, or serve icing as a dip. If you’re planning to serve the cinnamon rolls later, wait to ice them until just before serving. Store icing at room temperature, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.
, Store completely cooled cinnamon rolls, un-iced and well wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature; or freeze for up to 1 month.
2 hours 50 minutestotal time