Working weeks look much more promising when I start them with a slice of something sweet. In fact, I’m dreading the thought of tomorrow morning, as I baked no cake this weekend!
My colleagues always wonder where I find the time to cook. Every time they ask, I answer that, if you don’t make time yourself for the things you love, no one will make it for you. When you’ll realise that you have slowly, inexplicably lost something precious, it’ll be too late to take it back.
Today’s recipe is both a great start to the past week, and the final fulfilment of a challenge I had avoided for more than one year after a first series of indisputable failures. Apparently, brewer’s yeast was no friend of mine until one week ago, as I had tried to use it many times before, and never seemed to figure out quite how it worked. Instead of soft and fluffy doughs, I got flat and despairingly hard focaccias, shapeless rolls, unfulfilling breads…until I decided not to use dried yeast ever again, since even following recipes to the tiniest detail seemed not to be enough to guarantee success.
Then I discovered cinnamon rolls. I had never seen one back in Italy, but here in the UK, they’re just everywhere. A temptation that’s hard to resist, screaming “Eat me, please!” from every café counter…but also radiating Butter, so much Butter that I never really dared to treat myself to one. It was quite surprising to find that the recipe doesn’t involve as much Evil Butter as I feared, and it was with less guilt feelings that I finally resolved to try them at home. But Problem Number Two lied in ambush: I had to choose between resuming my battle with brewer’s yeast and risking another defeat, or giving up on the Cinnamon Challenge. You’ll see for yourself what I went for!
Ingredients for the dough (about 10-12 rolls)
- 125ml skimmed milk;
- 25g butter or spread;
- 260g flour;
- 50g plain sugar;
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon;
- 1 egg;
- 1 sachet dried yeast;
- 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Ingredients for the filling
- 90g brown sugar;
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon;
- 30 g butter, softened.
Start preparing the dough
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, together with the milk, taking care of not bringing to the boil.
- Pour the mixture in a bowl; add all the sugar, cinnamon, egg, yeast and salt, and 70g flour.
- Knead thoroughly for about 3-5 minutes, then add the remaining 190g, and continue kneading until you have used up all the flour. Feel free to add more of it if the batter is too sticky.
- Knead for 10 more minutes on a clean surface (on which you will have previously spread a little flour), until the dough is smooth and elastic. Finally, put it in a bowl greased with a little oil, cover it with cling film and a cloth, and leave aside to raise for about 2 hours, or until it becomes twice its size.
Prepare the filling
- Mix brown sugar with cinnamon.
- Soften the butter until it is creamy enough to be spreadable, but not completely melted.
Two hours later…get back to the dough
- Spread it evenly on the floured kitchen top, in a rectangular shape, about 14x19cm big.
- Spread the softened butter on the surface, leaving a 1cm border on each side
- Pour the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly on the “buttery” area.
- Roll up the dough, starting from its long side, and pressing gently with your hands to keep it tight.
- Keeping the sealed side down, cut the roll in 10-12 slices of the same size, about 1.5-2cm thick. Put them in an oven dish, greased with butter or lined with baking paper.
- Once again, cover the oven dish with cling film and a cloth, and leave aside for about 45 minutes, until the rolls have become twice their size.
Last but not least…
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the rolls from the oven dish as soon as they’re ready, and put them on a cooling rack, leaving them aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
You can store your Cinnamon Rolls for about three days in an airtight container. To be honest, I would have tasted one immediately, hadn’t it been Saturday evening and almost dinner time: I can only imagine how good they are while still warm! They were excellent the morning after, though, and still delicious on Monday and Tuesday, when I brought them to work for breakfast. In your face, brewer’s yeast! I’m so excited about this result, that I’m making homemade pizza tonight…so please, don’t let me down, will you?