In the fall of 2011, Kansas cookbook author Judith Fertig took on an ambitious assignment: Write a book of cinnamon roll recipes in 60 days.
Fertig has written more than 20 cookbooks on everything from bread to barbecue. Still, this was no easy task.
The expert baker holed up in her kitchen with colossal amounts of flour, butter, and sugar. She gathered four kinds of cinnamon and started rolling it into swirls of every shape and size.
At the end of those two months, Fertig had another cookbook: I Love Cinnamon Rolls! (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012).
The book has everything from traditional sticky buns to gluten-free rolls. The recipes are customizable, so you easily change the dough, filling, pan sauce or topping.
"I'm a mix-and-match person," Fertig says.
She says she wanted the recipes to be flexible because everyone has his or her own version of the perfect cinnamon roll. In the Midwest, she says, we like our cinnamon rolls soft and feathery, with lots of gooey frosting on top. On the East Coast, people prefer sticky buns. In Colorado, it's not a cinnamon roll unless it's as big as a plate, and in the Northwest, vegan rolls are all the rage.
This easy dough, which bakes up soft and feathery, can be kneaded with a mixer or by hand. "You know you're done when you can stick your knuckle in it and it bounces back, like a pillow," Fertig says.
Traditional cinnamon roll dough
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
31⁄3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
2½ teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast
In a 4-cup measuring cup, combine milk, butter, sugar and salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until warm (Careful: Exceed 130 degrees and you'll kill the yeast). Whisk in the eggs.
Place flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add liquid ingredients. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl from time to time, until dough forms a soft mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove paddle attachment and switch to dough hook. With the mixer on low, knead dough with the dough hook. Sprinkle dough with a tablespoon of flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to sides of the bowl. When dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you've kneaded it enough (4 to 6 minutes). Place dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place (about 85 degrees) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it has almost doubled.
Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16 to 20 medium or 48 minirolls Proceed with a cinnamon roll recipe.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 12): 209 calories, 6 g. fat, 49 mg. cholesterol, 33 g. carbohydrates, 6 g. protein, 200 mg. sodium, 1 g. dietary fiber.
Classic cinnamon rolls
1 recipe traditional cinnamon roll dough (see above)
Flour for dusting
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided and softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2½ tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
½ tablespoon maple syrup
For the pan sauce, spread 4 tablespoons butter into bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out to a 16-by-20-inch rectangle.
For the filling, combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread dough with 4 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Starting with the shorter side, roll up dough to form a tight 16-inch cylinder. Cut cylinder into 12 rolls. Place in the prepared pan, spiral side up. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
For the glaze, whisk together ingredients in a medium bowl. Drizzle over warm rolls. Makes 12 large rolls.
Nutrition information per serving: 439 calories, 14 g. fat, 72 mg. cholesterol, 73 g. carbohydrates, 6 g. protein, 221 mg. sodium, 2 g. dietary fiber.