Two words: cinnamon roll.
OK, that was almost too easy. Yet while you're on the treadmill, balancing your checkbook, changing lanes or reading a bedtime story, you will be thinking of having a cinnamon roll.
Such is the power of suggestion, especially when the suggested object is gooey and spicy and soft and sweet all at once.
Once you get one on a plate, you'll look for that subtle seam where the swirl begins and start pulling the roll apart in soft, cinnamony arcs, edging toward the core of the coil, which you know is the cinnamoniest and gooiest bite, even as it's also the last.
Some people might swear that there are no truly awful cinnamon rolls, but there are substandard ones. You know the culprits: The bread is dry or dense, the filling is stingy, or the glaze is grainy.
One way to make sure you're enjoying the freshest, best rolls possible is to make them yourself. Cinnamon rolls aren't difficult, although their feather-light nature starts with a dough that admittedly is on the sticky side.
Because the rolls are a yeast dough, and warm rolls are best, timing can be an issue because the process, from start to finish, takes about four hours.
Here's a neat solution: Mix the dough the night before, let it rise, then shape the rolls in a pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator, but not longer than 12 hours.
The next morning, take the rolls out of the fridge an hour before you plan to serve them. Replace the plastic wrap with a clean towel and let them sit for a half-hour in a warm spot while the oven preheats, then bake them.
Friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will fall at your feet, and it took only two words: cinnamon roll.
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups warm water
2¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
½ cup non-fat dry milk powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup canola oil
4½ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus extra for dusting
1½ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft, but not melted
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk to make a spreadable consistency
To make rolls: In large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, water, yeast, dry milk, sugar and oil. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or, if mixing by hand, a wooden spoon, add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add salt.
Add 1 more cup flour, then begin kneading with dough attachment. If by hand, scrape dough onto lightly floured counter and, using a bench scraper, reach under dough, lift it and fold it over itself.
For either method, repeat this motion while gradually adding remaining ½ cup flour until it's fully incorporated. Resist adding more flour. The dough will be very soft but easier to handle once it has risen.
Place dough into a clean bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.
Turn dough out onto a surface dusted generously with flour. Roll into rectangle 12 inches wide and 18 inches long. Spread softened butter evenly over dough, leaving ½ -inch border at top edge. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over butter. Working from widest side, gently roll dough into jellyroll shape as snugly as possible, pinching border to seal roll.
Spray 9- by 13-inch pan, preferably non-stick, with cooking spray. Mark dough into 12 even pieces, each 1½ inches wide. Using a 12-inch length of dental floss, work floss under dough, then criss-cross ends and pull, making a clean cut through dough. Place each roll on its side in pan. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
(For warm rolls in the morning, tightly cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly, although no longer than 12 hours. The next morning, take rolls out of fridge an hour before you plan to serve them. Replace plastic wrap with clean towel and let pan sit for a half-hour in a warm spot while oven preheats, then bake.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden. Drizzle with glaze and serve warm.
To make glaze: Stir together powdered sugar and vanilla, adding milk 1 teaspoon at a time until glaze spreads easily.
Makes 12 large rolls.
Adapted from Baking With the St. Paul Bread Club by Kim Ode
Nutrition information per serving with glaze: 363 calories, 10 g. fat, 327 mg. sodium, 61 g. carbohydrates, 62 mg. calcium, 7 g. protein, 42 mg. cholesterol, 2 g. dietary fiber.