December 29, 2020

Soft Cinnamon Rolls

I didn't get the chance to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning so I decided to make a batch to bid a "not so fond" farewell to 2020.  If any year needed to end on a high note I think it was this year, am I right?  
What I knew for sure was that I wanted a recipe that used the tangzhong (flour roux) method to ensure a super soft and fluffy bread.  My love for tangzhong-based bread dough has been well documented on this blog but ironically enough I never posted a cinnamon roll recipe before.  After a quick search I found this recipe for Soft Cinnamon Rolls on the King Arthur Baking website and it did not disappoint.  In fact, I think it's one of the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had, bar none!    
So that I would have freshly baked rolls in the morning I prepared the dough the night before.  The shaped rolls then had their second proof in the fridge overnight.  First thing the next morning the rolls just needed to come to room temperature before being baked off to a delicious golden brown.  After a slight cool on the counter they were smothered in a delicious icing.  One bite and I was in heaven!   

Soft Cinnamon Rolls (slightly adapted from King Arthur Baking Co.)

Tangzhong Starter
10 tbs (142g) whole milk 
3 tbs + 1 tsp bread flour (28g)
tangzhong starter
4 cups + 2 tbs (496g) bread flour
3 tbs (21g) nonfat dry milk
1 3/4 tsp (11g) salt
1 tbs instant salt
3/4 cup (170g) whole milk, lukewarm
2 large eggs
6 tbs (65g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (142g) brown sugar, packed
4 tsp cinnamon 
1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbs (14g) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbs heavy cream

Tangzhong Starter: Whisk milk and flour together in small bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 20 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 40 to 80 seconds.
Filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until the cinnamon is thoroughly distributed.
Dough: Mix the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients until everything comes together. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes; this will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.
After 20 minutes, knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, elastic, somewhat sticky dough.
Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.
Gently deflate the risen dough and shape each piece into a rough rectangle.  Roll the dough into a rectangle 12" x 18".   Sprinkle the filling onto the dough, leaving about 1/2" border around the edges.  Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a log.  With the seam underneath, cut the log into 12 slices.

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. Space the rolls in the pan.
Cover the pan and let the rolls rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until they're crowding one another and are quite puffy.
While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the bottom third.
Uncover the rolls, and bake them for 22 to 25 minutes, until they feel set. They might be just barely browned; that's OK. It's better to under-bake these rolls than bake them too long. Their interior temperature at the center should be about 188°F.
While the rolls are baking, stir together the icing ingredients, adding enough of the milk to make a thick spreadable icing. The icing should be quite stiff, about the consistency of softened cream cheese.
Remove the rolls from the oven, and turn them out of the pan onto a rack. Spread them with the icing; it'll partially melt into the rolls.
Serve the rolls warm. Store completely cool rolls for a couple of days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 1 month.


  1. Sounds delicious! Did you mean for 2 additions of salt, or should that second be 1 Tbs. sugar?

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