Ya’ll. This weekend I conquered a baking mountain. I wouldn’t call it Everest, but it’s definitely a high one, maybe in the Rocky’s? I don’t know, I don’t really hike…or camp. This mountain was made of yeast (sorry for that mental image), and I promised myself 2017 would be the year I baked with it. I’ve had my eye on cinnamon rolls for awhile but could never bring myself to bite the bullet. But you guys, baking with yeast is easy. The yeast does all the hard work! I promise you, you can bake with yeast. We’ll hold hands and do it together.
Before you go and tell me you can buy cinnamon rolls at your local diner, bougie coffee shop or gourmet bakery let me just tell you this – you have never had cinnamon rolls until you make your own. My husband literally ate half the pan. I couldn’t even get a final shot before he dug in. They’re moist like you’ve never had, with as much or as little frosting as you prefer and the salted caramel takes it to a level I previously didn’t know cinnamon rolls could reach.
Now, as we hand hold our way through making them I have a few tips:
1. Yeast best rises in a warm, moist place. This is a bit problematic in the North East, as it typically feels like a frozen tundra for the foreseeable future. Unless you have several hours to let your dough rise (I am incapable of waiting that long), I utilized the ‘Warming’ feature of my oven and then turned it off and let it cool slightly before sticking my dough in there to let it rise. Just don’t put it somewhere too hot, the dough will start to bake.
2. This dough is stiiccckkyyyyy, flour the bejeezus out of whatever surface you plan to roll the dough out on.
3. Do not fret if you start to put the rolls in a pan and it looks like you will have way too much room. All that space will be utilized, trust.
4. Feel free to add chocolate chips or chocolate. I will not judge you.
Whiskey Salted Caramel
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temp
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whiskey of choice
For the Dough:
3/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
For the Filling:
4 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Whiskey Salted Caramel
1. Place the sugar, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy-bottomed small or medium saucepan. Stir to combine
2. Heat over high heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until it turns a medium golden amber color, 8-10 minutes. The sugar mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the correct color is reached and bubbles start to subside.
3. Slowly and carefully whisk in the cream
4. The mixture will foam up and sputter, so stand clear and keep stirring
5. Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Add the salt, vanilla and whiskey and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe container and let it cool until it thickens.
For the Dough
1. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the warm water and yeast. Stir to combine and then refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, flour, and sugar. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter until it’s in coarse lumps.
3. Pour the egg and yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (about 2 minutes).
4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and let rise until doubled.
For the making, filling and assembling of the rolls
1. Take the risen dough and roll it out on a floured surface to a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter over the dough and sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Spoon and spread the thickened caramel sauce over the dough.
2. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the rectangle lengthwise into a long log. Using a serrated knife or a piece of dental floss, cut the roll into 2 inch-wide slices.
3. Place the slices carefully into a greased 9-inch round cake pan or a square baking dish. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with granulated sugar (optional) and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 24 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool. Mix together confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese and vanilla (adding milk if needed to get the consistency you want) and spread it over the rolls.