Sweet Dough Disguised as Cinnamon Rolls

What if there was a yeasted sweet dough that could be made ahead, frozen, thawed, filled, shaped into sweet or savory baked goods, and then freshly baked off.  All, without waking up at 4 am to complete when hosting friends or family this holiday season.  Guess what there is and I have the recipe for you.  You will never have to crack open a can of store bought sweet dough again.

Beyond the convenience that this recipe will offer you.  You’ll know what ingredients goes into your food.  Unlike the commercially made canned dough you can buy in the grocery store.

So, how can a yeasted sweet dough be all that and more?

The answer lies with the proportion of the ingredients in the recipe.  Just a reminder; Baking is a science and when measuring for a baking recipes, bakers always weight the ingredients, every time.  This includes any liquids such as water or milk.

With raising nine kids my mom always made our homemade treats.  Whether it was cakes, cookies, pies, or a yeasted sweet dough that took on the form of soft rolls of all shapes, Stollen, Bohemian Braid, Swedish Tea Ring, or Cinnamon Rolls.  This is where The Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook taught me a good lesson.  Have a recipe for a basic dough that could take on many different forms, depending on how you finished it.

So when making cinnamon rolls what is the best part?  Well, for me its the centers!  And when I was about 10 years old I took that love of cinnamon roll centers to a whole new level.  My mom had just pulled the cinnamon rolls from the oven.  She slathered the top of the hot and freshly baked cinnamon rolls with margarine (that was the good stuff back then) and then she walked out of the kitchen to let them cool.  The urge to have one over took me.  So I gingerly plucked one of the centers out of the pan and devoured it…it was good, but I still wasn’t satisfied.  So I plucked another center out, relishing the warm, sweet, soft, and spicy cinnamon flavor.  Well you know the centers of a cinnamon roll aren’t very big…so I pluck another one from the pan and ate it.  Before I knew it I had eaten all 12 cinnamon rolls centers.  As I was finishing the last one, my mom came back into the kitchen.  She looked at me and then the pan of cinnamon rolls and then back at me.  Me, with cheeks bulging and a mouthful of warm cinnamon roll centers.  She asked while pointing to the pan of heartless cinnamon rolls, “Did you do that?” and the answer from me was a timid “yes.”  Instead of being scolded she simply said, “Don’t do that again” and that was it.  This memory still stands out for me for two reasons; one, I indulged my desire and two, I didn’t get in trouble for it.

I’ll be giving you the recipe and direction for the Basic Sweet Dough and Cinnamon Rolls.  Know it’s just a starting point to many other baked goods like Swedish Tea Cake, Monkey Bread, Fruit Braid, and Pigs in a Blanket. What you come up with is really up to your own imagination.

Hints for No Fuss Cinnamon Rolls for Your Holiday Morning:

Once the dough is made and wrapped in plastic I freeze it.   Then move it in the refrigerator to thaw the night before I want to shape it. The next day I roll the dough, fill, shape, and pan the cinnamon rolls, letting the cinnamon rolls sit out at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 1 hour (gets the fermentation going again) then the pan of cinnamon rolls goes back into the refrigerator overnight covered with plastic. The next morning I wake up, take out the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator (letting them sit at room temp while the oven preheats), preheat the oven 375°F. for 30 minutes, during which I make coffee for myself and my guest and get ready for the day.  After 30 minutes of pre-heating the oven to 375°F. the cinnamon rolls are baked to a light golden brown and then glazed.  Everyone in the house will awake to the aroma of fresh, warm, sweet cinnamon rolls and coffee.  Dress up the cinnamon rolls with a sprinkle of toasted chopped nuts for that extra flair!

This recipe for this sweet dough uses techniques that are found in making French Baguettes with it’s poolish step.  Then incorporates a creaming techniques that is found in most American cookie or cake recipes.  Most important is the chilling of the dough overnight before shaping because of it high fat content.  The texture of the dough when baked is more cake like than bread like, a cross between a brioche and challah.

Equipment:

  • Stand Mixer with Work Bowl and Paddle Attachment
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Plastic Dough Scrap
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Metal Bench Knife
  • Black Marker
  • French Tapered Rolling Pin
  • Pastry Brush for Flour
  • Pastry Brush for Melted Butte
  • Parchment Paper
  • 1/2 Sheet Baking Pan

Sweet Dough

  • Measure      Grams      Ingredients
  • Poolish
  • 1 cup           226 g.      Milk (room temp)
  • 2 tsp.           004 g.      Instant Yeast
  • 2 ¼ cups      335 g.      All Purpose Flour (unbleached, unbromated)

Final Dough

  • 1 cup           226 g.       Butter (unsalted, room temp.)
  • ½ cup          113 g.       Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ tsp.          ¾ tsp.       Sea Salt (finely ground)
  • 3 each          3 each      Eggs (large, room temp)
  • 2 ¼ cups      335 g.       All Purpose Flour (unbleached, unbromated)

Mixing the dough:

  1. In the mixing bowl combine milk and instant yeast and stir to combine.  Add the bread flour and mix with a fork until a rough dough forms.  Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl on to the work surface (no flour is used for kneading) and knead for 3 minutes or until the dough is smooth.  Place back into the mixing bowl that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray and cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. After 1 hour remove the poolish from the mixing bowl and place on on the work surface, cover with plastic .
  3. Place the mixing bowl on the machine fitted with the paddle attachment.  On low speed cream the butter, sugar, salt until combined.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until creamy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time.  Scrape down the bowl as necessary.  The mixture will become very loose and break.  This is normal.
  5. Turn the mixer to low speed, break up poolish into small pieces with your hand and add to the creamed mixture.   Once all the poolish is added, increase to medium speed and beat until the mixture becomes light and creamy.
  6. On low speed, add the remaining flour.  Turn the mixer up to speed 3 and beat for 3 minutes.   Scraping down the bowl if necessary.
  7. Remove the paddle attachment from the bowl, scraping off any dough.
  8. Remove from bowl from the machine and scrape the dough out of the bowl on to an work surface (No flour on the work surface).  Knead for a minute or two by hand.
  9. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate  over night before rolling.  Dough can be frozen at this point too.  Frozen dough must be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before starting the rolling and filling steps.

Forming Cinnamon Rolls:

  1. Remove the sweet dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour the top of the dough.
  2. Using a rolling pin, lightly tap the sweet dough into a rectangle that is 8″ x 10″ with the long side facing you.  Check to see the dough is not sticking to the surface (flour lightly if necessary)
  3. With the rolling pin, roll the dough into a 14″ x 18″ rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Brush any excess flour from the surface of the dough.  Brush melted butter over the surface of the dough, except for the top ½-inch of dough.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar (recipe below) mixture evenly over the butter.
  6. Starting the long edge closes to you, begin rolling the dough, from one side to the other.  Keeping the rolling as snug as possible.  Continue rolling the dough up and pinch the seam together.
  7. Roll the seam to the bottom and cut the roll in half.  Line the two-pieces up and cut in half again.  Then cut each quarter piece into 3 even pieces.  The pieces will be approximately 1 ½-inch wide.
  8. Place the rolls on a parchment lined sheet pan.  With the palm of your hand press the rolls down until they are ¾-inch thick.
  9. Cover the rolls with plastic and let proof for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until 1 1/2 times their original size.
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. for 20 minutes before baking cinnamon rolls.

Baking, and Finishing:

  1. Uncover the cinnamon rolls and place in a pre-heated oven.
  2. Bake at 375°F. for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cinnamon rolls are a light golden brown.  Check the bottom of the rolls to see if they have taken on color.
  3. Remove the baking pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack and spread the tops with the icing.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • ½ cup Dark Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Set-aside until needed to fill the rolls.

Cinnamon Roll Glaze

  • 1 cup Powder Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

Mixing:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the powder sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.  Stir to combine.  Adding more heavy cream until desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls.

Swedish Tea Ring:

  1. Roll up as for Cinnamon Rolls.  Divide the rolled dough in half.  Then place one half sealed edge-down on a parchment lined sheet tray.
  2. Using a metal bench knife mark the top of the dough 7 times to get 8 even sections.  Once marked cut the dough into sections leaving about 1/4″ of dough attached on the inner circle.
  3. Turn each section on its side in one direction over lapping the ends of the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Bake at 375°F. for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the Swedish Tea Ring is a light golden brown.
  5. Follow the recipe for glazing above or dust with powder sugar.
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