These cinnamon rolls are so good. They are definitely worth the time to put them together, considering that you can do most of the work the night before, and in the morning, you can just set them out for a half hour or so before you preheat the oven. I also really like the tang of the cream cheese frosting. It adds a richness that tempers the sweet to perfection, and the pecans and raisins are options that our household enjoys whenever I make them.
Of course I frequently start my breads with yeast that has been proofed with the water from a boiled potato, and not wanting to waste the potato that I boiled, I mash it and add it to the recipe. It seems to add extra tenderness to the rolls.
To simplify things, peel and cube a medium russet potato and boil, in enough water to cover, until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain 1/4 cup of the boiled potato water into a 1 cup measuring cup and let it cool to 110 degrees (I can keep my finger in it). Discard any extra water. Once cooled enough, add three teaspoons instant yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar to potato water and set it aside until it gets nice and foamy. In the same pot you boiled the potato, mash it up with a fork, adding in 1/2 cup room temperature butter and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mash and mix this together until it is smooth. Heat 1 cup of milk for 1 minute in the microwave on high, and add it to the mashed potato mixture, along with 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla. Beat 2 eggs with a fork (in the cup you warmed the milk–don’t want too many dishes) and add it to the pot. By now your yeast should be nice and foamy, so pour it into the pot, too.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of unbleached bread flour, 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten (if you have it) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to use it. Otherwise, use your big wooden spoon. Pour your liquid potato mixture over the flour mixture and combine to make a soft dough. Change to a dough hook and stir in remaining 2 cups unbleached flour. Let dough hook work at a medium low speed for 6 –8 minutes, or, if you are doing it by hand, once combined turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes. Try not to add in any additional flour or your bread may become tough. This will be a soft dough. Place dough into an oiled bowl, turning to coat dough with oil, cover with plastic or a dish towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.
At this time I would like to explain a couple of things. Instant yeast does not have to be combined with a liquid to proof. It can be combined with the dry ingredients and then have warm liquids added to do its job, as in a bread machine. It does, however improve its efforts when it is combined with a liquid and a bit of sugar to give it a kick start. There are a couple of things that yeast doesn’t like. Milk enzymes and salt. That is why we heat the milk first; to decrease the enzyme action. And, we keep the salt away until the yeast has activated. Oh, and have I mentioned dollar store shower caps? For a buck you can get 15 clear plastic elasticized (disposable) shower caps to cover your mixing bowls and other containers for short term, like resting or rising bread. (-: Gently place your dough onto a lightly oiled surface and flatten and shape into an approximately 15” X 24” rectangle. If it doesn’t cooperate, let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes while you melt 1/2 cup of butter and mix in 1 cup, packed, brown sugar, 5 tablespoons of a good ground cinnamon, and a teaspoon of ground cardamom for the filling. Gently finish shaping the dough.
Now, sprinkle and spread the brown sugar mixture, as evenly as you can, over the dough, using your fingers, the spatula, or the back of a spoon. If you want to add in nuts and raisins, now is the time. I like to scatter about 3/4 cup of each over the dough, then top with about a tablespoon of granulated sugar before I roll up the dough, forming a nice fat log. Tug or pull to keep things kind of even. Don’t worry about how it looks right now. Once it’s baked, no one will notice!
Okay, now you can cut it into 12 pieces, using a serrated knife, or…….dental floss!!! The floss makes a nice, clean cut. Slide an 18” piece under the log to the very center. Look at the picture of the log closely. Center top, you can see the floss, and center bottom, dangling off the table from under the roll. Cross these ends over each other on the top, and pull in opposite directions and you can get a clean cut. Repeat, and you get the job done fairly easily, once you get the hang of it. (-:
Cut into 2 equal pieces, then divide those pieces in half, and each half then into thirds and you will get 12 pieces. Butter a 9” X 13” baking pan and place the rolls in the pan, gently pressing them to level them. Lightly spray with non stick spray and cover with plastic wrap. At this point, you can place in the refrigerator to rise slowly overnight, or you can let rise for 45 minutes to an hour and bake.
In the morning, set out for a half hour to an hour to come to room temperature and raise a bit, then lightly spritz with water (it gives the bread an extra lift to rise)and bake at 365 degrees for 30 –35 minutes, to an internal temperature of 190-205 degrees on an instant read thermometer. My convection oven seems to bake bread at about the same rate as my oven in the bus, or even takes a bit longer. If it seems to be taking too long, use the combo-bake at 5 minute segments to reach the internal temperature. Once done, set on a cooling rack, or your stove top, and mix your frosting up while you wait for them to cool (hah!) a bit, then slather frosting generously over and serve while warm. If you have any left, wrap in foil to reheat in the convection for 4 or 5 minutes, or cover with a paper towel and microwave on high, on a paper plate, one at a time, for 45-60 seconds.
As you can see, I got too impatient, and almost missed the photo op! Nick was already hanging over me, waiting eagerly for a fresh, hot roll.
Here are a couple of tools I use often. (-:
Shower caps, spray bottle, and pastry mat. I tried to find a food-safe plastic spray bottle, but wasn’t sure, so I use fresh water each time I use it, never leaving water to sit in it. The plastic shower caps don’t touch the food and the pastry mat makes for really easy clean up! I’m all for that! I keep forgetting to get a picture of the instant read thermometer……sorry! )-:
I’m having a little problem with line spacing on the recipes, so please bear with me. I’ll get the hang of this sooner or later!
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
1 medium russet potato, peeled, cubed, and boiled until soft, reserve ¼ C cooking water 1 C milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
¼ C reserved warm potato water (110 degrees F.)
1 T pure vanilla
½ C butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
½ tsp salt
½ C plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
5 C unbleached bread flour
1 T vital wheat gluten
3 tsp instant yeast
½ C butter, melted
1 C firmly-packed brown sugar 5 T ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom ¾ – 1 C chopped nuts (optional) ¾ – 1 C raisins (optional) 1 T granulated sugar
BUTTER FROSTING- Cream together:
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ C butter, melted and cooled
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla