Nothing Like It

Nothing says that it’s the Holiday season to me like baked goods. Perhaps this is because of my childhood experiences. My grandmother loved Christmas. To say how much she loved it is almost an understatement in and of itself. She decorated every inch of the house, the outside was the most lighted on the block, and we had an annual sugar cookie decorating night. Everything I love about this season, cooking, and serving others through food is rooted in her.

My husband grew up having homemade cinnamon rolls around the holidays. I figured what better to combine our traditions than making some homemade cinnamon rolls and having brunch the day we decorated our Christmas tree.

I found this recipe via one of my favorite cooking magazines, Bon Appetit, and one of my favorite food writers, Molly Wizenberg. I’d highly recommend her book, A Homemade Life, to you.

Because Molly’s recipes are always spot on for me, I didn’t alter this recipe hardly at all. I only added a touch of milk to the icing to make it pourable consistency. The icing will get thicker as it sits on the cinnamon rolls and cools. You’ll need to plan these slightly in advance, as they do take some time to prepare. However, I promise your efforts will be highly rewarded.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine and Molly Wizenberg
Makes 18 servings (don’t even think about the weight watchers points on these; it’s a holiday)

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

For dough:
Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 21/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling:
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes. Add glaze.

For glaze:
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer or whisk, beat until smooth. Should have a pourable consistency. If not, add a touch more milk. Pour glaze on rolls, spread over the rolls with a knife or offset spatula to make sure each area is covered. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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