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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BBA Challenge #8 - Cinnamon Rolls

A couple of months ago, I spent some time testing a few different cinnamon roll formulas as I began down my yeast bread baking journey. Because seriously, what's the point in ever baking yeast bread if you're not going to make cinnamon rolls? I can't think of one.

I first made these Black Forest Buns because, oddly enough, I had some extra chocolate cake sitting around that I needed to use in some way. They were yum.

I also tried a recipe/formula by Art Smith from his book Back to the Family. It was kind of a fussy recipe and I realized too late in the process that the formula omitted salt. I noticed it but it was too late to add some in. They fermented and proofed fine, but tasted... blech.

You can see pictures of my attempts at both of the above recipes here.

I also tried the formula from my Williams Sonoma book The Essentials of Baking. This formula was easier and tasted better. But it made a LOT of cinnamon rolls. More than my little family of four need ever eat.

So, to say that I was excited about getting to the cinnamon roll formula in the Bread Baker's Apprentice is an understatement of epic proportions. Let me put it to you this way: I have had a tab on the page marking this recipe since the day I got the book and first looked through it.

I actually have a reason for this obsession with the cinnamon roll. My family loves the Pillsbury Orange Cinnamon Rolls from a can. I KNOW... It's. SO. Shameful. But I'll admit that they are good and so easy. But I have wanted to find a homemade solution to this canned madness in my house. And this formula by Peter Reinhart may be the answer.

I looked over the ingredient list and thought, "Lemon extract? Why would I use lemon when orange is so much better?" And since I always have orange extract on hand for a few of my recipes, I used it instead.

As I have mentioned before, I do enjoy working with soft dough. I have much more success with elasticity and gluten development in these softer enriched doughs than I do with some stiffer doughs.

And just LOOK at that windowpane!

That's probably about as good of a window "pain" test that you will ever see from me again.

So the dough did its dough thing of fermenting for a while. I rolled it out, spread on some cinnamon sugar and then rolled it up to slice.

Now, every book that I have encountered has you cut the cinnamon rolls with a knife, so I have been trying to do that. But I remember back when my mom used to make them, she used fishing line since it was always around the house. We do not have any, but I think I'm about to buy me some because this knife business is for the birds in my oh so humble opinion.

With the fishing line, you hold a length of it on either end. Slide it up under the log to the length that you want to cut, then cross the ends over the top and pull. Trust me, it makes a beautifully round cinnamon roll. I'll post a tutorial some time to show you.

I also experimented a little bit. I cut half of the log into rolls and put them in the fridge to bake the next morning (Friday). I was having such a hard time cutting the tender dough that I left the other half as a log and put it in the fridge to then slice and bake on Saturday.

I tell you what, the refrigerated dough was so much easier to slice. The only problem I found was that the holes of the cross section of the dough were a little more visible in the dough that was refrigerated first. But hey, that gets covered up with this...

Overall Impressions:

This was a very good formula; and I feel like I can say that with a knowledge base of having tried several. I love the substituted orange extract and also used orange extract in the glaze.

I would like to make them smaller and may try to do so next time because...

Would I make this recipe again? Oh heavens... YES!!!

To read about the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, go here.


susies1955 said...

What perfect rolls. SO very tasty looking. I also loved this recipe.
Great job,

Pete Eatemall said...

I too used orange. I also filled with dried cherries and pecans. Havent tried yet...taking to friends in the morning! The pics are beautiful ...making me hungry! Happy baking!

Anonymous said...

I am glad someone tried this recipe with orange extract. I thought about it, but I do love lemon so I went with that. But I have had those Pillsbury Orange Cinnamon Rolls before and they are soooo good. Maybe next time! I am also thinking of going the Caramel Pecan Sticky Bun route.

Beckypdj said...

Cinnamon rolls look very good! I use my kitchen scissors when cutting/slicing cinnamon rolls, makes it much easier. Hope that helps

Mags said...

Good job Donna. Your cinnamon rolls are lovely!

Kay said...

WOW! I looove me a good cinnamon roll. But I am afraid to say the tube/can is about the only thing that happens at my house. I know.. the shame of it! :-D

Cindy said...

Beautiful buns. I think it is great that we could all follow up our dissapointment with small ciabatta holes with ecstasy over cinnamon buns.
Next time use dental floss to cut them. Works like a charm. Just don't use mint flavoured.

Stephanie said...

I believe I just drooled on the keyboard! Those lok so absolutely delicious!

Lolly said...

Donna, those look so good! A friend of mine who had a business out of her home baking bread and cinnamon rolls used dental floss to cut hers with. She even used cinnamon flavor. That is what I use and it works great. I used non-flavored. Mint just doesn't sound like it would be too good.

Rebeca said...

They look lovely! And I love the name of your blog!

Almost Vegetarian said...

I never really liked cinnamon rolls until one of the Chef's from my school made a batch. I ate a small piece fresh out of the oven and, suddenly, I was a convert.

And, look, now I have a recipe! Life is good to me, indeed.