Birthday Cinnamon Rolls

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Cinnamon rolls have got to be my all-time favorite baked good. Even better than chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and if you know me, you know I love my chocolate cake. I would eat cinnamon rolls every day if I could, but after discovering Cinnabon’s had something like 800 plus calories a roll, I decided to cut back. I cut back so much, in fact, that I stopped eating them.

It’s not like I can’t find them in town, but the ones available from our local bakery just don’t do it for me. They’re flatter, the icing is MUCH heavier, and it’s like royal icing. WHAT??? That’s just not right!

Jay and I were watching Good Eats one night, and lo and behold Alton cranked out some cinnamon rolls that looked pretty fab. On going to commercial break, we made a very important discovery: my birthday is the same day as national sweetroll day!

Coincidence? Well, you can say yes or no, but it just seemed right that my birthday would be the same day as cinnamon roll day. So, when my birthday finally rolled around, Jay made me the best birthday cake ever: a whole pan of fresh, from-scratch cinnamon rolls.

These are the kinds of cinnamon rolls that all other cinnamon rolls hope they can be when they grow up. The icing was perfect, and the flavor of the rolls was absolutely rockin. Even the day after the rolls were made, they were still soft and moist and delicious. It will probably be another year before I allow one of these sweet delicacies to cross my lips, but with these kinds of rolls, it’s well, well worth the wait.

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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
(original recipe Alton Brown)

Ingredients:
Dough:
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Vegetable oil

Filling:
8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3/4 ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Icing:
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

Method:
For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.
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