I have been meaning to write this post for a while. I have even had requests.
Well…. truth be told, the requests were for the recipe and not necessarily a blog post to wade through. How and ever, a blog post it is. And it’s all about cinnamon.
Cinnamon, surprisingly, seems to be a divisive spice amongst my circle. I would never have thought it, but friends of mine are convinced that the surest way to ruin a perfectly good crumble or tart is to put cinnamon in to it. Others like me love the smell of all things cinnamon. They lash it in to all sorts of recipes and would even make Christmas decorations from cinnamon sticks. I personally land in the latter of the two camps. I put it on porridge, and in to chilli dishes, and sprinkle it in to crumble mixes without hesitation. But where I really love it, is in a good cinnamon roll.
When I was small, I had a friend who was half-Swedish. We use to go to her house sometimes on baking day. (Can you believe it? Her mother had a baking day. I need to start this in our house. Maybe several a week.) She made all sorts but the thing that stood out where the cinnamon rolls. Deliciously chewy and gooey and sugary cinnamon rolls. I never did get the recipe. Whenever I saw them on sale somewhere I would pick up a few to try but they never tasted the same. Too chemically. Or too much like bread and not enough like a sweet. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I even tried making up recipes myself. Disaster. Even Mr. Fairweather was unimpressed and he eats everything.
Eventually though I stumbled across this recipe that I am going to share with you. I have no idea where I found it. I just know that it is soooo good. How good I hear you ask. You are just going to have to try it out yourself and see. The recipe may seem long but actually the work progresses in phases and most time is spent letting the dough rise and do its thing. Your involvement, surprisingly miniscule given the return.
3 tsps. dried yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4-5 cups sifted flour
The water should be what’s referred to as “blood temperature” meaning that when you put your finger in it, its not cold or hot. Into this add the yeast mixing it all up. Leave it sit for 10 minutes until it just starts to froth.
In a small pot, scald the milk. Take off the heat and add butter and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved and butter melted. If you need to return to heat to do it, that’s fine but don’t boil it. The taste will be awful.
Once that’s done allow the mix to cool till tepid and pour in to large mixing bowl. Add the dissolved yeast and the beaten egg. Stir well. Then begin adding the flour in one cup at a time, making sure to beat well after each one.
Tip the sticky dough out on to a well floured surface and knead well until elastic and smooth. (Watch out for helpful toddlers who insist on tasting everything – this sweet dough will prove irresistible.) Once smooth, put in to a well oiled bowl and cover and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 1/2 hours. Remember, yeast is like a little baby – it needs a full belly (sugar), warm (sunny windowsill or warm hot press/airing cupboard) and cosy (cover it up to keep draughts away). It should have doubled in size.
Divide in to a workable size (I usually divide in two). Roll out in to a rectangle. Cover this with melted butter and a thick, generous layer of brown sugar. Demerara sugar will give you a slight crunch at the end and soft brown sugar will give you a gooey, almost molasses type taste. Dark brown sugar I find too much in this recipe. Then sprinkle on a good layer of cinnamon. Again thickness depends on your taste. Experiment and see what works for you.
Roll up like a Swiss roll. Then, using a scissors or string, cut off slices about 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick. Place in a greased baking dish leaving a little bit of room between each one. Press down. Allow to rise to fill the pan – about an hour.
Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes. Don’t over bake and remove immediately. Eat as soon as you can manage it. But they are also good cold. And excellent with coffee.