I’ve been sitting on this cinnamon roll recipe for far too long. Since April or May, I think. And I’m just now getting around to sharing it with you, which I think speaks volumes about my dedication to this space (oops/yikes/sorry).
Given the fact I thought I had perfected this recipe way back when, you could say my ego was a little big when I started photographing the development before actually retesting it. In my defense, I went through a number of cinnamon roll trials months prior and I wasn’t going to waste time or ingredients on even more testing when I was certain I had the magic combination written in my notebook. But what do you know? The Universe decided to humble the shit out of me by making sure those cinnamon rolls did not turn out. And when I anxiously pulled the pan from the oven, I let out a heavy sigh when I realized they were separating from their tightly wound innards. This should not happen. Cinnamon rolls should always be fat and sticky and there should be absolutely no crevices in them. None. And should you stumble upon a recipe with aforementioned crevices, you should avoid it like the plague. You should also avoid recipes that promise a magic start-to-finish shortcut because nothing good comes out of a half-assed cinnamon roll making process except.. half-ass cinnamon rolls.
Let that dough rise, yo.
I sat on the couch that afternoon, in the midst of cleaning the house and critically analyzing my song choice for a Best of The National playlist (if you have a favorite NTNL song, please leave it in the comments), trying to figure out where the recipe went astray. There was a pot of orange vegetable soup (squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) bubbling on the stove and a half eaten jar of unsweetened applesauce sitting on the bookshelf. Four different scented candles burning in the living room and a pile of particulate waste waiting to be swept off the floor. There were mismatched socks, pajama pants that were so old they no longer fit, and hair that hadn’t been washed in two days. This is what recipe development looks like over here, folks. And I regret to inform you that it’s nothing short of a disaster.
After looking at the recipe and comparing the steps, I was at a loss and decided the redevelopment would have to wait. So I got up and grabbed the warm loaf with my bare hands and threw it into the garbage. As it slipped from my fingers, the heavy bottom began to stretch and that’s when I realized: it’s not the recipe. IT’S NOT THE RECIPE. IT’S NOT THE MOTHERFUCKING RECIPE! The loaf was underbaked. And so I did a victory slide across the floor in those mismatched socks (one of which I’m pretty sure I pulled from the dirty laundry because that’s what happens when it’s 5AM and your feet are cold and you can’t find the match to the sock you had on when you fell asleep) and then I cleaned up the house, got out of my pajamas, and went on a trail run with one of the most kind and generous and hilarious human beings I’ve ever known.
When I got back from running off my frustration, I remade the cinnamon rolls, stuck them in the fridge, and when they turned out perfectly the next day, I biked two thick slices over to her house because that’s what you do for good people who take care of you – you take care of them, too. Or you, at the very least, tell them thanks with what her significant other said was “Cinnabon x20”. I decided it’s the highest of cinnamon roll compliments considering you can’t go into many shopping centers without encountering a Cinnabon. So there’s that. And here’s a recipe for what might be the most delicious cinnamon rolls to come out of my kitchen.
Happy almost-end-of-the-week, you guys.
Notes: If you want to use spelt or whole wheat flour, knock yourself out. But take note that they’ll be a bit chewier than the kind made with the all purpose variety. Feel free to swap the pumpkin puree with the sweet potato variety, or the sucanat with brown sugar. Due to the amount of sweetener in the creamer, I’ve reduced the sugar measurement in the rolls to 1/3 cup, but if you want to use unsweetened almondmilk (which I had success with) (both varieties are pictured here and you can’t tell the difference, can ya?), increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. If you don’t want to make these rolls in a loaf pan, you can make traditional overnight cinnamon rolls in a square baking pan. Just skip the flattening step and cut the rolls into 9 even pieces. If you want some really unhealthy French toast, slice the loaf into 2″ thick slices and pan-fry away. Oh, and the swirly innards.
This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.
OVERNIGHT PUMPKIN SPICE CINNAMON ROLL LOAF
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 105-108˚F
1/4 cup refined coconut oil
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup Califia Farms original almondmilk creamer
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 3/4 cups unbleached flour, divided
1/2 cup sucanat
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered cane sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and gently stir in the yeast; add pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the oil then stir in the sugar and pumpkin puree just until warm; about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the creamer then let cool for 15 minutes. Add the salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment; mix for 5-10 seconds. Pour in the pumpkin and yeast mixtures and mix on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides as needed. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl after the flour has been incorporated, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, as needed in 1 tablespoon increments, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing on medium speed for 4-5 minutes then remove dough from bowl and knead with your hands for 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared mixing bowl, cover with plastic, and store in a warm part of your house for 90 minutes, or until doubled (if there isn’t a warm place in your house, heat the oven and set the bowl next to it).
Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper then lightly spray with oil; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the sucanat, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into a 22×16 rectangle. Use a pastry brush (or the back of a spoon) to apply the coconut oil then sprinkle with sugar mixture. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a log then press it firmly with your hands to flatten it out (it should measure roughly 22×4 – if it doesn’t continue pressing or rolling with your rolling pin until it is). Cut into segments about 3″ wide then line in loaf pan. Cover pan with plastic and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature then place in fridge to chill overnight (or you could bake them at 350˚F for just over 30 minutes).
The next morning, when you’re ready to bake the rolls, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place a baking sheet (or shallow baking pan) on the bottom rack in your oven and fill it 3/4 full with the boiling water. Remove cinnamon rolls from the fridge, remove the plastic, then place them in the oven, on the rack above the boiling water. Close the door and set a timer for 40 minutes. This step is necessary and will not only help the cinnamon rolls to rise, but will help to liquify the coconut oil before baking.
After 40 minutes, remove the pan of water and the cinnamon rolls. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Brush the tops of the cinnamon rolls with the almondmilk (if desired) then bake at 350˚F for 32-34 minutes, or until golden. Remove loaf (along with the paper) from pan and set on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the icing by stirring together the sugar, cinnamon, and almondmilk. Drizzle over cooled cinnamon rolls and serve. You can store the cinnamon rolls in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 6 thick or 12 thin slices