Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

If your holidays are anything like mine, you are now juggling seven people and two cats in not half as many rooms, carrying a newborn while making Christmas dinner, shaking your head at the now-silly notion that giving family outings and charitable donations as gifts would somehow make things easier, and wondering why didn't we just go to Vegas as planned? They clean up after you!

This, after hearing your three year old announce, "Mama, I'm all done sleeping," at eleven o'clock the night prior. And she was.

If this sounds too familiar, you will welcome the simple pleasure of making cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Start the night before, and bake on rising. Your home will be filled with the aromas of comfort and joy. And like every good gift, the giving is the very best part.

Cinnamon Rolls
16 large rolls
This recipe has absurd amounts of everything, from margarine to cinnamon. Trust it, and you’ll be rewarded with pastries that taste exactly like the ones from Cinnabon. The dough also doubles as the most buttery, decadent dinner rolls.

For the Dough:
1/3 cup water, at room temperature
1-1/4 ounce package yeast
1 cup non-dairy milk
½ cup sweet potato puree, or cooked mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan sugar
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
¼ teaspoon sea salt

For the Filling:
1/2 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon

For the Icing:
4 ounces non-dairy cream cheese or Chévre
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Generously grease one 14” round or 2 9”x9” square or 2 9” round baking pans, and set aside.

Make the Dough: Combine the water, yeast, and a small pinch of sugar to proof the yeast (see page 56); after 2-5 minutes it should appear slightly foamy. Add non-dairy milk, sweet potato, margarine, and vanilla in that order, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, wheat gluten, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. On the dough setting, pulse dry ingredients several times. With the processor running, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the feed tube. Pulse until the dough clumps together and just begins to clean the sides of the processor. Allow to rest 2 minutes for the gluten to relax and the dough to absorb its moisture. Continue processing until the dough is sticky and shiny, but not too warm, as this can kill the yeast and prevent rising. Alternately, use a handheld mixer to combine the liquid ingredients with the dry. Once it gets unwieldy and stiff, turn it out and knead by hand for 4-6 minutes. The dough will be sticky and a bit difficult to manage; resist the temptation to add extra flour.

Place dough in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and allow to double in size (this will take 1-3 hours, depending on temperature, altitude, and so on).

Punch the dough down, and gather the risen edges into the punched center; you’ll have a ball with an indentation in the center. Allow it to rest for several minutes, and get on with the assembly.

Make the Icing: With a handheld mixer, beat the non-dairy cream cheese or Chévre and margarine until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and continue beating for 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon zest. The icing can be made several days in advance and refrigerated.

To Assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 15" x 24" rectangle, with the long side facing you. If the dough shrinks, let it rest for 3-5 minutes; this will allow the gluten to relax. Spread with softened margarine, keeping a clean 1" border at the edge closest to you. Let the dough relax again while you prepare the rest of the filling.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Scatter this mixture evenly over the dough, keeping the 1" edge clean. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently press the sugar mixture into the margarine.

Beginning at the end farthest from you, tightly roll toward yourself, lifting and stretching as you go. Start at one side, and roll to the other, then back again. You should end up with a 24" long log of dough.

Get some dental floss (any flavor will do). Slide it under the log about 1 ½”, then pull the ends together to create neat edges. Repeat at 1 ½” intervals. You should have 16 rolls.

Place the rolls 1" apart in prepared pans. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to double in size, about 1 hour. At this point, the rolls can be covered loosely in plastic and refrigerated overnight.

Bake in a 350ºF oven for 15-20 minutes (5 more if refrigerated), until cinnamon rolls are lightly browned and still soft. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then slather with icing while warm.

Serve right away. The rolls will be gooey and dripping with liquified cinnamon, just as they should be.

Wishing you the happiest of days this season, and above all, peace, peace, peace.