Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is more comforting in cold weather than a fresh, warm and gooey cinnamon roll, am I right or am I right? Yeah. I’m right. Cinnamon rolls have always been there for me, through the good and the bad. If you’re having a tough day there’s nothing that 2 (or 3 or 4 or 6) warm cinnamon rolls won’t fix.

What happens in my home lately goes like this: I write and test recipes, photograph them, and then I’m left with copious amounts of pastries and snacks. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? I’ll admit that it’s very dreamlike until there’s a

Bûche de Noël taking up an entire shelf of your tiny French refrigerator. Your conscience says no, but your body and your heart say yes and before you know it, you’ve blacked out and eaten enough for six people. Just kidding, what? Of course I would never do that. That’s just ridiculous…

This recipe will make 6 cinnamon rolls. You can make it by hand, or with the help of a mixer. I recommend using the mixer for this because it can be tough to incorporate the second half of the flour, but it can be done!

I like to bake mine in a muffin pan. This constricts the area they grow in, and pushes them up to be taller, which I like. The sugary filling also caramelizes around the bottom of the muffin pan, giving you a truly sticky and gooey roll. This is my favorite part. But! Never fear, they don’t have to go into a muffin pan! For larger, fluffier rolls, just pop them on a baking pan. They will spread more, and they will still taste amazing.They will also get a little more crispy, so if that’s something you prefer you should just nix the muffin pan idea.

Ingredients:

¼ cup (50g) of white sugar

½ stick (56g) of butter, cut into cubes

1 pkg (7g) instant yeast

2.75 cups (350g) of all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup (120g) whole milk, warm

1 teaspoon salt

For Filling:

Room temperature butter, or melted

¼ cup (55g) brown sugar

½ cup (50g) white sugar

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1. Combine warm milk with yeast and set aside.

2. In bowl of mixer, combine sugar, flour, salt, and butter (not warm but not cold). Run on low speed with paddle attachment until you see no more butter chunks, about 5 minutes.

3. Add beaten egg to milk and yeast mixture.

4. With machine running on low to medium speed, pour in the liquid. Let combine fully, then turn up the speed for 1 minute. Turn off mixer. Cover with a kitchen towel and proof for about an hour or until doubled.

*At this point you can refrigerate overnight and shape the next day, then proof for 1 hour if you prefer.*

5. Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle (my measurements are about 7″ x 9″). Don’t roll it too thin or your rolls won’t hold up well. Butter the entire surface and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and a bit of salt. Roll up the rectangle and cut it into six rolls. Proof for one hour.

6. Egg wash and bake in an oven on 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or until a lovely brown color is reached. Drizzle with a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar and about 2 tablespoons of milk… Or enjoy it without the glaze!

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The Baker’s Secrets: Tips & Tricks I Learned in Professional Bakeries

I’ve been lucky enough to work in some great restaurants and bakeries, like Bakeri and Ovenly in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve worked with some great people, and I’ve learned from some really awesome people. The industry is a rough place and finding your way through it as a young baker or cook can be exhausting and unforgiving. That being said, it’s also taught me a lot of skills that I will hold onto for the rest of my life! Working in professional bakeries is truly a treat. Some of these tips and tricks you may already know… I would give you a cookie if I could. 😉

1. Scale, scale, scale. The only way you can ever rely on a recipe to produce the same product time and again is if you scale it. When I started baking, I didn’t know this. I showed up to a trail in a restaurant and was asked to scale something. I confessed my lack of knowledge regretfully, and didn’t get the job. Now, my scale is my best friend and I take full advantage of its powers. You can snag one for around $20. 

2. No room temperature butter? No problem. Over the 2 years and some change that I worked with Shuna Lydon, she taught me more than anyone has ever taught me in my life. Honestly! One day at work she was quizzing the bakers, asking “what do you do when you need to room temp butter for a recipe, but all of your butter is cold?” Various answers came up,  ranging from “microwave?” (NO!) to “top of the oven?” (NO!) and a few others. It turns out the best way to bring butter to room temperature quickly is to slice it thinly and let it sit for 10ish minutes. When you slice the butter into thinner slices, it takes much less time to warm up than if it was still one big cold block. 

3. Also while working at Bakeri, I learned the art of lifting pies, loaves, and tarts out of their pans with parchment paper. I’m not saying Bakeri invented the wheel when it comes to this technique, but this was the first place I learned it, and I cherish it for that and many other reasons. It’s simple: before lining your pie or tart, put a piece of parchment in the bottom of your pan. It doesn’t change anything – except the amount of difficulty you can sometimes face getting your pie out of the pan! When your pie is done baking, let it cool, then lift it out carefully using the parchment you so intelligently thought to place underneath your gorgeous creation. 

4. The changing of seasons affects your baking, and so does the weather. If it’s super humid or raining outside, your pate brisee might need a little less water than it does on other days. If it’s especially wet outside, good luck with meringues! This can also change the baking time of pastries. Actual changes are slight, but worth noting and being prepared for.

 
5. My very first professional pastry job was in a hotel restaurant in NYC. My chef’s name was Crystal, and let’s just say she had a LOT of patience. She also taught me the art of mise en place. Mise en place is important. In French it literally means “to put in place.” It sounds like a fancy term that maybe only professionals utilize, but it’s much more than that – it’s a roll call for all of the ingredients. You can count the ingredients and cross check it with the recipe you’re preparing. Missing one? Not anymore. When you’re preparing a complex or time sensitive recipe, measuring out all of your ingredients can be the small step that makes all the difference. 

6. You can’t always trust ovens. Crazy, right? It’s true – some ovens run hot. Some ovens run several degrees under what you set them at. If you have a sneaky suspicion that your oven can’t be trusted, buy a thermometer and confront your oven to its face. It won’t be offended. Also, all ovens are different! This makes “bake times” on recipes only a suggestion. You should always keep an eye on what you’re baking. Check on it halfway through the time you think it should be done and give it a rotation. Never hurt anything! 

7. Cleaning as you go is arguably the most valuable skill you can have in the kitchen. (I still struggle with it.) Sometimes I get too excited about what I’m doing and forget that I’m leaving a trail of bowls, pots, and pans in my wake. If you have a small kitchen, like I do here in France (I can touch both walls if I spread out my arms), cleaning is even more important. I need to practice what I preach with this one. 🙂

8. You are your own biggest critic (most of the time). That small imperfection that just ruined your day will more than likely go unnoticed by everyone else. This doesn’t just go for professionals, but for home cooks and bakers too. Don’t be too hard on yourself! 

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** All of the opinions in this post are my own and have nothing to do with the persons or bakeries mentioned. **

Photos are from Bakeri, 105 Freeman St Brooklyn, NY