Growing up, we ate Mom's cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning after we opened our presents. Cinnamon rolls were always something special to me. Now, as a grown up with my own family, I'm a little more liberal about making cinnamon rolls - it's not just a once a year occurrence. Last week, I baked some cinnamon rolls for my friends when I hosted a playgroup at my house, and I even tried a different cinnamon roll recipe. Not surprisingly, it was not as yummy as the one my mother used to make. I'll have to ask her to write it down one of these days, because I don't think I've ever been able to reproduce them as good as she did. In the meantime, here's a pretty good recipe - my friends loved them - but not the creme de la creme.
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
3/4 cup buttermilk, warmed to 110 degrees
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but still sticks to the botom.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt together in a small bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press it into a 16x12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over top of it, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge. Press on the filling to adhere it to the dough.
5. Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scrape or metal spatula, and roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log seam side down. Gently stretch the log to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter and pat the ends to even them.
6. Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls (about 1 1/2 inches wide) using a serrated knife. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared baking pan and wrap tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
7. Flip the rolls out onto a wire rack set over a sheet of parchment paper (for easy cleanup) and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the confectioners' sugar, softened cream cheese, buttermilk and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth. Flip the rolls upright, drizzle with the glaze and serve.