Autumn Mornings

So a few days ago (or maybe it was just yesterday, who knows), I read about what was probably the most awesome and photo-worthy brunch ever for the blogging world – Joy the Baker & Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere. I have long been a fan of both these blogs so of course I couldn’t wait to see what the two of them collaborated over for their meet-up. My highlight from reading the posts: Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls. Don’t those just sound like autumn? Say it out loud a few times, it’ll hit you. Or maybe not. Anyway, be sure to go check out their posts and see all the wonderful photos & other things they did, in addition to making these perfect Autumn breakfast/brunch/lunch/anytime treats.

So yes, rather than do the million other things I needed to do last night, I began making chai spiced cinnamon roll dough. Just look at that wonderful ball of dough. The aroma of cinnamon filled my kitchen last night and it was AWESOME. Also, a whole stick of melted butter gets drizzled in at this point – how can this recipe not be amazing?

You roll it, you pat it, you mark it with a…wait a second, that’s not right. Anyway…skipping ahead after the letting it rise bit, I rolled this sucker into what I would guesstimate is a 9×13 square. Or maybe 9×12? Not sure. I just kept rolling because I felt like it was too thick at the 10×10 mark.

Roll it tightly into a delicious spicy-cinnamon cylinder.

AND NOW WE DRIZZLE MORE MELTED BUTTER ON TOP! Pretty sure Paula Deen would be proud.

Baked cinnamon-y deliciousness. Do you see all that caramelized sugar? Crunchy goodness.

Now we drizzle the spiced glaze on top! Time to eat!

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Dough
1 – 1/4 oz (just over 2 teaspoons) package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 1/2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Spiced Icing:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk (I would like to note that Joy says to use heavy cream, but alas, I was out of heavy cream and only had milk – it works fine, it’s just not as rich)
a healthy dash of cinnamon (and by healthy, I mean your hand accidentally slips and there’s close to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in there)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dough:

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to about 115 degrees F – warm but not scalding hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast.  Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add remaining sugar, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk.  Beat with a wire whisk until well combined.  Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment.  Add the flour, spices, and  salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together.  Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.  The dough will be very moist.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter about 1 tablespoon at a time and continue to knead for about 6 minutes.  The dough will be wet and sticky.  Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough.  The dough will likely be a little sticky still, not to worry.  Place the giant ball of dough into a greased bowl (I just take a dab of butter or vegetable oil – whichever is closet – and rub it around the mixing bowl that I just used, to save dishes). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (If your house is a bit chilly, this make take up to 3 hours).

While the dough rises, make the filling.  Combine the sugar,  brown sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the maple syrup.  The filling should seem like damp sand. That’s such a lovely analogy I know. But that’s what it looked like to me.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface.  Gently knead the dough  adding more flour as needed. Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes.  Once it’s no longer very sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square or just keep rolling until all of a sudden you have a giant thing of cinnamon-y flat dough, like I did. As the picture shows, I ended up with closer to a 9×13 rectangle than a 10×10 square. No matter. This dough is so yeasty that it puffs up like crazy in the oven, so you’re good to go with thin.

Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter (1/2 stick).  We’ll use the rest of the butter after the rolls are cut.

Pour all of the filling onto the dough.  Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch border at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed.  Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder.  Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board.  Using a sharp, thin knife, gently mark how many slices you will make. I left the uneven bits so I ended up with 13 rolls. Joy only had 8. Your choice. Try to get them equal in width though.

Butter a few pie tins, if you have them. Or just butter a 9×13 metal baking dish. Squish those little cinnamon suckers in the pan, so they are snuggled tightly together, but are not bulging out of the pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 1 hour.  You may also cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Which is an awesome idea because then all you have to do is heat the oven, pop them in, and make the frosting. Then voila – delicious Autumn breakfast/brunch).

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Uncover the rolls.  If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.  Drizzle with remaining melted butter and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 – 30 minutes. You may need to adjust this according to your oven. I would recommend checking at about the 18 minute mark, and pricking with a toothpick.

Icing:  While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and milk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack.   Let cool for 5 minutes.  Using your whisk (or a fork), drizzle the spiced icing all over the rolls. Serve immediately. (If you plan to eat them later in the day, microwave them for about 25 – 30 seconds first. You’ll thank me.)

These are crunchy-caramelized sugar-cinnamon-y goodness. Enjoy!

I would like to actually add some brewed chai tea or chai tea concentrate to the dough next time. So this may come up again. We shall see. If you try it, let me know how it comes out!

On an unrelated note, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s wedding – has anyone else read about this? I’m going to have to break my “I don’t buy gossip magazines” rule this week so I can go stalk pictures of their wedding. He serenaded her down the aisle?! Come on, does it get any more romantic than that? Must go find pictures! Okay, I’ll stop.

Anyway, back to what I was talking about before…? Oh right, cinnamon rolls and baking and stuff. So yea, I’ve been inspired by seeing Joy and Emily’s brunch and am now determined to make a baking party happen. Two of my good friends have been wanting to have a baking party with me for about a year now, but I just haven’t got around to planning/making it happen; but no more, it will happen! I have decided, so therefore it will. Check out my Pinterest board featuring some recipes I was thinking we might try for the baking party…oh and of course some good cocktails to sip on while we bake. Maybe I’ll wait till December and make it Christmas themed…hmm…ideas are brewing.

Alrighty,

Happy Halfway Through The Week!

xx

-C

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