Great cookbooks inspire us. When I read a great cookbook – as I’ve been doing extensively this summer and plan to continue in the fall – I feel as if special secrets are being shared with me. I’m transported to a quiet kitchen with a half-open window, the sounds of birds singing, and warm smells permeating in my nose. Flour everywhere, sticky glazes leaving a sheen along the surfaces. A great cookbook transports you and invokes a desire to bake that can only be satisfied when the oven is preheated and the standing mixer is churning ingredients.
My latest cookbook beloved is A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets. When I embarked on absorbing and devouring this text, I had one thing in mind: I wanted to read about the delicious pastries I see through glass cases when I’ve visited bakeries across the country. I want to experience what those bakers are creating and make it in my own kitchen. First stop: cinnamon rolls. While I’ve made countless cinnamon rolls in my kitchen, I wanted to explore them from the perspective and the recipe stash of a renowned baking legend. I enjoyed the more narrative style of these recipes and the high level of detail.
Cinnamon is one of my favorite and most frequently used spices. It’s so warming, so reminiscent of home. When I think of cinnamon, I think of being wrapped in a blanket while reading my favorite book. And with the abundant amount of this spice always freshly ground and nearby in my kitchen, I immediately fell in love with this recipe.
These cinnamon rolls are exactly what you would expect at your local bakery or coffee shop. They are large, soft, and filled with sugar and spice. They incorporate a butter streusel along with cinnamon and sugar to create a flavor that is second to none. Instead of merely buttering the dough, sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar, and rolling, this recipe incorporates a separate streusel mixture to layer over the dough comprised of butter, two types of sugar, and flour.
I made these for my husband’s birthday, and when he took the first bite, his eyes lit up with amazement. And naturally, I swelled with pride. These are the best cinnamon rolls to have exited my oven. The hardened sugary coating of the streusel bursting from the top of each roll; the soft, melty center. Perfection. We didn’t even both with the icing I made.
Taking a break over the last weeks from developing my own recipes and allowing myself to be inspired by the recipes shared by others in cookbooks filled with learned baking wisdom has been wonderful for me. It’s allowed me to examine my own baking through the delicious delights of others. The inspiration is beyond measure.
Sugar Buns (Cinnamon Rolls)
From A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets / George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein, and Issac Bleicher
Yields 12 rolls
- For the Butter Streusel
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- A pinch of teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A pinch of ground nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 1/2 pound portion of Bundt Dough
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, plus more to taste
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
Begin by making the Butter Streusel. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, a handheld beater, or a food processor fitted with the steel blade (the option I used), mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, two cups of the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Mix with short pulses only until combined; do not cream. (If mixing by hand, rub the brown and granulated sugars and butter between your fingers, until it resembles coarse grain, and then add the two cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and vanilla.) Add the additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if a small amount of streusel does not clump together when pinched and rolled together. Transfer to a covered container.
On to the cinnamon buns! Grease two jumbo 4-inch muffin tins (with six muffin cups each) or two 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pans.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle measuring 18 to 20 inches long and 14 inches wide; have the long side facing you. While rolling, dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Brush off any excess flour and then paint the dough with melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top. Rub the streusel through a sieve to resemble coarse grains or break up by hand using your fingers. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the buttered dough. Lightly beat the egg with water to make an egg wash.
To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (if you’re including them – I didn’t). Sprinkle over the streusel.
Brush the 1/2-inch border at the top with egg wash. Starting at the bottom edge, fold over a flap about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. Fold over again and press down lightly. Keep folding and pressing until the end is reached. Seal the seam by pressing with your fingertips. Roll the dough over so the seam is centered along the bottom.
Trim the ends. Brush the top with melted butter. Cut into 12 equal pieces. Place in the muffin tins or evenly space six on each baking pan, cut side up. Brush the tops with the egg wash. Set aside and allow to rise over the top of the rim, at least 45 minutes (time will vary with temperature and humidity).
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until evenly browned. The time varies with the size of the buns and the pan being used. If the top browns too quickly, cover with a tent cut from aluminum foil or a brown paper grocery bag. When done, the top of each bun should feel firm to the touch and spring back when lightly pressed with the fingers.
If you are using baking pans, cool in the pan on a wire rack. If you are using muffin tins, allow the buns to cool for five minutes and then remove them from the tins by placing an inverted baking sheet over the top and flipping the muffins over. Use oven mitts or pads to avoid burning your fingers and invert each roll so that the baked top is upright.
Serve warm or at room temperature with or without your favorite icing. The buns keep well in a plastic bag for several days at room temperature, or frozen for up to six weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own. I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.