If you’re looking for the ideal cinnamon rolls, look no further. The dough is perfect and simple, spicy and flavorful, and I opt for a sprinkling of crunchy sugar in place of too-sweet icing. But the best part is that you make them now, ahead of time, and freeze them. A note on the ingredients: I’ve given this recipe with gram measurements for the dry ingredients for two reasons. First, I’ve found that the variations between cup measures really can make a difference in this dough in particular. Second, it makes it easier to scale up to accommodate a breakfast crowd of any size. Or even if you’ve only got a few to feed, feel free to scale up anyway and keep the extra buns ready to go in the freezer. Finally, I like to make this dough in the stand mixer, but if you don’t have one, it will work just as well to knead by hand.
12 large rolls
- Make the dough: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the buttermilk and milk, and continue to warm until the mixture reaches about 110°F. The buttermilk might curdle a bit, but that’s fine.
- Transfer the butter mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let it sit for a few minutes. Add the flours, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Stir with a large spoon to combine, then knead with the dough hook for three minutes. The dough will be warm and easy to handle. Transfer it to a greased bowl, cover with a dishtowel, and leave it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
- Flour a board or counter, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. While it rests, prepare the filling: Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 20 by 24 inches. Use your hands to separate the butter for the filling into little bits, spacing them evenly around the dough. Then press the butter into the dough, gently rubbing it into a single layer that reaches to all the edges of the dough. Top with the cinnamon mixture. Then, starting with the closest edge to you, roll the dough away from you into a tight log. Cut the log into 1 1/2-inch slices, and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least six hours, then transfer the rolls to a freezer bag for up to four months.
- The night before you’re ready to bake, remove as many rolls as you like from the freezer. Grease a baking dish large enough to give at least 1 inch between rolls. Put the rolls in the dish, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the rolls out at room temperature overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the plastic wrap, and use a pastry brush to coat the tops and sides of the rolls with egg. (If some of the rolls have risen into one another, it’s okay. Just brush the sides that are still accessible.) Sprinkle the sugar over the tops and sides of the rolls and bake until slightly golden, 17 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Recipe by Alana Chernila
Alana Chernila is the author of "The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making" and "The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure." She has contributed to Martha Stewart Living magazine and Food52. For more of her writing, visit eatingfromthegroundup.com.