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Can be made ahead of time.
Here at the Dodge lodge, we’ve been making these cinnamon rolls for years. In fact, they are a family holiday staple, and Thanksgiving or Christmas morning would not be complete without them. My son, Alex, is the family’s official Baker of the Cinnamon roll, a title he carries with pride and a level of responsibility and enthusiasm. The tender rolls are moist and buttery, and they make a perfect vehicle for the swirled cinnamon-sugar filling.
When I’m baking for the holidays, I double this dough recipe, shape half of it into dinner rolls and make the other half into these cinnamon-laden breakfast treats. Come holiday time, both are welcome indulgences.
1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and the 8 tablespoons butter. Set over medium heat and heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the liquid registers about 125 degrees (52°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat.
2. To mix by hand: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.
3. Check the temperature of the milk mixture; it should now register about 120 degrees (49°C) on an instant-read thermometer. In order for the yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115 and 125 degrees (46 and 52°C). Add the warm liquid and the egg to the flour and stir with the wooden spoon until a rough, shaggy dough forms. Lightly dust a work surface with a little flour. Dump the dough onto the surface.
4. Knead the dough with your hands. It will be sticky at first, but resist the urge to add more flour. First, gather the dough together. Next, using the heel of one hand, push the top part of the dough away from you. Fold that piece over the part of the dough nearest you. Give the dough a quarter turn clockwise and repeat. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Proceed as directed in step 5.
2. To mix in a stand mixer: In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Whisk until well blended.
3. Check the temperature of the milk mixture; it should now register about 120 degrees (49°C) on an instant-read thermometer. In order for the yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115 and 125 degrees (46 and 52°C).
4. Fit the mixer with the dough hook. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture and add the egg. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the bottom of the bowl (a little will stick to the sides), about 5 minutes. If the dough begins to climb the hook, stop the mixer and scrape the dough back into the bowl, Repeat as needed. Don’t venture too far away while the dough is mixing, as the mixer might dance around on the counter because of the large amount of dough. Proceed as directed in step 5.
5. Let the dough rise: Scoop up the dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl and pop the dough back into it. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. (I like to use a large rubber band to hold the plastic in place.) Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, 45 to 55 minutes.
6. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Whisk until well blended. Set aside. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch (22.75-by-33 cm) baking dish (I use Pyrex). Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (there’s no need to flour; the dough is soft but not sticky) and press down gently to deflate it. Roll out the dough into a 12-by-17-inch (30.5-by-43 cm) rectangle. Use your hand to stretch the dough gently when necessary. Pour the melted butter into the center of the rectangle and spread evenly over the dough with a spatula (a rubber one is fine, but I use a small offset spatula). Don’t worry if a little spills over the edge. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the butter, spreading with your hand, if necessary.
7. Starting on a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Pinch the long seam of the dough to the roll to seal. Position the roll, seam side down, on the work surface and cut into slices 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the prepared pan, forming 4 rows of 3 slices each. Using a bench scraper, scoop up any escaped filling and sprinkle it over the rolls. Spray the tops lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm spot until they’re about 1½ times their original size and have risen about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the baking dish (they won’t yet fill the dish), about 40 minutes.
8. While the rolls are rising, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla. Stir until well blended, smooth, and thick. Cover with plastic wrap and stow at room temperature until ready to serve. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees (180°C).
9. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls until they are puffed and well browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let cool slightly. Check the consistency of the glaze; it should form a thick ribbon when it is dropped from a spoon. If it’s too thick, add a drop or two more cream. Serve the rolls warm with a thick ribbon of glaze over each roll.
• Prepare the dough through step 5, but let rise until only about 1½ times its original size, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the recipe. It will continue to rise slowly in the fridge.
• Prepare the dough through step 7, but let the rolls rise until only about 1½ times their original size, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the rolls for up to 12 hours before proceeding with the recipe. Remove from the fridge and set on the counter while heating the oven.
• Prepare the rolls through step 9 and let cool completely. Freeze the rolls in a heavy-duty freezer bag for up to 2 months.
Nutritional information is based on a serving size of 1 cinnamon roll.