Wednesday, December 17, 2014

brown butter bourbon cinnamon rolls

On Christmas morning, our family makes a huge brunch: eggs, bacon, grits, coffee cake, fresh fruit, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes. Oh yeah, and mimosas. Lots of mimosas. We often have homemade cinnamon rolls, courtesy of our sister Danielle. Unfortunately, we'll only get to see her via FaceTime this Christmas, so I'll take over cinnamon roll duty this year.

I took my favorite cinnamon roll recipe and added the only two things that could make it better: brown butter and bourbon! These are easy to make, not overly sweet, and completely delicious. They'll be the perfect addition to our holiday brunch!

Browned butter bourbon cinnamon rolls
adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

7 tablespoons butter
13 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
    for the glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown 7 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over medium-high heat. Pour the butter into a large metal or glass mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until the butter has solidified, but is not too hard. Cream together the butter and half (6 1/2 tablespoons) of sugar. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and yeast.

Add the flour and milk, and mix until the dough forms a loose ball. Knead the dough by hand for about 15 minutes (or about 10 in the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook). You may need to add a few tablespoons of flour as you knead to achieve a smooth dough that isn't sticky.

Return the dough to the bowl, spray with cooking oil, and roll the ball around to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 2 hours at room temperature (or refer to notes below to make rolls partially or completely ahead of time). The dough should nearly double in size.

Meanwhile, brown 8 tablespoons of butter and set aside. (The butter needs to stay liquid). In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 6 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches by 9 inches. Brush the surface of the dough with the brown butter, reserving about a tablespoon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, covering the entire surface. Starting on the long side of the rectangle, carefully roll the dough into a log. When you reach the end, gently press the edge into the log, creating a seam. Turn the roll so that the seam is facing down. Trim the ends of the roll off if they are uneven, then gently score the log, creating 12 sections. Gently cut through the roll at each score (or adjust if necessary). Carefully transfer the cut rolls to parchment-lined baking sheets, so that there is about an inch between each roll. You can also place the rolls in a round parchment-line cake pan (about 5 to a pan). Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining brown butter.

Allow the rolls to proof for about an hour at room temperature (or follow instructions in notes below), then preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 22-30 minutes, until they are lightly golden.

Leave the rolls on the pan and prepare the glaze. Pour the milk into the powdered sugar and mix well. Stir in the bourbon and vanilla extract. Add more sugar or liquid if needed to achieve a thick glaze.

Transfer the rolls to a plate and drizzle on the glaze. Serve while still warm, preferably accompanied by a mimosa!

-These can be made with or without a stand mixer. I did not use one.
-These will take close to 5 hours, start to finish. They can be made fully or partially ahead of time. Here are the options:
     -Make the rolls completely the day before. After baking, allow to cool completely, then store in a
     single layer in an airtight bag or container. Warm in the oven before serving, then apply the glaze.
     -Make the dough the night before. Place the dough in the fridge overnight, then remove from the
     fridge about 3 hours before you want to start shaping the rolls. Fill a large glass measuring cup or  
     bowl with water, then microwave for 3-5 minutes and remove. Place the bowl of dough in the
     microwave to rise. Or, if your oven has a dough proofing setting, turn that on and place the bowl
     of dough in the oven. (Keep in mind the rolls will still need to proof for 60-90 minutes before
     baking for about 30 minutes.)
     -Make the dough and shape the rolls the day before. Place the pan(s) of rolls, loosely covered with
     plastic wrap, in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and allow to proof (using the steps
     above) for about 3 hours, then bake.
-The bourbon can be completely omitted from the glaze. (Just replace it with an equal amount of milk, or even orange juice.)

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