I’ve had these on my mind for some time. A long time. Even though the dough is like your basic bread the decadent sauce takes it to another level. And yet it is not as sinful as cake (err…if you leave the sauce out, that is). It comes together easily with just a little wait for the yeast to do its thing.
After ogling at many house-and-garden magazine in the college library while at graduate school, I finally succumbed and subscribed to one – Cuisine. Low annual subscriptions for most magazines in the US make them affordable even for poor students from India. When you are home sick, missing your husband and your little boy, there is much comfort to be derived from staring at pictures of delicious looking food; it’s not called food porn for no reason. Cuisine was 44 pages of only food, no advertisements.
I had a very basic kitchen then; not much in the name of gadgets except for a blender. I don’t recall attempting any of the recipes I would drool over but all the issues of Cuisine were packed along with the text books and brought home to India. Even today, whenever I am feeling a little out of sorts, I sit down with some of my cookbooks and look for something I might want to cook (not for the next meal, necessarily). It never fails to improve the mood even if it might mean butter-toast for dinner!
One of the recipes that I did finally try out were these sinful cinnamon rolls (sorry about the off-colour pictures; they are from two years ago when I hadn’t yet figured out white-balance, much to Manisha’s consternation). They are as decadent as they look especially with the sticky caramel sauce; skip the sauce only if you need to diet. I give in to occasional gluttony; we are all worth it.
Sticky Walnut Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Cuisine (Nov-Dec 1997)
For the dough:
3 1/2 + 1 1/2 C maida (all purpose flour)
1/2 C sugar
1 t salt
1 1/4 C warmed milk
1 T active dried yeast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T unsalted butter, melted (I substituted with 2 T peanut oil)
For the Cinnamon Filling:
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C unsalted butter
3 t cinnamon powder
1 C chopped walnuts (optional)
For the Caramel Sauce:
2 C brown sugar
1 C unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
1 C chopped walnuts
Mix 3 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir the yeast into the warmed milk. Add the milk and yeast mixture, eggs, and oil to the flour mixture. Stir to mix well. Add an additional cup of flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead, gradually adding the remaining flour. Knead for about 8 minutes. Place the dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise till doubled (about 1 1/2-2 hours).
Make the filling by mixing together sugar, cinnamon, and softened butter till smooth and spreadable.
While the dough is rising make the sauce. In a heavy bottom pan combine brown sugar, butter, and cream. Stir over medium heat till the sugar melts. Turn heat off and add the chopped walnuts to the caramel sauce. Divide the caramel sauce between the greased baking pans.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. On a floured surface roll out the dough into a 14″x18″ rectangle. Spread the prepared filling evenly over the dough leaving half inch edge uncovered to make sealing easy. If you like a nutty cinnamon roll, you can sprinkle additional chopped walnuts over the filling. Roll (along the long edge) the dough, keeping it tight. Seal by pulling the edge and pinching the dough together. Cut the roll in half and mark each to make 7 equal sections (about 1 1/4″ lengths). Using a sharp knife cut rolls at the marks. Place rolls into the baking pans over the caramel sauce. The rolls will fit two round 9″pans (I use one 9″ square pan, and a loaf tin). Cover and allow to rise till doubled in size. Bake in the middle of the oven on Gas Mark 4 (350 F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove rolls from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Place a serving plate over the pan and carefully (keeping the pan and the plate together) flip over so that the plate is at the bottom and the pan on top (upside down). Slowly lift away the pan. Viola – you have your sticky cinnamon rolls with the beautiful caramel sauce on top!
You can cook the rolls without the caramel sauce as well, and reduce your guilt!