As I mentioned, there are (at least) three problems with rainy days. First, I can’t play golf! Second, if I can’t golf, I WILL bake and third, lots of rain equals lots of baking which results in and increased waistline, which doesn’t help my golf swing any.
I craved these perfectly puffy cinnamon rolls (recipe from King Arthur) for a while, and when QC causally mentioned them, it was only a matter of time before I was rained out (again.) These atmospheric rivers are bad for my golf, and my waistline.
This recipe makes nine 1.5” thick cinnamon rolls. As usual, I gave several away and am trying hard not to eat the rest while watching golf for the next two straight days.
Sadly, we aren’t expecting a golfable day for the next 5 days. So much time, so much to bake.
You don’t hear it mentioned often, but there is a major problem with the game of golf. Although it is possible the problem is with those who play golf.
I play three times a week, which means there are four mornings a week that I don’t play golf and therein lies the problem. What am I going to do with those four mornings?
Sadly, sort of, I saw a new recipe for cinnamon buns this week, and I am not playing golf this morning…. so.
King Arthur Baking published this recipe for Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Buns. Often, once the bun cools, while still flavorful, it becomes more dense. Not these! They remain soft and fresh up to four days after baking. The secret is using a tangzhong in the dough batter. Tangzhong is a mix of milk and flour which is mixed and heated to a thick paste before adding the rest of the dough ingredients. It’s easy, you only need to know to do it.
I made the recipe as listed below, except not having whole milk I mixed 2% milk and whipping cream in a 80:20 ratio. I also only used the cream for the icing. The result is outstanding! We are waiting for the QC report, but manufacturing gives these rolls a big thumbs up!
Tangzhong • 1/2 cup (113g) whole milk • 3 tablespoons (23g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
Dough • 2/3 cup (151g) whole milk, cold • 2 1/2 cups (300g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar • 2 teaspoons instant yeast • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, softened
Filling • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted • 1/2 cup (107g) light brown sugar, packed • 2 tablespoons (15g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour • 4 teaspoons (10g) cinnamon • 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt
Icing • 3 tablespoons (42g) butter, melted, divided • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt • 1 1/2 cups (170g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted • 1 to 2 tablespoons (14g to 28g) milk, cream, or buttermilk; enough to thin to desired consistency
To make the tangzhong: Combine both the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This should take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your burner.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or the bucket of a bread machine (whatever you plan to knead the dough in).
To make the dough: Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl in the order listed; the heat from the tangzhong will help to warm the cold milk.
Mix — by hand, on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or in a bread machine set to the dough cycle — to bring the dough together. Next, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and tacky. This will take up to 15 minutes by hand, 10 to 12 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer, or the length of the dough cycle in a bread machine.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover.
Let the dough rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen).
To make the filling: While the dough is rising, put the melted butter into a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. Set aside.
To assemble the rolls: Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and press it into a 10” x 12” rectangle that’s about 1/2” thick. For evenly shaped rolls, try to pat the dough into an actual rectangle (with corners), rather than an oval.
Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2” strip along one long side.
Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.
Score the dough lightly into eight equal 1 1/2” to 2” pieces. Cut the dough at the score marks, using dental floss for the cleanest cut. If you don’t have dental floss, a bench knife or sharp knife will work.
Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so there’s at least 2” between each one and they’re 2” away from the edges of the pan; a 3-2-3 arrangement works well. To prevent them from unraveling while they rise and bake, tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the rolls so that they’re held in place.
Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The rolls should be puffy and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when gently pressed.
About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the rolls for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F. Bake for the lesser amount of time for extra-soft rolls, and the longer amount of time for rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.
Remove the rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack, and brush the hot rolls with 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) of the melted butter. Let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.
To make the icing: Combine the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) melted butter with the remaining icing ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing with a spatula until smooth.
Ice the rolls and serve immediately. If you’re planning to serve the rolls later, wait to ice them until just before serving. Store icing at room temperature, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.
Store completely cooled rolls, un-iced and well wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature; or freeze for up to 1 month.
To reheat leftover rolls: These rolls stay wonderfully soft for at least 3 days. The best way to enjoy them for breakfast is to bake them the day before, store them tightly sealed (and un-iced) at room temperature overnight, then the next morning lightly cover the rolls with foil and warm them in a 300°F to 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread with icing and enjoy.
Tips from the KAB Bakers
With origins in Japan’s yukone (or yudane), tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Chinese cookbook author Yvonne Chen. Tangzhong involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which makes them more able to retain liquid — thus enhancing the resulting loaf’s softness and shelf life.
These rolls are bakery-sized, meaning big enough to enjoy as an indulgent breakfast or snack. For smaller-sized rolls perfect for a side dish at brunch, score and divide the dough into ten 1” to 1 1/2” pieces and bake for 13 to 16 minutes.
Do you enjoy your cinnamon rolls with tangy, thick cream cheese frosting instead of vanilla icing? Stir in 4 to 6 tablespoons (57g to 90g) softened cream cheese to the icing along with the other ingredients. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier this will be to do. Resist the urge to add more than 2 teaspoons of milk until the icing is fully mixed. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more milk a teaspoon at a time to get it to the consistency you prefer.
Wondering about all the liquid choices for thinning the frosting? Milk is certainly the most convenient, but if you have cream or buttermilk, the former will add an extra layer of richness, while the latter will add a subtle tang to balance out the sweetness.
Tangzhong was developed in Asia and used in both China and Japan as a method of keeping bread soft and fresh. Tangzhong is a mixture of flour, water and milk, heated while stirring until the “water roux” thickens. The tangzhong is added to the rest of the ingredients and processed more or less normally. The result is a soft, pillowy white bread (see how I cleverly incorporated the title into the body of this post?)
I found the rise and proofing times were much longer that suggested in the recipes. I thought my yeast may have lost potency so I tested it in a water/sugar solution. (1/2 cup water @ 110-115F, 1 tsp sugar, 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Mix and after 10 minutes the mixture should have grown to 1 cup. It was fine. The problem is I now had the beginnings of another bread/pastry or something. QA Department to the rescue—See subsequent post on cinnamon rolls.)
The long proof times were likely due to the cooler temperatures in the kitchen today. (It was only 62F when I started.)
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
Place the saucepan over low heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the tangzhong to a small mixing bowl or measuring cup and let it cool to lukewarm. Dough
Combine the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients, then mix and knead — by mixer or bread machine — until a smooth, elastic dough forms; this could take almost 15 minutes in a stand mixer.
Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased bowl, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk. (120 min in cool kitchen)
Gently deflate the dough and divide it into four equal pieces; if you have a scale each piece will weigh between 170g and 175g.
Flatten each piece of dough into a 5″ x 8″ rectangle, then fold the short ends in towards one another like a letter. Flatten the folded pieces into rectangles again (this time about 3″ x 6″) and, starting with a short end, roll them each into a 4″ log.
Place the logs — seam side down and side by side — in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
Cover the loaf and allow it to rest/rise for 40 to 60 minutes, until puffy. (I put the dough into a proofing oven for this and let it rise until the tops of the rolls were even with the top of the pan.)
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Brush the loaf with milk and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown on top and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads at least 190°F.
Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it in the pan until you can transfer it safely to a rack to cool completely.
Store leftover bread, well wrapped, at cool room temperature for 5 to 7 days; freeze for longer storage.