Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls

Source: King Arthur Baking (This is King Arthur’s 2021 Recipe of the Year!)

Yield: 8 big ol’ rolls

Ingredients

Tangzhong:

  • ½ cup (113g) whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp (23g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

Dough:

  • 2/3 cup (151g) whole milk, cold
  • 2 ½ cups (300g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp (25g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 Tbsp (57g) unsalted butter, softened

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp (14g) butter, melted
  • ½ cup (107g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Burlap & Barrel Royal Cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Butter Glaze:

  • 1 ½ Tbsp (21g) butter, melted

Icing:

  • 1 ½ Tbsp (21g) butter, melted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cups (170g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp Burlap & Barrel Royal Cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp (14g to 28g) whole milk or cream

NOTE: Tangzhong is an Asian bread baking technique in which you cook a wee bit of the recipe’s flour and liquid into a thick slurry, which pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour. This allows your baked goods to remain softer and fresher longer. Wanna learn more? Read King Arthur’s articles “Introduction to tangzhong” and “A closer look at tangzhong.”

Directions

  1. Start by making the tangzhong. In a small pot, whisk together ½ cup (113g) whole milk and 3 tablespoons (23g) bread flour until all lumps of flour are gone.
  2. Place pot over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens, 1–3 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture is somewhat paste-like.
  3. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into mixer bowl. Add remaining (cold) milk, bread flour, and the rest of the dough ingredients in the order listed above.
    NOTE: Yep, cold milk is a-okay here! Since you’re adding it first, the heat from the tangzhong will warm up the milk.
  4. Attach dough hook to mixer, then mix on low until the dough comes together. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, which will take 10–20 minutes. (Dough may still be a smidge sticky.)
  5. Shape dough into a ball, then place back in mixer bowl. Cover bowl with beeswax wrap or cling film and place in a warm, dry spot and leave undisturbed until dough is puffy, 60–90 minutes.
    NOTE: The dough doesn’t have to completely double in bulk, but you want it to get good and puffy.
  6. While your dough is proofing, make the filling. In a medium bowl, mix all filling ingredients until thoroughly combined and all dry ingredients have been moistened by the butter. Set aside.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  8. After dough has proofed, turn out onto a lightly greased work surface. (We sprayed our surface with baking spray.) Press dough into a 10" x 12" rectangle with sharp-ish corners.
  9. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar filling all over the dough, leaving a bare ½" border along one long side. Very lightly press filling into dough.
  10. Start rolling dough up from the long side covered with filling. You want the log to stay together, but don’t roll the log suuuuper tight; otherwise, your rolls won’t have room to proof properly.
  11. With your dough log sitting seam-side down, lightly score log into 8 equal pieces. Your buns will end up being 1.5–2" each. (For example, our dough log was 14" long, so we cut at 1.75" intervals.)
  12. Using unflavoured dental floss (or a sharp knife or bench scraper), cut log into 8 equal pieces.
  13. Place rolls onto prepared baking sheet, giving them plenty of room to grow. (A 3-2-3 placement works well.) Tuck tails under the rolls to keep ‘em from unrolling during the proof or the bake.
  14. Cover with lightly greased cling film. Place baking sheet in a warm, dry spot and leave undisturbed for 30–60 minutes until rolls have puffed up.
    NOTE: Wondering if your rolls have proofed enough? Give one a wee poke with your finger. If indentation springs back slowly, buns are ready to be baked. If the indentation springs back quickly, buns need to continue proofing.
  15. Towards the end of the dough’s rising time, move oven rack into top third of oven. Heat oven to 375°F.
  16. Bake for 14–18 minutes or until light golden brown. (Internal temperature should be around 190°F.)
  17. As soon as you remove the rolls from the oven, brush ‘em with 1 ½ tablespoons (21g) of melted butter.
  18. Place baking sheet on wire rack and allow rolls to cool for 10–15 minutes before icing.
  19. While the rolls are cooling, mix all icing ingredients in a medium bowl. Switch to a whisk to ensure that the icing is nice and smooth.
  20. Once rolls have cooled a bit, spread icing on top and serve immediately.
    NOTE: If you’re planning on eating the rolls later, wait until just before serving to ice. Store bare rolls and frosting in separate, sealed containers at room temperature until it’s time to chow down.

Love this recipe, but want to try some different shaping techniques? Learn how to turn this dough into a braid, épi de blé, Swedish tea ring, and more from King Arthur’s article “Think beyond the cinnamon roll.”

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