An Exercise in Cocooning: Easy-Peasy Cinnamon Rolls

Ah, winter! The most wonderful time of the year. Freezing temperatures, bare trees, clouded skies, sparkling snow flurries… okay, so the flurries are kind of pretty. But otherwise, I’d say that 99% of us can agree that the months from November to March are the best time to stay at home and develop our baking skills. So put on your fuzzy slippers, roll up the sleeves on your shapeless sweater, and get ready to make some cinnamon rolls!

American cinnamon roll

Cinnamon bun recipes often come with complicated lists of ingredients and even more complicated instructions, but we’re busy people, so we’re going to do this the quick n’ easy way.  In order to pull off this cinnamon roll recipe, you’ll need just a few simple ingredients, a standard muffin pan, an eggbeater, a couple of mixing bowls, and… floss. (Just trust me.)

For cinnamon filling:
-1/3 cup butter, softened
-1 cup brown sugar, packed
-3 teaspoons cinnamon

For dough:
-2 cups all-purpose flour (Type 55)
-2 tablespoons white sugar
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 cup butter, chilled
-1 cup cold milk

For frosting:
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons milk
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 400° F (200° C), and grease the sides and bottoms of a standard, 12-cup muffin pan (preferably with PAM cooking spray).

2. Beat together the cinnamon, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of softened butter. Drop one teaspoon of this mixture into the bottom of each greased muffin cup. Set aside the rest to use as cinnamon filling.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and two tablespoons of white sugar in a large bowl, and blend them together with a whisk or fork. Cut in the 1/4 cup of cold butter. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use two knives in a scissoring motion, or just mash the mixture around with a fork until it gets crumbly. (It’s okay if there are little chunks of butter in the mixture—this is actually the point of “cutting it in”.) Pour in the cup of cold milk and mix with a fork to form a soft dough.

4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and, making sure your hands are floured, knead the dough ten or so times before spreading it out into a foot-long rectangle (about 1/3 inch thick).

5. Spread the rest of your cinnamon-sugar filling in a thin layer, then roll the dough into a log, like a jelly roll.

Baking tip: To cut the dough into twelve equal parts (you can put markings at every inch for extra precision), whip out your dental floss! Wind a long piece of floss around your fingers and slide it underneath the roll. When you’re ready to cut, wrap the floss around the log and pull the ends in the opposite direction, until the floss cuts through the dough:

Floss cut cinnamon roll

This will leave you with twelve beautifully cut (and not pinched) cinnamon rolls! Place the pieces, cut side down, into each of the prepared muffin cups.

Bake U.S. cinnamon buns

6. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown (keep an eye on them throughout the baking process!).

7. To make your icing, add the vanilla to the confectioner’s sugar and then the milk, little by little, until you achieve your desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over your cinnamon rolls and serve them warm with your favorite winter drink (hot chocolate, tea, coffee…). Enjoy, and happy baking!

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