I'm wrapping up my 25 days of Christmas with the cinnamon rolls I prepared for yesterday's Christmas breakfast. We had both Christmas breakfast and dinner in an attempt to accommodate numerous family members with their varied holiday plans! We didn't want to miss out on sharing special moments with anyone, so both our breakfast and dinner menus were curated to highlight family specialty dishes and also new dishes and desserts that we had never made before. I think that's how I approach life--a blend of the familiar and comforting with the riskier new and adventurous.
Day 25: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Louisiana Pecans and Cream Cheese Icing
Difficulty: Impressive Challenge
These cinnamon rolls are a challenge because they involve making bread from scratch. It is actually more difficult than making typical yeast dinner rolls. Instead of cutting out the rolls, you sprinkle the dough with butter, spices, sugar and pecans, then roll it up and cut it into rounds before letting the cinnamon rolls rise for a second time. Also, there is an additional step because you have to prepare the icing and ice the cinnamon rolls.
But, this dish is certainly worth the extra steps and challenge. Like, seriously. We had several other things on our breakfast menu--cheese souffle a la Julia Childe, fresh strawberries and oranges, and a grits and sausage casserole, but I found myself munching on these addictive cinnamon rolls throughout the day. In fact, I ate so many of them that I was hardly hungry by the time we finally sat down for Christmas dinner.
I mixed a few different recipes, including my Great-Great Aunt Hester's yeast rolls recipes, but I'm sharing a superb recipe with you in case you want to try it (which you totally should!)
- 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup very soft butter
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- FOR CREAM CHEESE ICING
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine first 3 ingredients in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
- Beat 1/2 cup softened butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. salt, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and next 2 ingredients, beating until blended. Stir in yeast mixture.
- Combine 4 1/2 cups bread flour and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 cup bread flour onto a flat surface; turn dough out, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes), adding up to 1/4 cup bread flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands and surface. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
- Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread with 1/2 cup very soft butter, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and sprinkle sugar mixture over butter.
- Top with pecans. Roll up dough, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side; cut into 16 slices (about 1 inch thick).
- Place rolls, cut sides down, in 2 lightly greased 10-inch round pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Bake at 350° for 20 to 22 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Brush rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. Serve immediately.
- FOR CREAM CHEESE ICING
- Mix softened cream cheese with powdered sugar with a mixer until thoroughly combined. Add one teaspoon vanilla and continue to mix. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag, or use a spatula to spread over the cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!