I recently read the blog post by a woman who made the infamous Mario Batali cinnamon rolls– the ones he, in an astoundingly misguided moment, linked at the bottom of a pseudo-apology for his sexual misconduct in the workplace.
I clicked through with more than a little morbid curiosity, only to find that the recipe itself is just as lacking in substance as Batali’s letter.
We deserve so much more.
Yes, of course, we deserve to work without having to navigate the sexual politics of harassment. But we also deserve a good cinnamon roll recipe, one that isn’t served up as an ill-chosen postscript. And one that doesn’t use pizza dough, ffs. It’s just not a good plan for a cinnamon roll.
So if you prefer your cinnamon rolls pillowy soft, gooey, delicious, easy, and free from unsavory associations, these are the ones to make.
Just a warning: these are not for the faint of heart. They’re intensely decadent and sweet, for people who want a drippy, buttery, sugary breakfast dessert. If you like them tamer, cut the sugar in half and use a lighter hand with the frosting.
You will need:
- one loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
- 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
- 3 T cinnamon
- 1 C brown sugar
- 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
- 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 1 t vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 2 T water or milk
- Optional: 1 t rum
Thaw your bread dough out (check the instructions on your package) in a well-greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap. (You can make your own dough, of course, if you have way more time on your hands than I do.) It will triple or quadruple in size.
When it’s risen, flour your surface and turn the dough out onto it. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 12″ x 18″, if you can.
Melt your butter in the microwave, then pour about 3/4 of it onto the dough rectangle and spread it around with your fingers. Sprinkle the cinnamon and then the brown sugar evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1″ gap at the top (to seal the roll). I forgot the gap, so my rolls didn’t stay as tight as they could.
Brush the 1″ gap of exposed dough at the top with milk or water or leftover butter, then roll the dough up, starting at the bottom. You don’t need to roll these super tight or super loose– just snugly.
When you’ve got yourself a log, go grab your dental floss. No, not for flossing your teeth– although, when’s the last time you did that? Maybe you should do that first. Then wash your hands and spool out about a foot of floss. You can use this to cut your cinnamon rolls without squashing them.
Cut your log into 12 equal pieces. I wasn’t paying attention, and did 8 rolls instead, so mine are a bit taller.
Pour the rest of your butter into your pan to cover the bottom. (I used two pans because I wanted to freeze one of them). Set the rolls, swirl side up and down, into your pan, evenly spacing them. Spray the tops with cooking spray, then cover with plastic wrap.
You can either let them rise now (about an hour) OR freeze them OR put them in the fridge overnight and finish the rise in the morning (about 45 minutes). If you freeze them, cover them with foil and just put them in the fridge the night before you want to make them and proceed the next morning. They need to be about twice the size they are now when they’re ready to bake.
Set your oven to 350F, take off the plastic wrap, and pop them in the oven! They’ll be ready in about 20-25 minutes, so you can make the frosting right away if you like. Beat all the frosting ingredients together, adding a touch of milk or water if it’s too thick.
When your cinnamon rolls are nicely brown on top and feel hollow when you tap them, bring them out of the oven. Dump the frosting on top of them right away. The warmth will melt the frosting into all of the gaps. You can even spoon some of the cinnamon-y frosting from the bottom of the pan onto them, if you really want to go over the top.
Serve them warm, gooey, and dripping— and remember not to accept anything less than what you deserve.