Holiday mornings ought to smell like toasted sugar, butter and cinnamon. With a house full of family and scads of dishes from the feasting that occurred the night before, it’s hard to consider sullying the kitchen again first thing in the morning. Plus, one of the greatest breakfast treats of all, a warm and gooey cinnamon roll takes hours of kneading, resting, rolling, and baking before anyone can enjoy them. Who wants to rise before dawn after a night topped with eggnog?
This is where Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg come in. The duo authored the series of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. According to Francois, baking fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls for a morning of sticky fingered delight takes just a bit of forethought. The evening (or afternoon) before, you dump a bunch of flour, yeast, honey, and eggs into a bucket and stir them together. After the dough rises, you simply roll it out and slather with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Roll it up. Slice off the rolls and allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, all you have to do is let the rolls come to room temperature (pull them out before making the coffee.) Bake and heartily frost the decadent little darlings. These are cinnamon rolls to feed the whole family in just a matter of minutes.
For those who have issues with gluten, François and Hertzberg have just released Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. François says that the challah recipe in that book swaps in beautifully for the glutinous brioche dough mentioned above.
This particular recipe creates enormous rolls. They call them “truck stop,” but to me, they remind me of the one and only spot for brunch in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. For holidays the family would get dressed up and head to the Sawmill Inn for brunch inside the elegant lumberjack themed room. (Yes, that’s totally a real thing). The cinnamon rolls were the most coveted treat for us kids and were the size of dinner plates, buried under a mound of frosting that looked like those pushed up against the windows outside.
Now, I can taste that memory without the mess, stress or 3 ½ hour drive north and share it with my family.
Truck Stop Cinnamon Rolls (For A Crowd)
2 1/2 pounds Brioche dough (page 300 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or see below)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Brioche dough (makes about 4 loaves)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast (1 packet)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours.
To make the rolls:
The secret to getting the right texture for the buns is to activate the gluten in the dough. Fold it over three or four times upon itself to get it all stretchy and ready.
Roll it to 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Brush the entire surface with the melted butter. In a small bowl mix together the sugars, cinnamon and zest. Spread the mixture over the butter topped dough. Use your hands to make sure you have an even coat of the sugar.
Roll the dough up, starting at the short end.
Cut the log into 8,10, or 12 equal pieces. (Cutting fewer pieces will make larger buns.)
Set the buns on a parchment lined sheet pan or in a buttered baking dish. Give them about 1 1/2 to 2-inches between them. It is okay if they rise together in the oven.
Loosely cover the buns and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning take them out and let them sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the middle of the oven
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, just until the centers are set when poked with your finger (they should be caramel colored). Let them cool for about 10 minutes.
Mix together the ingredients for the icing and spread over the warm buns. Enjoy!