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Old 12-10-2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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Cinnamon Rolls: Detail help with technique, etc.

My first post and I hope to get some folk interested in a detail analysis of a cinnamon roll recipe I use so that I can learn ways to improve the already good results and get a good lesson in baking technique along the way. I bake a couple hundred of these rolls each year, mostly in December since I traditionally give them as gifts. I've just started this year's "cycle" and it's a great time to experiment a little. So....

I envision this will eventually be a long thread since I have so many questions on technique and what happens when ingredients or proportions are changed. After describing the recipe and technique I use I'll ask the first set of questions.

The recipe for the dough is:

1 1/2 C milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 C vegetable oil, 1/2 C granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 C water, 2 pkg dry active yeast, and about 7 C all-purpose flour. I usually add a tsp of vanilla and/or a tsp almond extract. The filling is 1 C granulated sugar, 1 1/2 C packed light brown sugar, 3 T ground cinnamon, and 6 oz butter. In addition, there is a pinch of sugar to help proof the yeast, 2 T vegetable oil, and 2 T brown sugar put in the bottom of the pans for the bottoms of the rolls. I also use a Tb of vegetable oil to cover the surface of the dough when rising.

The technique: (all degrees are F)

Scald the milk to 180 degrees and let cool to 120 degrees

While the milk cools I mix (using the mixing paddle) the eggs, vegetable oil, 1/2 C sugar, salt, and almond and/or vanilla extract in an electric mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid) just enough to break the yokes and mix all the ingredients.

It takes about 12 minutes for the milk to cool and with 4 minutes left I proof the yeast. I proof two pkgs of dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp) in 1/2 C of 117 degree tap water. (Our tap water peaks at about 117 degrees and is of good quality). After 4 minutes the yeast will have proofed and the milk cooled.

At that point I start the mixer and add the milk and yeast.

I add gradually add about 4 C of the flour, letting things mix completely. I then stop the mixer and replace the paddle with a dough hook. I start the mixer again and slowly add flour 1/2 C at a time looking for a point just before where the dough would climb up the dough hook. (*This will be the step where I'll have my first question below*).

I then let the dough knead slowly for 12 minutes, adding small amounts of flour if it looks like it can take more (without riding up on the dough hook).

While the dough is kneading I mix 1 C granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. I also start melting the butter. I prepare the pans by putting 1 Tb vegetable oil and 1 Tb melted butter in each pan and brush it around the bottom and sides. I sprinkle the bottom of each pan with 1 T brown sugar and then set the pans aside.

When the kneading is done, I then scrap the dough onto a wooden cutting board floured with 1/2 C. I hand knead the dough for 30 seconds or so adding flour if the surface is too sticky.

I use a large plastic bowl for rising. I add about a Tb vegetable oil to the bowl, transfer the dough to the bowl, rub the dough ball briefly around the bowl to coat it with a little of the oil, flip the dough ball over, and then cover the bowl with a slightly dampened kitchen towel.

I turn the oven on for 1 minute and then turn it off, and it's in the oven I let the dough rise for 1 hour.

I then turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured cutting board, divide the dough in half, and shape half of the dough by hand into roughly a rectangle. I lightly roll the dough to get it to about 12-inches by 16-inches.

I brush the surface with melted butter, and sprinkle half of the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixture evenly over the top. I then roll the dough along it's long side, cut into 8 rolls, and transfer the rolls to a 7-inch by 10-inch baking pan arranging them 2, then 1, then 2, then 1, then 2. I cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator overnight and the process is repeated for the other half of the dough.

When ready to bake I let the pans sit a room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The convection oven is set to 350 degrees and I loosen the foil on the pans but don't remove it. I bake the rolls for 18 minutes, remove the foil, and continue baking another 12 minutes.

The rolls are then turned out onto wax paper and allowed to cool, when they are wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen (assuming we don't eat them right then.)

So, that’s the basic recipe and technique. Now to the questions starting with using the mixer to knead the dough.

As I mentioned I've found that if I add too much flour during the kneading process the dough can cling to the dough hook and pull away from the side of the bowl. At that point it looks like it will just spin around and no real kneading is done. So I try to find a point just before where that would occur, but that may not be the best mixture for the ultimate dough.

When using a dough hook to save effort, am I right that adding too much flour can defeat the purpose? And, since the dough may need more flour that I can add during the kneading process, is it important to adjust the flour content after the machine is done? Do dough hooks (for this kind of dough) work best if the mixture is a bit wet?

If the tread draws the attention of some experienced bakers I'll ask other questions later.

Sorry for the length, but I wanted to get the complete recipe, including technique, described first.



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Old 12-10-2006, 12:02 PM   #2
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Welcome to DC, Livingstion.

Having the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl and climb the dough hook isn't a bad thing. If you use a faster speed, the dough will slap against the sides of the bowl and continue kneading on the mixer. I knead doughs at speed 4 on my KA. Also, coating the top of the dough hook with some veg. oil before using it will help keep the dough from climbing.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 12-10-2006, 02:18 PM   #3
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I agree with Andy. Most times I take the dough out (when it is just past the sticky state) and hand knead with some added flour for about 10 to 15 minutes. I like the results I get this way; just made 10 dozen each of cinnamon and cocoa rolls last week.
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Old 12-10-2006, 03:20 PM   #4
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This recipe for cinnamon rolls was posted by one of our very dear long-time posters, Audeo; I can't find the post, but had cut and pasted the recipe, and it's become a standard in our family - it is hands down the BEST recipe for CR I have ever made!

Cinnamon Roll Dough

2 tablespoons yeast (I use Saf-Instant)
1 cup warm water (115-degrees F.)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs slightly beaten
6 cups all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix milk, remaining sugar, butter, salt and eggs. Stir well. Add yeast mixture to bowl and 3 cups of the flour; beat until smooth. Add additional flour until dough is stiff. Knead dough on well-floured board for 10 minutes. Place dough in bowl and cover. Set in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough and let it rest for 5 minutes. Roll dough on a floured surface to a 15-by-20-inch rectangle. (Don't use too much flour or the dough will get stiff.)

Add filling to top of dough to within 1/2 inch of all sides, then roll up and cut evenly into rolls. Place into a well-buttered 9x12-inch baking pan and allow to rise until doubled. Brush tops gently with butter, then bake in a preheated 3500-degree (F) oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden.

I like just cinnamon in my rolls, so my filling is:

1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup
2 tablespoons butter
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Old 12-10-2006, 03:49 PM   #5
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Both of those sound sooooo good, I have never tried making them, never had good luck w/bread recipes (yeast). Will have to try again some day -thanks to the both of you !
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Old 12-10-2006, 03:51 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice on the dough hook and the welcome to DC. I will oil the hook and increase the speed. Good improvement and I'll try it on the batch I'm starting this afternoon. And thanks for the recipe post. Although I'm very pleased with my recipe this will help me see differences.

Before moving on the the "chemistry" of the dough, I'd like to ask about the pans I use. Does the depth of the pan make much of a difference, particularly when it comes to the height that the rolls get to? Mine are 1 1/2-inch deep (internal measure). Recently I noticed that a bakery we visited had their rolls in cake pans that were probably approaching 3-inches deep.

Now to start on the composition of the dough. Am I correct in assuming that the basic target ratio is between wet and dry ingredients, particularly the flour? If that's correct, and holding the basic ratio I'm using, I want to get some understanding about the wet ingredients first.

In the recipe I use the wet is 2 eggs, 1/2 C water, 1/2 C oil, and 1 1/2 C milk. First, what is the specific contribution each ingredient makes to the final product? In other words, what do the eggs do and what would be the effect of increasing or decreasing the number on the wet side? Same question for the water, oil, and milk. As an example, if I were to increase the eggs to 3 and reduced (say) the milk by the same volume, what would happen?

The water is used to proof the yeast and I assume it doesn't make sense to use some other liquid (like milk) to do that. But if I increased the water and reduced the milk what would be the result?

The recipe (which came from my mother who was a very good cook) mentions that the oil could be replaced by 1/2 C of shortening and butter mixed. What would that do to the results?

Finally (or this post) the recipe calls for the milk to be scalded and I do that by heating the milk (180 degrees) and then letting it cool (to about 120 degrees). Does this do anything important or is it a leftover from when milk was different some years ago? Does the fat content of the milk matter and, if so, in what way. (I tend to use 1 % simply because that's what I drink.) Is it like using unsalted butter, meaning that you have more control over the salt content in a recipe that way?

Thanks again for the help. My intent is to drive the thread in a way that it leads me (and hopefully others) to a good, core understanding of this type of baking and, of course, even better CRs.

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Old 12-10-2006, 04:01 PM   #7
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Barb, I have made this recipe a lot!!! Had some rough results early on but have it pretty much down pat now. I know this is an overused phrase, but I really do get great feedback from those who get them and I like them too. This is one of the few recipes I made a point to get from my mom before she passed away.

Also, looks like Marmalady's is similar.

I have my technique down to a repetitive ritual (given all the practice). When I get through with all the questions I have for the thread, I'll post the final as an attachment with all the details on how to do it with a high chance of success.

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Old 12-10-2006, 07:23 PM   #8
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I'm moving this to the Bread section where those who make bread will be able to weigh in with their valued advice.
You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams
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Old 12-10-2006, 08:04 PM   #9
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I made a batch of the CR this afternoon and made the adjustment to technique that was suggested regarding the dough rising up on the dough hook. Oiling the hook didn't seem to do much but raising the speed to 4 on the KA certainly made a difference.

How do you keep the KA from dancing around the counter? It gets pretty lively.

The results, however, we're very good. I seemed to get a better rise. Does a better kneading help make dough rise better or was there some other factor that did that?

I did make two other adjustments (one by accident). In the other CR recipe that was posted, which used about the same amount of flour, called for 2 T of yeast (I've been using a little bit less than that). So I used a full 2 T this time. Also, my habit is to run the oven for 1 minute and then shut it off, and then place the covered dough in the oven to rise. I didn't keep a good eye on the time and the oven was on for 1 3/4 minutes thus the oven was slightly hotter.

I got about 50% more risen volume.

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Old 12-11-2006, 04:03 AM   #10
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To keep your KA from 'dancing', place it on either a placemat with a rubberized backing, or get some of that rubbery shelf liner that has a raised knobby texture. Or - in a pinch, a damp towel under the KA should do the trick.

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