Cinnamon rolls inspire love

Author cranks out cookbook filled with variations on delectably gooey treat in 60 days

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CINNAMON ROLLS, SIMPLIFIED

Everyone loves the sweet breakfast pastry, but not everyone is willing to put in the time it takes to whip up a batch from scratch. These tips from “I Love Cinnamon Rolls” author Judith Fertig save time and headaches.

Skip the proofing step by using instant (or bread machine) yeast instead of active dry yeast.

Stock up on boxes of hot roll mix, which contain flour, dry milk, salt and instant yeast, then follow Fertig’s recipe for Easy Cinnamon Roll Dough to have rolls ready in about two hours.

Invest in a Danish dough whisk. The stickiest dough won’t get stuck in this $10 tool, which has two stiff metal loops.

Use a serrated knife to cut cylinders of dough into rolls without smashing their round shape.

Mix dough the night before, let it rise, then store it in the fridge until morning. “The cold makes yeast go into hibernation,” Fertig explains.

Bake and cool a batch of Classic Cinnamon Rolls (recipe on Page D6), then stash them in the freezer. Next time you want cinnamon rolls, warm them in the oven and apply your favorite icing.

—The Kansas City Star

In the fall of 2011, local cookbook author Judith Fertig took on an ambitious assignment: Write a book of cinnamon roll recipes in 60 days.

Fertig loves cinnamon rolls, and she's authored more than 20 cookbooks on everything from bread to barbecue. Still, this was no easy task.

The expert baker holed up in her Overland Park, Kan., kitchen with colossal amounts of flour, butter, and sugar. She gathered four kinds of cinnamon and started rolling it into swirls of every shape and size. Her overworked oven churned out all kinds of crave-worthy creations: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls with Pineapple-Cream Cheese Frosting. Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls spiked with ancho chile. Moroccan-inspired crescents filled with black pepper and rose petals.

Fertig would taste each one, then hand out leftovers to neighbors, friends and family members. "I was very popular for a while," she says.

At the end of those two months, Fertig had lots of new friends and another cookbook: "I Love Cinnamon Rolls!" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012).

The book has everything from traditional sticky buns to gluten-free rolls. The recipes are customizable, so you can easily change out the dough, filling, pan sauce or topping.

"I'm a mix-and-match person," Fertig says.

Fertig says she wanted the recipes to be flexible because everyone has his or her own version of the perfect cinnamon roll.

In the Midwest, she says, we like our cinnamon rolls soft and feathery, with lots of gooey frosting on top. On the East Coast, people prefer sticky buns. In Colorado, it's not a cinnamon roll unless it's as big as a plate, and in the Northwest, vegan rolls are all the rage.

Don't even get Fertig started on all the different kinds of rolls Europeans like.

As for the cookbook author, she's a native Midwesterner, so it's no surprise she likes cinnamon rolls that are soft and gooey, filled with lots of mouth-watering brown sugar and warm cinnamon.

"If you're going to have a cinnamon roll," Fertig says, "have a cinnamon roll."

Traditional Cinnamon Roll Dough

Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16-20 medium Rolls, or 48 minirolls

This easy dough, which bakes up all soft and feathery, can be kneaded with a mixer or by hand. “Source: “I Love Cinnamon Rolls!”

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting

2½ teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast

In a 4-cup measuring cup, combine the milk, butter, sugar and salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until warm (Careful: Exceed 130 F, and you’ll kill the yeast). Whisk in the eggs.

Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the liquid ingredients. Mix on low, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the dough forms a soft mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the paddle and switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, knead the dough with the dough hook. Sprinkle the dough with a tablespoon of flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl. When the dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you’ve kneaded it enough (4 to 6 minutes). Place the dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place (about 85 F) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it has almost doubled.

Per serving (based on 12): 209 calories (25% from fat), 6 g total fat (3 gs saturated), 49 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 200 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.

Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 large rolls

For a twist, Fertig swapped the usual cream cheese frosting for an icing flavored with coffee and maple syrup. Source: “I Love Cinnamon Rolls!”

1 recipe Traditional Cinnamon Roll Dough

Flour for dusting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided and softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2½ tablespoons cinnamon

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee

½ tablespoon maple syrup

For the pan sauce, spread 4 tablespoons of the butter into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll out to a 16-by-20-inch rectangle.

For the filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the dough with 4 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Starting with the shorter side, roll up the dough to form a tight 16-inch cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 12 rolls. Place in the prepared pan, spiral side up. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

For the glaze, whisk the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl. Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Per roll: 439 calories (29 percent from fat), 14 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 73 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 221 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 48 minirolls

Swedes like their cinnamon rolls spicy, Fertig says. These cute, compact sweets get their kick from cardamom and taste great with coffee. Source: “I Love Cinnamon Rolls!”

1 recipe Traditional Cinnamon Roll Dough

Flour for dusting

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large egg yolks, beaten with 2 teaspoons water

¾ cup coarsely crushed sugar cubes

Line 48 muffin cups with cupcake liners

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Cut into fourths. Roll each fourth out to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle.

For the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl. Brush a fourth of the butter over the dough and sprinkle with a fourth of the spice mixture.

Roll up the dough and form it into a tight 12-inch-long cylinder. Cut each cylinder into 12 slices. Place each slice, spiral side up, in a paper-lined muffin cup. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the pans with a tea towel and rest in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Per roll: 439 calories (29% from fat), 14 g total fat (9 g saturated), 72 mg cholesterol, 73 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 221 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber.

Vegan Cinnamon Roll Dough

Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16-20 medium ROLLS, or 48 minirolls

This recipe makes an incredibly soft, flaky dough that you’d never guess was made without real eggs or butter. Source: “I Love Cinnamon Rolls!”

¼ cup water

¾ cup soy, rice or almond milk, preferably vanilla flavored

½ cup granulated sugar or date sugar

4 tablespoons vegan buttery-flavored sticks, such as Earth Balance, softened

1½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon powdered egg substitute, such as Ener-g Egg Replacer

3⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

2½ teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast

In a 4-cup measuring cup, combine the water, soy milk, sugar, vegan buttery-flavored sticks and salt. Microwave on high for 1½ minutes or until warm. Whisk in the egg substitute.

Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the liquid ingredients. Mix on low, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the dough forms a soft mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the paddle and switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, knead the dough with the dough hook. Sprinkle the dough with a tablespoon of flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl. When the dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you’ve kneaded enough (3 to 5 minutes). Place the dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (about 85 F) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Proceed with a cinnamon roll recipe.

Per serving (based on 12): 205 calories (22% from fat), 5 g total fat (3 g saturated), no cholesterol, 35 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 271 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.