23 August 2012

Brown Sugar and Spice Cinnamon Rolls

I usually don't make complicated desserts.  I decided to make an exception and make cinnamon rolls this week.  They are made from a yeast dough, which does take some time and precision.  Really these don't take all that much more hands-on time than any of my other desserts and they are totally worth the effort.  Just make 'em on a day when you are lazing around the house and can go in the kitchen a few times over the course of a couple of hours.

half eaten cinnamon roll
One of my aunts passed away last week.  She had been sick for a quite a while, so it was not unexpected.  She always said that I was my mom's birthday present to her because I was born four days after her birthday.  We had a special bond because of that.  She had a sweet spirit but just enough spice to make her interesting.  She was the inspiration for these cinnamon rolls.  They are a brown sugar dough and filling with some cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice thrown in, so the dough is sweet but has a little twist with those extra spices.  The glaze is maple flavored.  I think these rolls are also an indication that I am too ready for fall to get here, since all these flavors are what come to mind when I think of fall-time desserts.

Until recently yeast was not my friend.  No matter how hard I tried I could not get it to cooperate with me and my yeast dough would end up flat and tough, rather than rich and fluffy.  I went on a self-imposed yeast sabbatical for a couple of years.  Two months ago I decided to try again, and, wouldn't you know it, yeast is my friend now.  I picked up a couple of nifty tricks, which I am including in the recipe for these cinnamon rolls.  Hopefully, they will insure that yeast is your friend, too.

Brown Sugar and Spice Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12-15 rolls
for the dough:
3/4 cup milk 
3 Tbsp butter
dough rolled out and topping smeared all over
3 1/4 c all purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) fast rising yeast
2 large eggs

for the filling:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

for the glaze:
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp half and half

To make the dough, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the milk and 3 Tbsp butter.  Heat, stirring until the butter is melted.  Using a thermometer, make sure the mixture is between 120 and 125° F.  If the mixture gets too hot, let it sit at room temperature until it cools to the proper temperature.

Fit a mixer with the dough hook.  On low speed, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and yeast until well combined.  Add the milk mixture and once it is incorporated a little, increase the mixer to medium speed.  Beat on medium until well blended. Add the eggs and beat until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup flour and beat until well incorporated, about 1 more minute.  The dough will be sticky, but your finger will come out clean if you poke the dough with it.

dough rolled up and ready to slice
Leave the dough in the bowl for your mixer, cover it with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.  If you don't have a nice warm place for your dough to rise you can set your oven to preheat at its lowest temperature (I set mine to 200°.)  Let the oven warm up for 2 or 3 minutes, or until it is just a little warm, then turn it off.  Put your dough in your slightly warm oven to rise. 

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.  Combine the butter, brown sugars, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.  This will make a very thick paste. 

sliced rolls -- they don't look that neat, but
they improve greatly with a 2nd rising and baking
Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a well floured surface.  Roll or press out your dough into a rectangle, approximately 12 x15".  The rectangle is about the size your dough will easily press out into without tearing or working it too hard.  Once the dough is spread out, spread the filling onto the dough in a very thin, even layer.  Sprinkle the pecan over the top of the filling.  Roll up the dough in a tight spiral without squeezing the dough.  

Lightly butter a 9x13x2" baking dish.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into slices about 1" thick.   Place the rolls into the prepared baking dish, leaving some space between each roll.  Once all the rolls are in the pan, cover it loosely with a dish towel and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven if you used it as your rising place; preheat to 350°.  Bake the rolls for 25-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes before icing.

For the frosting, combine the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and half and half until it makes a thick, smooth paste.  The frosting should be thick enough the spread.  If it is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.  Serve immediately warm or at room temperature.


  1. Drat this diet. I could have eaten several of these. They are wonderful. Great with milk or coffee!! A keeper recipe.

  2. Those look yummy, not to mention some of my favorite flavors (maple and pecan.) Looks like I might be baking on Sunday!

  3. looks simply delicious,now where is the sampler plate

  4. I wish I lived next door to you so I could at least smell whatever you are baking!



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