March 30, 2010

behold the power of lemon

It's on. Welcome to the Battle of the Buns. The Rumble of the Rolls. The Ultimate Cinnamon Skirmish.

Hypnotic.
I've decided to take it upon myself to experiment with different cinnamon roll recipes, mixing and matching and melding and meshing until I find the one that pleases me most.

The rolls I picked as my starting point come from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and you can find the original recipe on any number of sites around the web. I was (perhaps mistakenly) impressed by the oddly specific amounts of certain ingredients--6 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, for example. Would half of a tablespoon of sugar make that much difference? Clearly Mr. Reinhart and his crew had done some thorough recipe work. Not a bad way to earn a living, eh?

A lack of cinnamon in cinnamon rolls is a crime against humanity.
Even though I hadn't tested it in its untouched form, I decided to make some changes anyway based on things I had read in various posts:

*I added half a box of instant vanilla pudding mix to the dough, as it has proven to provide mucho moistness.
*I used brown sugar, much more cinnamon, and butter in the filling. More butter is better--that's a rule, right?
*Due to a woeful lack of cream cheese, I used ol' Pete's white fondant glaze (sans lemon extract) on top.


So, what did I think about these? On the upside, the dough was a breeze to handle. However...[brace yourself for Negative Nelly]...the bready part was more cake-like than anything else (perhaps that pudding mix didn't have the desired effect), and the lemon flavor dominated. Thank heavens I didn't add lemon extract to the glaze as Mr Reinhart suggested. There was nowhere near enough cinnamon in the filling--it didn't stand a chance to be tasted against that pesky lemon. Also, the brown sugar probably wasn't as conducive to carrying that spice of all spices into the sense receptors. Finally, and most tragically, the glaze was entirely too sweet and I ended up scraping most of it off.

Just say no to fondant glaze.
I know I've made it sound like these were dreadful, but that's not true--they're a tasty treat to be sure. Further, I learned several things about the process and about the components I must include (more cinnamon!), omit (lemon!), and replace (fondant glaze!). All in all, I found them enjoyable, but I can't in good conscience call them cinnamon rolls.

Rolls of Lemon Cake with a Hint of Cinnamon
Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns

Dough:
6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 3.4-oz box instant vanilla pudding
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Filling:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare dough:
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, salt, and softened butter. Whip in the egg and lemon extract until smooth. Then add the flour, vanilla pudding mix, yeast, and milk and mix until the dough forms a ball. Plop out onto a floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to cover it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Shape rolls:
Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour. Roll it into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Slather the softened butter all over the dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar evenly over that. Roll the dough up into a log, creating a tight spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces, each about 1-3/4 inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1-1/4 inches thick for smaller buns.
Line one or more sheet pans with baking parchment or grease with cooking spray. Place the buns on the pan(s) approximately 1/2 inch apart.
Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.

Bake rolls:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Bake the buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then glaze the tops.

Prepare glaze:
Stir the ingredients together and add milk as needed to obtain desired consistency.

77 comments:

Peter M said...

THAT, my dear is food porn at its best. Sinfully good!

Chanel11 said...

Lemon is a bit of a flavour hog for sure, I always tend to add less than stated. At least they still tasted great despite not tasting like cinnamon buns

shaz said...

oooh, they look fab even if you weren't overly impressed with them. I commiserate with your pesky lemon struggle (although I usually love them). Oh, and this is the post that's tipped me over the edge - I'm baking cinnamon rolls this Easter weekend.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

OMG, those rolls look fabulous! I am drooling...

Cheers,

Rosa

Barbara said...

I don't know, Grace...they sure LOOK good! In fact, they look fabulous!
Lemon kind of overpowers perhaps. Looking forward to more experiments! I would definitely expect more cinnamon in the future!

cookies and cups said...

Hmmm, sounds likes a mixed review. They look beautiful, though and high five for even making homemade cinnamon rolls. the closest thing my family gets are Pillsbury Grands :)

Faith said...

I'm sorry they didn't turn out as expected...still, they look beautiful! The quest for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe is a fantastic idea!

Bellini Valli said...

I am of the opinion that a good many things taste better with lemon!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hmmm lemon and cinnamon, two opposing forces on your olfactory and taste receptors. And we know which you prefer! :P

Cara said...

Oh I looove lemon so I can't imagine they are that bad! The dessert I enjoyed most at last night's Passover seder was a lemon honey almond cake. Maybe I need a piece for breakfast now :)

MaryMoh said...

To me, it looks perfect. I would prefer the lemon smell than the cinnamon

~~louise~~ said...

I do believe the smell of those gorgeous beauties is emitting right through my screen.

I'm going to fill my coffee cup now. Gee I wish I had just one by my side...

Thanks for sharing, Grace...

Lisa said...

I absolutely LOVE cinnamon rolls. Enjoyed reading your experiment with the various flavors. Yummy!

dawn said...

Excellent! I am putting 5 stars on your chart because you put a good amount of frosting on there. I hate when there is nothing but a smidge.

Dolce said...

They look good enough to me!!! Thank you for this great recipe. Yum !

Lisa-Marie said...

They look delicious, and perfectly swirly! Cinnamon rolls are a favourite in our house, I shall have to make these ones!

Ingrid said...

Thanks for the info. I can't wait to read the rest of your reviews.
~ingrid

Sweeter side of life said...

The roles looked gorgeous! I wouldn't mind having one of your lemon rolls, since i love that refreshing citrus smell. You just created something new! I am sure it'll appeal to those who don't like cinnamon :D (i love cinnamon too!)

The Teacher Cooks said...

These do look absolutely divine. I have never made cinnamon rolls with the addition of the vanilla pudding. I am with you with scraping off the icing!

The Blonde Duck said...

Too sweet of glaze? If it was too sweet for you, it had to be bad.

kat said...

Wow, they look so good though! But I'm not sure I want lemon flavor in my cinnamon rolls either.

Gloria said...

Grace, absolutely beauty and tempting!! yummy! gloria

Bob said...

They sure look awesome. Can't wait to see the next round though!

Lucie said...

I think the only thing I enjoy more than cinnamon is lemon...so these look absolutely perfect to me! I'm intrigued by the addition of vanilla pudding--I've never come across a cinnamon roll recipe that used it, but it sounds like a great idea to add some moist yuminess!

oneordinaryday said...

I love that you're doing this, Grace. I haven't tried cinnamon rolls yet myself, but I have two recipes stashed away that I want to try out. Maybe now I'll just wait til you do all the leg work! ; )

Lori said...

I make one with pudding in the mix. I love them. They are more tender than the traditional ones but I like it. SO funny my husband has requested these for his birthday. Since I already make one with pudding in the mix, I will be making the Cooks Illustrated one this time. Cant wait to see your next recie here.

DessertObsessed said...

these are gorgeous! i've never tried pudding in a cinnamon roll mix before; interesting!

Melanie said...

I love your experiments. And there is nothing better than a cinnamon roll test. I'm sorry these fell a little flat. But I do think the combination of lemon and cinnamon is very intriguing. Can't wait to see what's next...

Hungry Dog said...

I'm so impressed by anyone who makes their own cinnamon rolls! These do look fabulous. I wish I could be one of your taste testers on your quest for the perfect cinnamon roll!

Bridgett said...

Decadent, truly decadent!

Baking Monster said...

This is the recipe I use, I like to add cinnamon to the glaze, and I dont add pudding.

msmeanie said...

They look great! Sorry you didn't enjoy them as much as you'd have liked. I really like Molly Wizenberg's cinnamon roll recipe. No lemon in it though.

Marjie said...

The pudding mix is what made it cake like. You are such a dear, sacrificing your own self interest to check out all possible cinnamon roll recipes for us! I'm making Hot Cross Buns this weekend by the zillions, so please, keep testing cinnamon rolls until I can get time to try some!

Half Baked said...

battle of the bun..hehe
Too bad they weren't as good as you'd hoped but they looked like they'd do just fine with my cuppa joe:)

sweetlife said...

sorry they did not turn out, but honeslty they look super yummy!! I agree add more cinnamon and omit lemon

sweetlife

lisa said...

I don't think I've met a cinnamon roll I didn't like, so I can't wait to see the rest of your battle of the buns!

Lindsey @ pickyeatings said...

I loooove homemade cinnamon buns, rolls, whatever you want to call them. So I wholeheartedly support this!

Pam said...

I think you are right. I love lemon and I love cinnamon but just not together.

That first shot has me drooling. I just adore cinnamon rolls.

Valen said...

Love cinnamon rolls or any roll really, these look fabulous!

Lynda said...

There is nothing more drool-worthy than homemade cinnamon rolls, and your photos are certainly enticing Grace.Too bad that these fell somewhat short, but I'm anxious to see what you try next! Can't have too much cinnamon-I always end up adding more than a recipe calls for!

Julie said...

well, they look super anyway! It does seem a little odd to add lemon to a cinnamon roll. If you're going to continue trying different recipes, try PW's if you haven't already. I can't tell you how awesome they are!

ovenhaven said...

Love the re-name of these rolls! It's a pity they weren't exactly what you were looking for, but I know for a fact that you've got all of us drooling at those pics :P

Emily said...

Well, I love and appreciate your honesty. I think maybe you're being too hard on yourself! These buns look amazing. I think a cakey cinnamon roll sounds really good.

Joanne said...

I really can't think of a better battle to have in your kitchen. The more cinnamon roll taste-testing in your life, the better. I'm pretty sure. Because if even they're not great? They're still pretty good.

Thanks for sharing these even though you didn't love them! I can't wait until you create the ultimate roll (stuffed with TONS of cinnamon) because that one - I will be making.

Erica said...

They look so good!Love to read about this experiment.

LyB said...

I love that you renamed the recipe! And I can't wait for your next experiment. Bring on the rolls!!! ;)

5 Star Foodie said...

I like your experiments and sure learn a lot! These may not be true cinnamon rolls, but they sure look and sound like wonderful treats!

elra said...

What a perfect treats Grace. Always love the cinnamon and sugar perfumed the kitchen while baked in the oven.

kimberleyblue said...

Haha, I love their name - but too bad they didn't become your new favourite cinnamon roll recipe. The photos look just stunning though, so hey, at least there's that!

WizzyTheStick said...

It's fun to experiment and tweak recipes to your specific taste. I do it all the time

www.dhaleb.com said...

I'm drooling as we speak... I hope my keyboard is waterproof.

I love the addition of instant vanilla pudding! Send some my way pleeease!

Heather said...

Oh my!! I know these weren't your favorite, but they look delicious!

Dinners and Dreams said...

Gorgeous cinnamon buns. I've never had them homemade.

Have a great evening!

Nisrine

LilSis said...

They sure look moist and delicious from the photos, so even if you can't call them cinnamon rolls, I'd still guess that they were yummy!

foodhoe said...

looks delicious, I can just imagine peeling away the layers...

Krissy @ The Food Addicts said...

wow, your cinnamon rolls look perfect... literally more perfect than the ones at cinnabon! yum yum!

Carolyn Jung said...

Too-sweet glaze? Oh no, that's the worst. That's why I can't eat so many of those supersized, mass-produced cinnamon buns. They're just too achingly sweet.

Zoe said...

drool!

Sandie {Inn Cuisine} said...

You crack me up, "Battle of the Buns, Rumble of the Rolls." Too funny! Love your tips & thoughts for next time though. Always something, isn't it?

Have a good Easter weekend, Grace.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Love your honest take on these goodies. I too would err on the side of cinnamon beats lemon any day! Nice addition of pudding to batter. Glaze was too sweet? Is that possible :) xo

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

You just made me very hungry!

Lisa said...

They look wonderful! It would be hard to go too wrong with cinnamon rolls....

Trissa said...

I like your honesty. I find the best recipes are those "re-tested" by bloggers. Thanks for sharing!
Happy Easter!

Xiao Yen Recipes said...

I love cinnamon buns! Gosh the picture looks so yummy! I used to buy from the store the refrigerated ones but of course, once I learn to make them fresh, there's no turning back.

M D said...

Lemon Cake with Cinnamon? This is new to me. Pretty sure it would make justice for the Easter approaching. Happy Easter to u and ur family!

jesse said...

I need one of those rolls pronto!

Penny said...

I am anxious to see what you try next! They look beautiful.

Sophie said...

Waw,...Grace!! What an entrance to eat & make for easter!! Ooh yes,....!!!!!!!!

These rolls look so delectable & grand!! I love your touch of cinnamon!!!

Kerstin said...

Doesn't matter what you call them - they look incredible!! I love that you added instant pudding too - that sounds like a great little trick to add moistness!

MrsLavendula said...

that roll looks so moist and delicious!

Jessica Lee Binder said...

The first picture is a perfectly even swirl. Having made similar buns before, I know that's not easy!

Foodycat said...

More lemon than is feasible sounds just about perfect to me! But it is a pity to miss out on cream cheese frosting.

Robin Sue said...

Hmm not sure about the lemon either? Although I did see a nice lemon roll on the kitchn in place of cinnamon rolls- just for a change. Looked completely different.

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/breakfast/recipe-sticky-lemon-rolls-with-lemon-cream-cheese-glaze-111307

Kristen Doyle said...

Your photos look fabulous. And I will have to remember the instant pudding trick!

Chef Fresco said...

Man we are so behind on commenting - look at all the wonderful posts you have! These cinnamon buns look soo good -especially in that pic with the icing!

Danielle said...

Ive made cinnamon rolls once and the recipe called for that pudding mix. I still found the roll to be...I dunno, not so moist? Maybe it's over rated? Or maybe I messed up? but yes...more cinnamon is always a plus

Karen B in northern Idaho said...

Not that I've tested many sweet roll recipes, but my fave recipe so far is King Arthur Flour's Ridiculously Easy No-Knead Sticky Buns http://search.kingarthurflour.com/search?w=ridiculously%20easy%20no-knead%20sticky%20buns&af=type:recipes
I make 12-18 "bake and give" paper baking pans of these to give away to special lucky recipients at Christmas (frozen, along with thawing and baking instructions), and have people begging me for them the rest of the year. You could make them as simpler cinnamon buns by leaving off the topping, of course, and adding a cream cheese frosting later. If you can afford it, do use the KAF Cinnamon Filling, it is to die for. This year I had gobs of separated eggs in the freezer, so I made the dough even richer, like a brioche dough, by adding MORE butter and using two egg yolks to replace every egg called for, plus a few more!