I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bread mystifies me. Something always goes wrong, whether it’s the rising or the rolling or the texture, it has taken me years to perfect. Today however, my friends, I have done it. It all started when I came across this recipe from the blog Call Me Cupcake, where cinnamon rolls got the ultimate upgrade with almond paste and ALSO vanilla pastry cream. As if cinnamon rolls weren’t incredible enough, they have now become the most decadent treat that goes beyond your morning pastry and coffee.
This is the perfect baking project for a Saturday morning, because keep in mind that it takes a super long time from start to finish. But I always love taking on big projects on an otherwise slow day; I get to make a cup of tea, set up some Netflix, and get into the baking zone! I realize that at this point it’s Tuesday which may feel like a bit of a bummer, but now you have something to look forward to for the weekend to come! This recipe works in steps, with rising time in between them, so it gives you some free time for making the filling and the pastry cream, plus some time to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of coffee and an episode of The Office. I don’t know about you but this sounds like my dream Saturday morning.
So, wherever you are on this Tuesday, hang in there a little longer and dream of these fancy rolls to come. Love, D.
Makes: 10-12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2.5 hrs
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~3.5 hours
1 package (¼ oz.) dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
5 tbs salted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Scant ½ tsp ground cardamom
2¾ to 3 cups all purpose flour
1. Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large glass bowl). Heat the milk in a small saucepan to approximately 98ºF (be careful not to overheat because it will kill the yeast!), and add to the stand mixer and mix to combine.
2. Add butter, sugar, cardamom, and the first 2¾ cups of flour, and mix with the dough hook attachment or with your hands. At this point you can add the rest of the flour if your dough is too sticky, I myself used the full three cups but it may vary! Knead this dough with your mixer for about 15 minutes (20 by hand), until it has become soft and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place, like under kitchen lights or in an off oven, for between 60 and 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, you can make the custard and almond fillings.
1/3 cup + 1½ tbs heavy cream
3 tbs milk
½ vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 large egg yolk
1½ tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
1. Add the milk and the cream to a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Scrape the seeds out of the half of the vanilla bean and add the seeds plus the scraped bean into the milk mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming and hot, but not boiling.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture is light yellow. Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture first, whisking constantly to temper without cooking the eggs. You can then add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking until fully combined. Remove and discard the vanilla bean at this point.
3. Return this mixture to the saucepan and turn the stove on to low heat. Stir this mixture constantly until it becomes thick, but do not let it boil!
4. Pour this mixture into a small bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface as it cools, to prevent a skin forming. Set aside. I know this looks like a small amount of custard, but I promise it will be enough, only a little goes into each bun anyway!
Almond- Cinnamon Filling
1/3 cup almond paste
4 tbs softened butter
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs water (if needed)
1 tbs brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond paste, softened butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Mix to combine. If the mixture looks dry or difficult to spread, add water here until it can be spread over rolled out dough. Set aside.
Additional Assembly Ingredients
1 egg, beaten
Demerara or Pearl sugar, for sprinkling
1. Roll your dough out into a 10 in. x 20 in. rectangle. Spread an even, thin layer of your almond filling over the whole thing. Roll the dough tightly from one long side to the other, so that you end up with a roughly 20 inch long roll.
2. Cut this roll into 10-12 slices, and place in your desired baking dish, lined with parchment paper or generously greased with butter. Today, I used a large cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper. At this point, cover the baking dish with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes or so, until the buns have grown in size.
3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (I realize this is a random temperature, but the recipe was adapted from celsius so this was the best match!).
4. Poke a hole in the center of each bun using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon, and pipe a blob of custard into each one.
5. Brush the top of each roll with the beaten egg, being careful to avoid the custard, and sprinkle each with some sugar.
6. Bake the rolls on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to check often because they brown quickly, and if they look like they’re browning too much before the cooking is done, cover the tops with aluminum foil to keep from burning.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool fully before reheating to eat. Best with a fresh cup of coffee!