These rolls are sweet, tender, light as air, and richly autumnal; with plenty of spice and a hint of earthiness from the roasted sweet potato. Wrapped up inside is a sticky sweet filling that’s dripping in cinnamon and bursting with toasted pecans. Then a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing goes on top.
By Tux Loerzel
I’ve always been a little bit intimidated by yeast doughs.
When I was a teenager I was a very adventurous cook and baker (especially for a teenager) and loved to experiment with new recipes. Most of the time things worked out in my favor, but every once in a while, they didn’t. Once my cousin came over to stay the night and we decided it might be fun to try to make some white sandwich bread. The resulting loaf though, was a total mess. It was dense, heavy, tough, and dry, and while it had definitely risen to an extent, a tap of the loaf was met with a dull thud rather than that nice hollow sound you expect from quality bread.
Everyone in my family thought of me as an excellent cook for my age, and my cousin was obsessed with my omelettes, begging me to make them for her whenever she stayed over. When we baked this loaf together I think she assumed my touch would turn our dough to gold, so when the bread didn’t live up to her expectations the disappointment was palpable.
One bite, and I could see it in her eyes.
It was at least another decade before I tried to bake a loaf of bread again.
In my mid twenties, a year or so after I moved to Brooklyn, I decided I was going to start making my own sourdough. It’d had been ten + years since the last time I’d tried to make bread, and instead of trying to perfect a traditional white loaf raised with active dry yeast, I thought, “Oh! The last time I baked bread it was a minor disaster, so I should definitely try to make a bread so hard to master that there are entire online forums on the subject.” Sometimes I can’t even handle what a genius I am.
I mixed up my little cup of flour and water, set it near my kitchen window, and waited for a little community of wild yeast to set up camp and start birfin’ some babies. To my surprise and elation, on the first try, my starter took and was bubbling away after a few feedings.
And then I made my loaf.
It barely rose at all. Dense. Heavy. Tough. Dry. Dull Thud.
History repeating itself.
I tried a few more times, thinking my starter just wasn’t strong or mature enough, but never had any results that were worth eating and I decided my attempts were little more than a waste of time and wheat.
Still, not all yeast doughs intimidate me. I make a pretty decent pizza dough, and a few years ago I made some really great English muffins that I’ve been thinking about trying again soon. When it comes to actual loaves of bread though, I’ve accepted that they just might not be my thing. I might eventually go back to the basics and try some white bread again sometime, but for now I’m not all that worried about trying to perfect my bread game.
I decided recently that it might be fun to try to branch out and try some other types of yeasted doughs. A few months ago I made a roasted cherry kugelhopf with great results, and the other day I was in the mood for some cinnamon rolls with an autumnal twist. Sweet sticky yeasted doughs like cinnamon rolls are actually crazy easy to get right, to the point of being nearly fool proof. As long as you don’t overheat the milk and kill your yeast, the amount of sugar in this dough will ensure that it will rise like it’s getting paid.
The only thing I had a little trouble with was rolling the dough tightly around the filling, but once it rose again you couldn’t tell the difference.
These cinnamon rolls are seriously unbelievable. Like… Whoa.
They’re sweet, tender, light as air, and richly autumnal; with plenty of spice and a nice depth and hint of earthiness from the roasted sweet potato. Wrapped up inside is a sticky sweet filling that’s dripping in cinnamon and bursting with toasted pecans. Then a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing goes on top and takes things to a place I almost can’t even handle. Almost.
While I usually prefer desserts with a subtle, reserved sweetness; these cinnamon rolls are anything but subtle and I LOVE it. Warm from the oven they beg to be pulled apart into tender strips of gooey cinnamon heaven dripping with cream cheese icing. I honestly don’t know who I thought I was fooling with that fork in the first photo. My fingers were covered in sticky nutty spicy sugary goodness mere minutes after these came out of the oven, and that fork went back in the drawer clean as a whistle. I promise that if you make these the last thing anyone will be looking for is a fork, but you should probably make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins on hand.Print
Tux is a food blogger, photographer, dog lover, husband, and avid baker living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Originally from upstate New York, he inherited his love of cooking and baking from his mother and grandmother. With the encouragement of good friends and several glasses of wine, he began his food writing and blogging adventure in the fall of 2013. Learn more about Tux at his blog Brooklyn Homemaker