The original recipe for these was featured in Cook’s Illustrated back in 2002. It was a very genius approach to cinnamon rolls, using baking powder instead of yeast. They had me at no proofing necessary.
After years of sticking to the recipe, I decided cloves had no place in my version. Maybe for someone craving an adult taste. But me? I wanted the moist, gooey ones my mom made from the can, sans the chemical aftertaste. I also doubled the butter and sugar in the dough, and it makes for a better sweet bread, without being cloying.
Then I totally nixed sifting the confectioners’ sugar. I found mashing it up with the cream cheese using a fork to be a much easier and moresuccessful way of getting a smooth, lump-free icing.
Lastly, after years of never being able to eat a whole mammoth one, it finally occurred to me that I could make them smaller and use a big tray to bake them. Now instead of fighting for the one gooey, icing rich center there are four—one for each of us!
foolproof cinnamon buns
inspired by Cook’s Illustrated
3/4 cup packed (136 grams) dark brown sugar
To make the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a deep bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir together with a wooden spoon until it forms a scraggly-looking dough. Knead a few times until it becomes smooth, then divide into two equal portions.
On a lightly floured surface, gently press each piece of dough into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle (you can use a rolling pin if you feel more comfortable). Sprinkle an even amount of cinnamon-sugar filling over each flattened piece of dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Gently pat the filling into dough with your fingertips. Roll each filled dough into a log starting from the longest (12-inch) side nearest you. Pinch ends closed. Cut each rolled log into eight equal pieces, you should have 16 rolls in total now.
Using a pastry brush, coat an 11-inch by 8-inch rectangular glass or ceramic baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Arrange cut rolls in the pan, and press down with your hand to flatten slightly. Brush tops with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is bubbling from the top. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the icing, use a fork to mash the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar together into a paste. Whisk in the buttermilk until it forms a smooth icing. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.