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Country Cinnamon Rolls

Country Cinnamon Rolls
Fragrant with cinnamon, these old-fashioned rolls are laced with pecans, raisins and a sweet, crumbly filling known as streusel (streusel means "sprinkle" or "strew" in German). The rolls can be refrigerated during the second rise for up to 24 hours, making it easy to prepare them in advance for breakfast or brunch. The next morning, let the rolls stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then bake and serve warm with butter.

Ingredients:

For the streusel filling:

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

For the rolls:

  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour,
     plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot milk (125°F)
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
     pieces, at room temperature, plus more
     for serving
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants, or 1/2 cup
     dried cranberries, soaked in hot water for
     10 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. milk or half-and-half

Directions:

To make the streusel filling, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the rolls, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, granulated sugar and salt. Add the hot milk and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the butter, eggs and 1/4 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook. Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed until soft, smooth and springy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled deep bowl and turn once to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel filling, leaving a 1-inch border along the long edges. Sprinkle with the raisins and pecans, pressing them in lightly to adhere. Beginning with the long end, roll up jelly-roll fashion; it will be bulky. Pinch the long seam to seal but leave both ends open. Using a serrated knife, gently cut the roll crosswise into pieces 1 1/2 inches thick. Arrange, cut sides down and rolls just touching, in the prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until puffy, about 1 hour. Alternatively, cover with a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate to rise for 2 to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Brush the tops of the rolls with some of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the milk once more. Using a spatula, remove the rolls from the pan and place them, bottom side up, on wire racks. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the rolls onto a serving plate. Pull apart and server with butter.
Make 10 rolls.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Bread, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2002).