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Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

There is quite possibly no better aroma than a pan of these big, puffy rolls baking in the oven, fragrant with cinnamon, brown sugar and orange zest.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed (110°F)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

For the filling:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

To make the dough, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, the 4 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until the ingredients come together. Toss in the butter and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half.

Roll out 1 dough half into a rectangle about 9 by 14 inches. Spread with half of the butter, then sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the rectangle away from you, forming a log. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in half of the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients, and arrange the slices in the other half of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before baking.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Brush the rolls lightly with the beaten egg mixture. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until thoroughly combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the consistency is too soft, refrigerate the frosting until it is spreadable, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the pan with the rolls to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then spread the rolls with the frosting while they are still warm. Pull the rolls apart and serve warm. Makes 16 rolls.

Baker’s note: If you like, add 1/3 cup raisins or toasted chopped pecans to the filling. If you prepare these the night before up until the final rise and baking, then all you have to do in the morning is let them come to room temperature and slide them in the oven to bake.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2011).