My favorite moments of Christmas are the quiet hours; when I am just with one or two friends or family members, maybe each reading a book and sitting together without actually talking. I also enjoy spending a little time by myself, wrapping that last present or cooking a dish to share later. I can’t wait to wake up early Christmas morning and make these cinnamon rolls. Before everyone comes crashing down the stairs, I’ll flour the table, roll out the dough and wait for everything to rise.
When I first tested this recipe, I was horrified to find after stirring in the last bit of flour the dough to be extremely sticky. I had no idea how I was going to knead the shaggy batter when half of it stuck to my hands. In frustration, I threw about a cup of flour onto the counter to make a barrier between my hands and the sticky mound. And in what sure felt like a miracle, I was able to knead the dough into a smooth round ball. With another heap of flour I rolled out a perfectly flat rectangle which I could easily lift from the counter. I fretted over whether the final product would be dense and chewy, but even with my liberal addition, the rolls tasted light and flaky.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 8 to 10 rolls
2/3 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour for the dough plus about another 1-1½ cups for kneading.
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1-ounce light cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon buttermilk
For the Filling
1. Mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.
For the Dough
2. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425°. Grease an 8-inch square or round baking tin.
3. Mix the flour, whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of the melted butter together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until the dough comes together but looks shaggy, about 30 seconds.
4. Sprinkle about a ½ cup of flour onto the counter top. Transfer the dough to counter and top with another ¼ cup flour. Knead until just smooth, about 8-10 times. Adding flour as needed.
5. Top dough with another ¼ cup flour and roll out with a rolling pin into roughly a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Evenly sprinkle filling over dough.
6. Gently roll dough into a tight cylinder, using a knife or metal spatula as you go to help remove the dough from the counter. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the log evenly into 9 rolls. Arrange in the prepared baking pan.
7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the edges of the rolls are golden brown, 12 to 18 minutes longer. Let for 5-7 minutes.
For the glaze
8. Mix the confectioner’s sugar, cream cheese and buttermilk together in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle rolls with the glaze, and serve