Eating homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning is apparently a tradition in my boyfriend’s family. Last year we spent Christmas morning alone and he made the cinnamon rolls himself the night before. This year, we spent Christmas morning at home alone again and I was given the cinnamon roll baking duties. I should mention that I was given this duty with a warning of “They’d better be good.” It was almost an insinuation that I would ruin Christmas if they weren’t good.
Cinnamon rolls (or buns) are one of my favorite yeasted breads but it’s hard to make a batch that taste good both fresh out of the oven and reheated 2 days later. Almost any recipe tastes good fresh…it’s the 2 days later thing that poses a challenge. Last year’s Christmas cinnamon rolls were from Baking Illustrated and they were mediocre at best. They got rather hard when reheated. We blame the recipe not the baker. But I should note that the cream cheese frosting recipe for their cinnamon buns is a winner. I also made the pumpkin cinnamon rolls from the blog Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk a couple of times this year and while they were rather fantastic, we wanted to try a new recipe for Christmas. So I went to the internet.
I wanted to make delicious cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I also wanted them to be pretty much ready to go Christmas morning. Yet I didn’t want to bake them the night before. Nothing beats that fresh from the oven taste. I cruised Food Gawker and Tastespotting for just a few minutes when I found the 3 magic words I was looking for: overnight cinnamon rolls. In addition, those 3 magic words were preceded by the name Alton Brown. This sounded like a winner. Despite my adoration of Alton Brown (and frequent viewership when I used to have cable), I have never made any of his recipes. Until now.
These were perfect. All the work was done on Christmas Eve. All I had to do on Christmas morning was let them rise for a little while and bake them. I made the icing the night before as well. The only hard part on Christmas morning was waiting for them to be cool enough to eat without burning the roof of my mouth.
I think the loads of egg yolks and buttermilk in this recipe are what made them so fantastic. Don’t skip the buttermilk. And try to find really eggy eggs. The kind with blazing orange yolks. Yes, they’re probably way more expensive than the other eggs…but they’re worth every penny.
Since it’s hard for me to follow a recipe verbatim, the handful of changes I made to the recipe are listed below for your edification.
- The recipe gives directions for making 12 large rolls. We prefer smaller ones so I divided the dough into smaller pieces and made 24 rolls. They still fit in my 9″x13″ pan and all was well. So well that I ate 3 of the little ones in barely one sitting. This might explain why I felt ill for a good part of Christmas Day.
- We like filling. Lots and lots of filling. To accommodate for our love of filling, I made a batch and a half of it. And I probably used a little more cinnamon than the recipe wanted me to use. All was well again.
- Despite my claim of hating raisins, I like them baked into bread with cinnamon. So I added raisins to the recipe. Just sprinkle them in over the filling before you roll the dough.
- I used half the prescribed amount of sugar and substituted honey for the sugar that I didn’t use. I pretty much do this with all of the breads I bake. Honey makes it better. Especially when it’s local honey made by someone you know.
- I added a little bit of vanilla extract to the icing. Maybe a teaspoon. I have to admit that I did not measure the vanilla. I rarely do. It’s risky not to measure but I haven’t totally messed up a recipe this way yet.
Because these turned out so well, I didn’t ruin Christmas. Thank you Alton Brown!
I hope all of your holidays went as well as mine did!