Light and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls and Orange/Macadamia Nut Sweet Rolls... using the tangzhong method. While I've made cinnamon rolls before, I have to say this set of sweet rolls has got to be one of my favorites. They're soft and fluffy, light and airy.... and oh-so-delicious! And the dough is a perfect canvas for a ton of filling variations.
Ever since I made my first Japanese tangzhong bread, I knew then that I wanted to apply the tangzhong method to other breads. Cinnamon rolls have always been on my list of recipes to add here on my site.... just because cinnamon rolls are always fun to make, and well, they're the perfect breakfast dessert for when you have guests... or even for those lazy Saturday mornings when you want something sweet to go with your cup of coffee.
When I took out my ingredients to bake, I knew I wanted to make the classic cinnamon flavored rolls. Because I simply LOVE cinnamon, a cinnamon filling would definitely be made:). But at the same time, I also wanted to be a bit more adventurous, so I decided to try my hand at a not-so-classic filling, a combination I came up with on the spur of the moment. Because I had some orange peel in my freezer and some toasted macadamia nuts (that I had bought to make cookies:)), I decided to combine the two and make an orange-macadamia nut filling. That combination was a winner! It was hands down my husband's favorite of the two fillings. Though, in all fairness, the cinnamon rolls were just as delicious, except they turned out a tad bit too cinnamon-y:). For some reason, when I made the cinnamon filling, I thought the mixture could easily hold 1 and 1/2 tablespoons worth of cinnamon. I mean cinnamon rolls should have plenty of cinnamon, right? Umm, it was a bit much:)... well, I personally liked it, even though it almost tasted like the Red Hot candy. Almost. However, I've adjusted the amount in the recipe, so feel free to add cinnamon to taste. Needless to say, we still enjoyed the cinnamon variation.
While I made 2 fillings to share here in this post, you can be quite creative with so many other fillings. You have the option of omitting the nuts and adding coconut instead, or substitute other nuts, or add dried fruits. You can also use various spreads, preserves, and even play around with different icings or frostings.... it's nice to go seasonal at times by making a meyer lemon, cherry, maple, pumpkin, apple cider frosting/icing etc. I'd even make a crushed mint icing for Christmas maybe with a chocolate filling of sorts or a cranberry filling. These are just some ideas, but the basic sweet bread dough is wonderful to work with and is light and fluffy without being to heavy.
I also tested an overnight batch, to see how they would do..... and even baked the overnight batch in the toaster oven, making individual servings. They came out wonderful. A great recipe all around.
These sweet rolls will now be my go-to recipe.... well, I may still try other recipes, just because I'm always looking for something new:). But the recipe is perfect if you want to make only 12( or so) sweet rolls... and if you like, you can double recipe to feed a crowd. Actually, I like to double the recipe so that I can make 2 flavors. I'll wrap them individually and freeze them. Then I can just pull one out... or two... and warm them up again. They'll be just as fresh, if not better. Better, because the flavors intensify... at least that's what I noticed with all my baked goods. Hope you enjoy...
Note: You can see the original sweet bread dough that uses the tangzhong method for more information and pictures on how to make the basic milk bread dough.
Tip: If you like more of the pull-apart sweet rolls, then place the cut and filled rolls closer to each other in pan. If you like the sweet rolls to be as separate single servings, then place rolls with a bit of a distance between each other.
You will need:
Tangzhong roux: for two(2) sets of sweet rolls
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
Dough: for one(1) set of sweet rolls... so double if making 2 sets of sweet rolls. I like to make the dough separately for each set of sweet rolls.
2½ cups bread flour
4 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp table salt (original uses 1 tsp)
1 egg, at room temp.
1/2 cup milk, warm
1/2(scant) cup tangzhong (use half of the tangzhong you make from above)
2 tsp instant yeast
4 TBS butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
flavorings/ extracts of choice can be added
1. Mix flour in water well so you don't have any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook it.
2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker.... similar to a creme patisserie (thin pudding-like ). You will notice some “lines” appear in the mixture every time you stir and the roux should fall slowly off a whisk ... the temperature should be at 150 deg F. Remove from heat.
3. Transfer the tangzhong into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature. If making only one loaf, the leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to 3 days... as long as it doesn't turn grey. If so, you need to discard and cook another batch. Bring the chilled tangzhong to room temperature before adding to other ingredients.Knead Sweet Dough:
1. Combine all dry ingredients, flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a your mixer bowl. Mix to combine... a few seconds.
2. Add all the wet ingredients, milk, egg and tangzhong (remember to use only 1/2 of the tangzhong if making only 1 set of rolls)... and any flavorings of choice, if you desire. I added 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract for the orange rolls. For the cinnamon rolls, I added 1 tsp vanilla.
3. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed(about 5 minutes), then add in the butter while mixer is still kneading.... continue kneading for an additional 10-12 minutes.
4. Remove dough from bowl, and form the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover.
5. Let proof till doubled in size, about 40 minutes or so... though the time will vary depending on the weather and warmth in the house. I like to place mine in a cozy oven.
6. Repeat steps for the second set of sweet rolls as the first set is rising.
7. While rolls are rising make fillings...
Orange- Macadamia Nut
Tip: You can easily add some shredded coconut to the filling as well... to make a tropical version.
1/2 cup roasted macadamia nut pieces
4 TBS sugar
4 TBS softened butter
2 TBS grated orange zest
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
4 TBS softened butter
4 TBS sugar
2-3 tsps ground cinnamon, or to taste*
* I ended up using 1.5 TBS cinnamon for mine... I decreased the amount here, since it was a tad too much, even for me, a cinnamon lover:). But if you like cinnamon, by all means increase the amount.
1. In the bowl of a food processor, place all of the ingredients for the orange-macadamia nut filling and process till a paste forms. Remove and set aside.
2. Do the same for the cinnamon-nut filling. Set aside. Alternately,if you only want to do one flavor then just double amounts for filling of choice.
3. Butter/oil a baking pan and line with parchment paper.Lightly butter the parchment paper as well. Set aside. I used a 9 inch pie plate...though it was way too small, and I had to use a another smaller pan for the extra pieces that didn't fit. I would probably use a 13 x 9 pan or even an 11 x 17 pan next time... if the rolls are too tight in the pan, the rolls can spill out as they rise in the oven.
4.When dough has risen to double in size, plop it out unto a lightly oiled counter top. Shape dough in a rough rectangle then using a rolling pin or your hands, roll/stretch it to a 17x13 rectangle. Spread filling all over the surface, then roll jelly style. I rolled beginning with the 13 inch side.
5. Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut 1 1/2 inch circles and place in a buttered/oiled parchment lined pan. You should get about 12 pieces or so.
6. Allow the rolls to proof for an additional 20-30 minutes or until puffed and almost doubled.
7. Preheat oven to 350 deg F
8. Bake rolls in a pre-heated (350 deg F) oven for 25-30 minutes... you may need to cover the rolls lightly with foil, if you feel the rolls are browning too fast. I found myself covering it the last 10 minutes for the orange macadamia-nut, though for the cinnamon roll didn't...
In the meantime make icing: Icing is good for 2 sets of sweet rolls. I used the icing for both the orange and cinnamon rolls. But if you like a cream cheese frosting on your cinnamon rolls, you can halve the icing and use this cream cheese frosting, though you may not need all of it... or simply use your own favorite icing.
4 TBS orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
a couple of drops almond extract
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups icing sugar
Whisk ingredients, adjusting icing sugar to make icing thickness to preference. Set aside.
9. Remove rolls from the oven when golden brown and allow to cool somewhat. Drizzle with icing.... I like to add half of the icing when rolls are warm and then drizzle the rest when rolls have cooled. This way the icing doesn't melt completely and you can see some drizzles.
Note: you can freeze rolls and reheat later to get it to be just as light and fluffy.
NOTE: I ended up having a few extra pieces of the cut and filled rolls that didn't fit in my pans, so I covered them in individual small pans and refrigerated them overnight. The following day, I brought the rolls to room temperature and allowed them to rise until about double in size... Baked them in the toaster oven for about 15-20 minutes?... or until nicely golden. In case you want to bake the rolls fresh, you can definitely make the rolls to step 5 above and bake the following morning.