Monday, May 19, 2008

"Guilt-Free" Cinnamon Rolls

These are quick and easy cinnamon rolls. While they are about 1/2 the calories of the more traditional recipes, I wouldn't actually call them completely "Guilt-Free"; they're still really sweet. I've made them twice with good results. I got the recipe from Cooks Illustrated's Cooking Light magazine (Spring 2008).

The recipe calls for a lot of equipment, fortunately I keep a pan of hot soapy water to hand whenever I bake.

Once my counter was clean (and the previously standing dishes washed), I changed the washing water, and dug out the ingredients.

The dough ingredients were mostly familiar, but I hoped the strangers amongst them would be easily warmed. The microwave made quick work of melting the butter and bringing the skim milk up to 110 degrees. They initially mixed well, but kept separating every time I put the large measuring cup down to tend to other things. The maple syrup did little to help these familiar ingredients keep mixed.

Using the dough hook of my Kitchen Aid mixer, I mixed the four, yeast, and salt together. Then, turning the machine to low, and giving the liquid an extra wisk to get it to at least pretend to be mixed, I drizzled the liquids into the dry ingredients as the Kitchen Aid slowly turned the mixture over and over again.

I had a few problems figuring out when the dough was ready. The recipe calls to allow the dough to be mixed until it's shiny and smooth. It was sticky, but I don't have the experience to know if that was OK. I guessed it was, and turned it out onto a floured silicone baking sheet.

The recipe calls for the dough to be shaped into a ball. But it came out of the Kitchen Aid mixer in a fairly ball-shaped lump. I worked it over for a minute or two (adding flour so it wouldn't all stick to my hands), then dumped it in a metal bowl that was well greased.

I then put the metal bowl in a warm oven, covered with a towl.

After washing my hands (and my equipment), I got to work on the filling. This meant melting more butter. I mixed the butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together in the same large measuring cup I used previously.

When the dough came out of the oven, it hadn't risen much. I put it back on the lightly floured silicone sheet, and rolled the dough out to the size of the sheet. I sprinkled the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the dough, but ended up using the backside of a spoon to press it all in. I think I rolled the dough out too big because I had a devil of a time trying to get the sugar mixture as even as it looked in the picture.

Rolling was easy enough, but it took some practice to roll the dough tightly enough so that when I cut it, the dough roll didn't fall apart.

The cut dough then went into a 13x9 inch baking dish that was liberally lubed. I covered the dish with plastic rap, then the dish went into a warm oven for 40 minutes while I did up the dishes and tried to scrub the flour off the counter, and the floor.

After 40 minutes, the rolls had puffed up a little. I took them out and set the oven to heat to 350. When it was ready, I took off the plastic covering and set the rolls into the oven to cook. I then went back to finding more errant flour in the cubbards, on doors and in drawers in my kitchen.

When the timer went off, I returned to the kitchen and took out the rolls. They were soft and smelled strongly of cinnamon. I made the icing as the rolls cooled on a wire rack, then poured icing over the rolls. Note to self: next time line the counter with some parchment paper before icing the rolls.

They tasted great. The icing was gooy and the rolls soft and delicious.

Cinnamon Rolls

A lighter version of the more traditional rolls, these are quick and easy to make. They taste best if fresh from the oven, but can be stored overnight if they are frosted first.

Categories: Desert, Rolls, Yeast
Cuisine: American
Serving: 1 roll.
Yeild: 12 rolls.
Time to make: 45 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes (includes rising time)
Author: Katie Henderson,
Source: Cooks Illustrated Cooking Light (Spring 2008)
Copyright: Cooks Illusrated
Sering ideas: Great for breakfast, or as a snack in a meeting.


For the dough:

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/3 cupsskim milk, warmed to 110 degrees
3 tablespoonsmaple syrup
2 tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cupsunbleached, all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface
1 packagerapid rise, or instant yeast
1 teaspoontable salt
1/2 cupdark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cupsgranulated sugar
2 teaspoonsground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoontable salt
1 tablespoonunsalted butter, melted
1 cupconfectioners' sugar
4 tablespoonslight cream cheese
1 tablespoonskim milk
1/2 teaspoonvanilla extract


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a large bowl and a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. When the oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off.
  4. Combine the milk, syrup and melted butter together in a large measuring cup.
  5. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook.
  6. Turn the machine to low speed and slowly add the milk mixture.
  7. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mxi until shiny and smooth (4-6 minutes).
  8. If the dough is wet and not forming a ball, add up to 1/4 cup more flour as needed, and knead the dough for 2 more minutes.
  9. Turn the dough onto a heavily floured work surface, shape it into a ball and put it in the greased bowl.
  10. Cover, and let the dough rest in the warm oven for 10 minutes.
  11. While the dough is resting, mix the filling together.
  12. When the 10 minutes are up, put the dough on a lightly flowered work surface and roll it out into an 18x12-inch rectangle.
  13. Sprinkle the surface with the filling and press it evenly into the dough. Leave a 1/2-inch border along the edges.
  14. Starting at the long edge nearest you, roll up the dough into a cylinder.
  15. Brush he border with water and press to seal.
  16. Using a chef's knife, slice the dough into 12 rounds.
  17. Place them in the prepared pan, with the cut side up. Cover the pan with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray, and return them to the warm oven until the rolls have nearly doubled in size 30-40 minutes.
  18. Remove the pan from the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. the rolls will continue to rise on the counter as you wait for the oven to heat.
  19. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls until they are a deep brown, 20-25 minutes. Rotate the pan from back to front 1/2 way through baking.
  20. When the rolls are done, make the icing by whisking the ingredients together until smooth.
  21. Remove the pan from the oven, and turn the rolls out on to a cooling rack. Remember to put a piece of parchment paper, or a pan beneath the rack!
  22. Cool 10 minutes, then spread the icing over the rolls.


The color and size of the rolls are more important than the times given in this recipe. If the rolls have not doubled in size after the second rise, give them 10-15 minutes more time and turn the oven back on to 200 degrees. When the oven is at that temperature, turn it off immediately.

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