Freshly cut flowers, hazy blue skies scattered with whisps of cloud, long evening walks in the gently fading sunshine, lazy weekends snuggled up in a duvet. This time of year brings people together to celebrate the awakening of nature, to praise the longer days and warmer weather and allows us to enjoy the simpler things in life; one of those things being home-baked treats just perfect for Easter!
When thinking of seasonally appropriate tasty treasures hot cross buns spring to mind, Dutch sugar bread, chocolatey eggs or fluffy pancakes perhaps, all of which will no doubt be consumed in our house over the next couple of weeks, but the recipe I am sharing today is for deliciously sticky, sweet cinnamon rolls!
The basic recipe makes around 14, but you can half or double the recipe depending on the size of your tribe and feel free to switch up the flavours to really add a twist of something special! I've kept things pretty basic since this is my first ever attempt and the classic cinnamon and sugar had me from the get go, but you could add chopped pecans or walnuts, use a vanilla sugar in place of cinnamon, drizzle honey as a glaze or even add a little orange zest to get the party going!
For the dough:
1/2 cup / 345g unsalted butter, melted
2 cups / 355ml whole milk, warm to the touch
1/2 cup / 380g caster sugar
7 g active dry yeast
5 cups / 450g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
For the filling:
3/4 cup / 170g butter, softened
3/4 cup / 144g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
For the frosting:
4 oz / 114g cream cheese
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup / 130g powdered sugar
Get to it!
Once you've prepared your baking tins with a little butter and baking paper, add into a large mixing bowl the melted butter, the warm milk and your sugar and mix together.
Gently sprinkle the dry yeast across your mixture in an even layer and leave for 1 minute to sit.
Next add about 3/4 of your flour (saving about a quarter for later) and using a wooden spoon mix this together lightly before you cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel and leave for an hour in a warm place.
Check on your little beastie after an hour and it should have doubled in size. Add the remaining 1/4 flour and also throw in the salt and baking powder, stirring it all together then turning it out onto a well floured surface. Add a little extra flour until the dough isn't crazy sticky but malleable enough to roll out.
Knead it lightly, turning it into itself as you go then roll the dough out into a rectangle about half an inch thick. Try and get this as even as you can, no I mean seriously, go ahead and try, I dare ya! (I'm aiming for taste over presentation...)
Now you should gently spread the softened butter across your dough, sprinkle the brown sugar and your cinnamon powder. This is where things start to smell good!
The fun part; carefully roll the top edge (or one of the longest sides of your rectangle) in on itself all the way until you create a log, then cut this guy in half and slice your way along creating 1-2 inch chunks.
Time to get your oven going, heat it up to 180*C / 350F.
Arrange your doughy rolls onto the baking trays, starting with one in the centre and creating a circular pattern with the rest around this. Cover with cling film and leave it for 30 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until they reach a golden brown colour.
To make the frosting, whisk together the cream cheese, the melted butter and the milk adding the powdered sugar slowly as you go, until you reach your desired density.
Once the cinnamon rolls are cooked, removed from the oven and swirl over the frosting while they're still warm.
Test one immediately for poison, lick the frosting bowl and spoon to help the washing up stage later and generously share out amongst your loved ones for a delicious Easter sweet treat, just be sure to stash at least two in a securely hidden place, you know, for emergencies.
If deliciously soft chocolate chip cookies are more your thing then please feel free to use my (religiously tried and tested) recipe or if you have the Easter Bunny over for a bite to eat then perhaps this ridiculously good carrot cake would fit the bill?! However you choose to spend your weekend I do wish you a relaxing, hopefully sunshiney few days.