This weekend I hosted a gathering to celebrate my friend Jessica’s birthday. Jessica has an affiliation for homemade cinnamon rolls and she’s a critic for cinnamon buns on brunch menus around town. So, it was only fitting to host a brunch centered around cinnamon buns – that also featured summer blueberries. The best thing about this recipe (aside from how delicious they are) is that you can prepare the rolls the night before. They need an hour rise before baking but that time can easily be consumed by waking up, drinking coffee and preparing the rest of the brunch. I served these along with a summer frittata with local tomatoes, corn, squash, onion, cheese and bacon. Plus, a bounty of ice coffee and fruit brought by friends.
Super easy party with really great company.
For the dough:
- 1 cup milk, scalded
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/8 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet yeast
- 3 cups flour, sifted
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 5 tablespoons butter, 1 Tbsp set aside for greasing pan
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- For the dough: combine the scalded milk, sugar, salt, and half of the melted butter in a large mixing bowl; let cool a bit. Once the mixture is lukewarm, add the yeast. Let the yeast sit in mixture until it is active and frothy, about ten minutes.
- Add two cups of flour to the mixture and beat thoroughly. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, adding just enough to form a light dough (a little softer than bread dough).
- Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time. Using the remaining butter, grease the bottom of a large bowl and place the dough in it; brush the top of the dough with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
- Once risen, knead the lemon zest into dough. Roll the dough out into a 14″ by 9″ rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
- For the filling: mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, thyme, zest, and salt in a bowl. Brush the dough with 4 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar-aromatics mixture all over. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries evenly over the surface of the dough.
- Beginning with the long side of the rectangle dough, roll the dough into a log and pinch the edges to seal. Cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch slices.
- Coat the bottom of a square or round pan with remaining melted butter. Place the cinnamon rolls in a 9×9 square pan or 10 inch round pan or skillet and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or so. Cover and refrigerate. These can be made up to 12 hours in advance.
- When you’re ready to bake the following morning, start with a cold oven and put the rolls on the middle rack. Take a shallow dish and fill it with boiling water. Place the dish on a rack directly under the rolls and close the oven. Forget about the rolls for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Take the rolls out of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Once the oven is heated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- To glaze: mix together an additional 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Add hot water one tablespoon at a time until the glaze is the consistency you like. Spread the glaze on the cinnamon rolls once they have cooled slightly.