What is it about a bakery that makes my knees weak? Is it the sugar, the yeast, the sight of all those delectable treats waiting to be eaten? The first attraction is the smell wafting onto the street every time the front door opens. These familiar aromas become snapshots our brain takes and catalogs. It is those few meals or foods that leave such a lasting impression, that take me on a journey trying to replicate the experience.
Makes eight - adapted from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2002 issue
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Combine filling ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork until blended. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to begin making the dough. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 3 tablespoons of the melted butter.
3. Add the flour mixture to the bowl of your Cuisinart Stand Mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, turn on your mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix just until the liquid and dry ingredients have combined (dough will appear lumpy). Turn the mixer speed to high and beat until the dough comes together in a ball (about 30 seconds).
4. On a generously floured surface, knead the dough about 15 seconds until smooth. Roll out into a 16" x 12" rectangle. Brush with two tablespoons of melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar filling over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border plain on the top and bottom. Press filling into dough with fingertips.
5. Roll dough into a log starting from the longest (16-inch) side nearest you, as pictured above. Pinch ends and seam closed. Cut into eight equal pieces*. Place one piece in center and fill in pan with rest of the pieces. Press down each roll with your hand to flatten slightly. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for 22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cake pan, being careful to keep rolls together, onto a wire cooling rack or serving dish. Let cool for five minutes.
6. While rolls are cooling, make the icing. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk together in a small bowl until smooth (mixture may have small lumps). Add sifted confectioner's sugar and meat with a whisk until smooth and there are no more lumps. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.
* For slightly smaller rolls, perfect for brunches, cut the formed log into 12 equal pieces and gently press into a 12-cup muffin tin, as pictured above. Reduce cooking time to 17 to 19 minutes, or until golden. Let rest in pan for one minute, then transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with icing.