When it comes to cinnamon buns there seems to be a divide between those who prefer sticky buns - baked upside down in a sugar crust - and cinnamon rolls - soft with a swirl of cinnamon inside and a white glaze on top. But it doesn't have to be so...
Here's a recipe for sweet, spicy, decadent cinnamon rolls that can satisfy those who want a crunchy sugar glaze on the bottom and creamy icing on top. All it takes (all it ever takes, really) is a little extra butter and a little extra sugar. These are not a breakfast for those on a diet; these are not to be made every weekend. But when you're making cinnamon rolls, in our opinion it's best to go all out. This is that recipe.
The spices are what make these special. If you use fresh spices you'll get something just a little different from the standard cinnamon bun - it's worth it.
Spicy Sticky Cinnamon Rolls
about 1 1/2 dozen
For the dough
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
For the filling
4 small cinnamon sticks
1 star anise pod
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened until runny
For the icing
1/2 package cream cheese, very soft
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar to taste - start with a cup
To make the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk in a large bowl and set aside until slightly bubbly. With a whisk or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat in the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time, until the dough is very thick.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and warm, or switch to the dough hook and knead in the stand mixer. Knead for about 5 minutes in the mixer, or 7 minutes by hand, until the dough is taut and smooth.
Wipe out the bowl and spray lightly with vegetable oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place in greased bowl, turning it to make sure it's coated in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled — about 2 hours.
On a floured surface roll into a large rectangle.
Grind the spices until fine in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and mix with the brown sugar. When the dough is rolled out, slather it thickly with the butter, then with a thick layer of the spiced sugar. Roll up along the long side and cut into individual rolls. Place in a parchment-lined pan and let proof until doubled again - about 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350ºF. Bake for about 20 minutes.
For icing: Beat all ingredients together, adding more powdered sugar as necessary to get the consistency you prefer. Drizzle over hot rolls with a fork.