I hate flying. Hate it. Love traveling, but hate flying. This is a difficult feeling to manage when you live 3000+ miles away from all of your family and most of your closest friends. Almost every year, I swear to myself that I will not fly home for the holidays this year, just to find myself frantically searching for flights come December. The worst part about flying to New York from California is having a lay-over in some city which will inevitably have some sort of weather problem. Yes, I know there are direct flights from California to New York, but I am too cheap for those (please see profile: graduate student=no money).
My worst trip home was a few years ago when two days before Christmas, during my layover in Indiana, my flight was canceled, and I had to spend the night in an airport hotel. The compensation from the airlines was a $15 food voucher to buy dinner from any airport restaurant. As appetizing as fast food and greasy pizza sounded, I opted for another airport classic: a giant cinnamon roll from no other than Cinnabon.
What is it about a cinnamon roll that is so comforting and satisfying? The soft and warm bread slathered in cinnamon and butter, and topped with gooey, tangy, and sweet frosting. Yum. Luckily, you don't have to be stuck in an airport to enjoy this warm, gooey goodness - delicious cinnamon rolls are pretty simple to make at home. I have made cinnamon rolls using all purpose flour in the past, but this time wanted to try whole wheat. I used white (rather than regular) whole wheat, and the results were amazing -- taste-wise, these rolls are just as delicious as their all-purpose cousins. Visually, they were a bit browner, and therefore require a bit more care to make sure they don't overcook.
Once the dough is mixed up, it must rise for at least 2 hours. Then it is rolled
into a large rectangle and sprinkled with butter and a generous helping of
(or unwaxed dental floss) to cut the dough helps prevent it from sticking
here (woops, somehow I ended up with 3 ends instead of 2).
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008 via SmittenKitchen).
*1 cup whole milk
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter
*3 1/2 cups (or more) white whole wheat flour, divided
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 large egg
*2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
*1 teaspoon salt
*Nonstick vegetable oil spray or butter, for greasing bowl
*3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
*2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*Pinch of salt
*8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
*1 cup powdered sugar
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (You may also use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process.) Form into ball.
Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray or thin layer of butter. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar, then walnuts, evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven (bake separately in ramekin), and cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.