Cinnamon Rolls

My friend, Al, who has been mentioned quite frequently in my last few posts, surprised me with a bundle of big aromatic cinnamon sticks yesterday. Her father came for a visit recently and brought with him these wonderful cinnamon sticks from Bario, which is well known in our home state of Sarawak (North Borneo) as the unofficial capital of the Kelabit Highlands (home of one of our Sarawakian tribes: the Kelabits). As mentioned before (I think) Al’s family is of the Kelabit tribe, and thus I get to enjoy goodies such as these cinnamon sticks!

I know, I know I only arrived at home around 8pm after being stuck in traffic for the better part of the evening. And yes, I know that my favourite cinnamon roll recipe takes roughly 2 hours from start to finish… and there was the matter of finishing that book I’ve been reading (which I love and now have a massive book hangover for: shoutout Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss)…

But how could I resist the draw of that wonderful aroma? Could you? I make no claims at being a strong-willed person, as made quite clear by my cuddly form (heh heh heh) I am a slave to my palate. So I weighed, I measured, and I rolled… then at 1.45am I was rewarded with the smell of cinnamon spreading far and wide through the house to reach my bedroom, and I fell asleep and dreamt that I was an elf in Santa’s workshop.

I found this recipe last year while browsing through my favourite magazine (delicious UK) and have had it bookmarked ever since. It’s been waiting for the right time, the right inspiration, and hello baby, here it is!

Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou c/o Delicious magazine UK

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 70ml warm water
  • 200g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, plus 1 more for the egg wash
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
Ready and risen
  1. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the yeast and sugar and warm water over it. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until all the sugar and yeast has dissolved
  2. Add 100g of flour and mix with a wooden spoon until you achieve a soft wet dough, then cover with a damp towel for 1 hour until it rises to double the size. This wet mixture is called the “pre-ferment” mix. Gross right?
  3. Then while waiting for the dough to rise, besides reading 6 chapters of Wise Man’s Fear, mix the remaining 100g of flour with the salt and cinnamon and set aside
  4. When the pre-ferment is ready, add in the flour mixture and the egg then mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Mix in the butter with your hands (this is a lot easier than trying to get an even mix with the spoon, trust me), then let the dough sit covered again for 10 minutes
  5. After 10 minutes, leaving the dough in the bowl, pull a piece of dough from the side of the bowl and press it into the middle (folding it like you would your clothes), repeating 8 times around the dough while you spin the bowl slowly. Cover again and leave for another 10 minutes
  6. Repeat the folding step 3 times, resting the dough for 10 minutes in between each fold, and leave it to rest for another hour after the final fold
  7. After 1 hour, punch the dough down and transfer it to a lightly floured clean surface, pressing with your fingertips to get it flattened out into a rectangular shape
  8. Brush with egg wash, then sprinkle with 2 tbsp caster sugar and most of the extra cinnamon. Roll the dough on the long side then cut into 2 cm blocks, arranging them cut side up onto your prepared baking dish (greased with vegetable oil and dusted with flour). Cover and leave to rise to just under double the size for 45 minutes – 1 hour
  9. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C, and place an empty roasting in on the lowest rung of the oven. Prepare a cup of water, which you will pour into the roasting pan after you pop the cinnamon rolls into the oven
  10. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes to 20 minutes or until golden, then when it’s done, take them out of the oven and turn onto a wire rack to cool. Serve these warm, with a brush of melted butter, and a dusting of icing powder and cinnamon
Fresh out of the oven, waiting to cool enough before I can tear it apart

These cinnamon rolls are great for anytime, breakfast, tea, a mid-morning snack, elevenses, second breakfast, Christmas morning, rainy afternoons… it just requires a bit more effort than most of the recipes I share do. It’s simple and really doesn’t need a lot of heavy lifting, however, it takes up a lot of waiting time. So I suggest you take the time to catch up to that book you’ve been putting off, or to cleaning out the oven *facepalm*

They tasted great this morning, and I can’t wait to make another batch with the special cinnamon sticks to give out to friends and family. Thank you, Alena/Alena’s dad! I’ll be sending some rolls your way soon x

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