There is comfort in simplicity. Hot coffee on a frost dusted morning. Pajamas toasting on the radiator to jump into before bed. Brown toast and peanut butter. All simple, yet so satisfyingly comforting, the smallest things can be far better than fancy coffee, silk pajamas or bulging brunch tables at times. It’s the same for baking. As much as I love standing in my kitchen surrounded by mountains of ingredients, hours stretched in front of me to bake, there are times when something simple yet satisfying can comfort the soul in the time it takes to do a pile of ironing. And all with as little effort as possible.
It snowed the day I made these cinnamon rolls. I had arrived home from the cold one Sunday, every intention set on coffee, blankets and Netflix but instead I had the urge to bake, whipping up Joy the Baker’s Quick and Dirty Cinnamon Rolls. Quick as the yeast is frothed into hot milk, cutting the prove and rising times by hours and Dirty for the filling packed with chocolate, toasty pecans and plenty of cinnamon. As the snow fell in fat flakes, then swirls of wind whipped through the air, I was in my simple, happy, comforting place, rolling pillowy softly yellow dough and scattering with a snow cloud of my own made of cocoa powder, brown sugar and plenty of cinnamon.
The end result is nine miniature cinnamon rolls, perfectly small enough to justify more than one with those blankets, Netflix and coffee. Doused in a sweet spice glaze, they are sticky and just warmed through for the chocolate chips to melt alongside the cinnamon and chocolate filling. Eat them curled up in bed, licking your fingers and hibernating after just over an hour of making, proving, resting and baking. Comfort and simplicity, sometimes there is nothing finer.
- 125ml almond milk (this was simply because I had it in the fridge, but cows milk will work just the same)
- 30g butter
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 250g plain flour
- 1 sachet fast action yeast
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ tsp salt
- -for the filling
- 40g butter melted
- 45g soft light brown sugar
- ¾ tsp cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 50g chocolate chips
- 25g pecans, chopped
- -for the glaze
- 40g icing sugar
- A pinch ground cinnamon
- A pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp water
- In a small saucepan placed over a medium heat, whisk together the almond milk, butter, and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly then pour into a large bowl. Add the yeast and whisk quickly then leave to sit for five minutes until foaming.
- Add the flour, salt and the egg yolk to the yeast mix and using a stand or handheld mixer, beat using the dough hook attachments to a soft dough. Bring together with your hands and knead for a few turns on a floured surface. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, continuing to heat as it crackles and turns a golden brown. Once fragrant and a deep golden brown, pour into a mug. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt.
- Once rested, roll the dough on a floured surface to a large rectangle, roughly around 10cm x 18cm. Brush with the brown butter and sprinkle over the cinnamon and cocoa sugar. Sprinkle over the chocolate chips and chopped pecans then roll tightly from the long end. Cut off the ends then slice into nine rounds.
- Grease a 20cm by 20cm square tin with butter and place the cinnamon rolls in the pan evenly. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- As the rolls rise, preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan and once risen, bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and quickly whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl before pouring over the hot buns. Leave to cool slightly before serving warm with coffee.