Beyond my staple recipes, I never really thought about cinnamon beyond the basic ground or sticks I keep in 4 oz. jars in the spice drawer. I first learned about Vietnamese Cinnamon just a few months ago, when reading White on Rice Couple's blog…. I was intrigued! First, because of its particularly spicy flavor, it seemed better suited to my style of cooking. Second, I knew I’d be traveling to Vietnam, so I’d have a chance to buy at its source.
Indeed I purchased several quills of cinnamon on my recent trip. When I returned home, I scoured on-line and in my cookbook library for recipes that use cinnamon, but little other spicing. I wanted the cinnamon to really be able to shine. Then, as I was procrastinating one day, reading “Equal Opportunity Kitchen” I noticed that Psychgrad had cinnamon rolls on her list of recipes she’d like to try. This seemed perfect... and even more fun, I thought we could cook together! I invited Psychgrad over for a virtual cooking party.
Cinnamon Rolls are a spin-off from Brioche or Challah. All three use a similar enriched yeast dough; the richness coming from either butter or oil, and eggs. The cinnamon roll dough gets an extra kick from the swirls of sugar and butter in the middle.
The Vietnamese quills of cinnamon, which come from the bark of a variety of evergreen tree, are huge – 15 inches long and 4 inches around.
I used my coffee bean grinder (which I cleaned first, of course) to break down the sticks into a coarse powder. I’ve normally kept my pantry stocked with both ground and stick cinnamon, and pull out the jar that is necessary for a given recipe. I’ve never actually ground my own cinnamon, so my initial thought with the coarse grind was that this is a liability. In fact, I rather liked the little bits of cinnamon sprinkled throughout – they offered an unexpectedly pleasant, spicy burst.
I further modified the traditional cinnamon bun recipe by adding a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the actual dough – ignoring Penzy’s recommendation to use less of the Vietnamese variety than what a recipe suggests of the usual variety.
Be careful with these… if you’re like me, and can’t tolerate a lot of sugar, you could be in trouble… the spicy sweetness is addictive. The neighbors have been complaining about the noise from me bouncing off the walls with too much sugar.
½ cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
½ stick butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon melted butter
1. In a small bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the yeast activate.
2. In a small skillet, melt the butter with the sugar. Removed from heat and whisk in the milk. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
3. Combine milk/butter mix, yeast and eggs in an electric mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook. Add ½ cup flour and begin mixing. Add salt and cinnamon.
4. Continue mixing and adding flour until the dough comes together in a firm ball, you may not need all the flour… or you could need a little extra depending on the day’s humidity.
5. Knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic.
6. Let dough sit covered in a warm area until doubled in volume. About one hour.
7. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter with ¾ cup of brown sugar over low heat. Stir until combined and sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 13 x 9 inch pyrex dish. Mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon
8. When dough is doubled, roll it out on a well floured table into a rectangle, about ½ inch thick and 18 x 14 inches. Brush with butter. Sprinke sugar mix on top.
Tightly roll up dough. Cut into 1 inch slices. Put slices in baking sheet. You don’t need to crowd the pan as the rolls will expand as they rise and bake.
9. You can bake the rolls immediately, or refrigerate them overnight and bake first thing in the morning. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
10. Let cool for 5 minutes before flipping out of pan. Serve warm with coffee.
I'm submitting this recipe to Southern Grace's Cinnamon Celebration.