While at the Mother Earth News Fair this last week, I met a talented seamstress and mother of 6. Her store is called “Oh Sew Green”. Check out her facebook (and link to her etsy page). My friend, Andrea and I fell in love with her homemade alternatives to single-use products. Examples were absorbent fabric towels, to be used in place of paper towels, and reusable snack pouches to replace plastic ziplocs. My personal favorite was the elastic bowl cover. The suggested uses were to cover plates or bowls for food storage in your fridge or for transport. However, when I saw it, all I could think is how perfectly it would replace my cheap disposable shower cap as a proofing bowl cover for bread. I found the cutest fabric design. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
I’m always imagining my favorite dishes being “just a little bit different”. I’m not necessarily trying to reinvent the wheel here, but more add a slightly different spin on a classic. So for my first recipe using my new proofing cover, I decided to toy with a new idea for cinnamon rolls. The friend who invited me to the fair love chai tea. So, why not take a normal cinnamon filling, and add a chai spice blend?
Make no mistake, cinnamon rolls are exactly as full of eggs, butter, and milkfat as you would imagine them to be. And that’s what makes them so awesome. Considering this was my first time recipe testing a dough recipe of my own creation, I’d say they turned out pretty nice.
It can be a bit of a time-intensive process. Having the right tools helps.
Mid-process, I realized I need to order a 9″x13″ pan cover in matching fabric. Plastic wrap had to suffice this time
By the time these guys are baked and glazed, you’ll be wondering why you ever fussed about all the work. You troubles just melt away. Or maybe that’s the impending sugar rush talking.
**A few notes about working with yeasted doughs: I think many people avoid anything involving kneading. It can be a frustrating process the first few times, but it feels like a great accomplishment once you get the hang of it. I recommend using The Kitchn website as a resource when in doubt. Their info is very accessible to the average person, and they often have accompanying videos for techniques.
A second note is the proofing process. Everything from temperature, humidity, to the type of flour and yeast used all effect the proofing time. This means your best bet is *not* to make dough and let it proof unchecked for the recommended time. Start checking the dough at 40 minutes. It will be properly proofed if you gently poke the dough and an indentation remains. If not, allow to proof for another 20 minutes at a time.
Third, and most important: maximize the effectiveness of your time. Recipes that involve proofing mean you have time to make all the other components of the recipe, do some dishes, or otherwise bust out a little work to make your life easier. Nothing helps me enjoy something I’ve cooked like not having to worry about a sink full of dishes after.
Chai Spice Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
2 packages (or 4.5 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 warm water (about 100*-115*F)
1 egg, room temperature
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Chai spice mixture
1 whole star anise
1/8 tsp fennel seed
6 whole peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
For the filling
1 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted and divided
2.5 Tbsp chai spice mixture
For the glaze (glaze recipe can be halved)
6 oz sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 Tbsp chai spice mixture
3 Tbsp creamed coconut (I like “Let’s Do Organic” brand)
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 cups powdered sugar
To make the chai spice mix:
Toast anise, fennel, allspice, peppercorns, and cardamom until brown and fragrant. Remove seeds from cardamom pods and dispose of outer shell. Grind in spice grinder. Mix with cinnamon and cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.
To make the cinnamon rolls:
Combine warm water with yeast and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Allow to proof for at least 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, whisk in buttermilk and heat until just warm to the touch. Add eggs and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the mixing attachment, combine 2 cups flour with other dry ingredients. Mix in buttermilk mixture until a smooth dough forms. Add yeast mixture until combined. Switch to dough hook. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together and starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for 6-8 minutes. Dough should be smooth and slightly sticky to the touch. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl. Cover and set in a draft-proof place until doubled in size.
Combine Chai spice mixture and brown sugar. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll out into a rectangle. Spread most of the melted butter along the dough. Sprinkle sugar mixture along dough. Starting with the end closest to you, gently roll dough. Once fully rolled, pinch ends to keep sugar mixture from spilling out. Slice (or google the dental floss trick some people use) into 12 pieces. Place in a buttered 9″x 13″ baking pan. Brush the rolls with the remaining butter mixture. Cover and proof until doubled in size.
While rolls are proofing, whisk together all ingredients for glaze in a small bowl and leave in fridge until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375* F. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then spread on desired amount of glaze. Once cool, rolls can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen individually and kept for up to 2 weeks.