I am a sucker for a good culinary memoir. Recently, I devoured both of Molly Wizenberg's books in about 2 days, Amelia Morris's Bon Appetempt was the same, Heat, My Life in France, Kitchen Confidential, Julie and Julia, Blood, Butter, & Bones.... I read them all (and more) lightning fast. So when, Jessica Fechtor of Sweet Amandine, a blog I have followed for ages offered to send me a copy of her memoir Stir I jumped at the chance to read it, and as is my custom, finished it over a weekend. It was a moving, beautifully written story (that I won't explain in detail here because I think you should all read it too) that details her recovery after an aneurism burst in her brain. Woven through are the recipes for the comforting and cozy foods she and others cooked during those many months.
After I finished reading, and wiping away a few tears, I paged through the book a second time looking for a recipe to cook and was immediately drawn to her challah. I love baking yeast breads, especially as the weather cools down, and this no knead method was soooo easy and forgiving. If you are scared of bread baking, this might be a good place to start because you seriously can't mess it up. I made the recipe a few times, as traditional braids, but then I realized that it would make the perfect base for cinnamon rolls. You can prep the dough the night before, then form the rolls and let them rise the morning you want to serve them. Jessica, I hope you don't mind that I bastardized your beautiful challah into cinnamon rolls.
No Knead Challah Cinnamon Rolls
Five Fold Challah recipe from Jessica Fechtor's Stir
makes 2 loaves of challah or about 12 cinnamon rolls
This dough is easy to make, totally delicious, and super forgiving. I have made it with vegetable oil and olive oil, both are great. I also made it with all purpose flour and it turned out just fine. For challah shaping instructions, check out this post on Food52.
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (save the white for glazing if you are making braids)
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until a wet, sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.
Peel back the plastic. Grab an edge of the dough, lift it up, and fold it over itself to the center. Turn the bowl a bit and repeat around the entire lump of dough, grabbing an edge and folding it into the center, eight turns, grabs, and folds in all. Then flip the dough so that the folds and seams are on the bottom. Cover tightly again with the plastic, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Repeat the all-around folding, flipping, covering, and resting four more times. (I keep track by drawing hash marks in permanent marker right on the plastic.) The dough ﬂops more than it folds in the first round or two. Then, as the gluten develops, you’ll get proper folds. By the final fold, the dough will be wonderfully elastic, and you’ll be able to see and feel the small pockets of air within. Pull the plastic tight again over the bowl and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours—any longer and you risk over-proofing.
The next morning, make the cinnamon rolls. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Stir the sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 x 12 x 1/2-inch thick . Brush the melted butter over the top, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Starting from the long end, tightly roll the dough into a log. Slice the log into 12 pieces and arrange them in the baking dish. Cover the dish with a towel and let the rolls rise until puffy and almost doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Bake the rolls until golden and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
While the rolls are cooling, make the glaze by whisking all of the glaze ingredients together. It should be thick but pourable, if it's too thick add a bit of milk, if it is too thin add a bit of confectioner's sugar.
Drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy immediately.
And a quick housekeeping note: When I moved and redesigned the blog last year many links were broken, especially for older posts. I'm working to correct those errors now. So sorry for any inconvenience.