When pastry chef Deborah Racicot makes her fluffy cinnamon rolls at New York City's Gotham Bar and Grill, her customers go insane for them. And so do her colleagues: Racicot gathers up every bit of leftover dough, smears it with cinnamon butter and bakes it. She says there's not one staffer who doesn't dive right in.
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1 cup whole milk
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 pinch granulated sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
2 large eggs
4 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons half-and-half
How to Make It
In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the whole milk at high power in 30-second bursts until it's warm but not hot. Stir in the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar and let the milk stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat 1 stick of the butter with the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the teaspoon of salt at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat at low speed until incorporated. Beat in the warm milk mixture, scraping in any yeast that has settled in the bottom of the bowl.
Switch to a dough hook. Gradually add the remaining 2 1/4 cups of flour and beat at medium speed until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Cut four 15-inch-long sheets of wax paper. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and divide it into quarters. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll the dough to a 14-by-7-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it onto a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough. Transfer 2 sheets of dough to each of 2 baking sheets and freeze for about 15 minutes, until well chilled but still pliable.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, blend the remaining stick of butter with the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
Evenly spread 1 sheet of dough with one-fourth of the cinnamon butter. Trim the edges to form a neat 12-by-6-inch rectangle. Working from a long side, tightly roll up the dough. Return the dough to the freezer and chill until very cold, about 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sheets of dough and cinnamon butter.
Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Cut the rolls 1 inch thick (you should have about 48). Arrange the cinnamon rolls, cut side up, in concentric circles in the pan, starting from the edge and working into the center. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until puffy.
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners' sugar with the half-and-half and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Remove the plastic from the rolls and bake them for about 25 minutes, until golden and risen and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 180°. Let stand for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the ring from the rolls. Remove the ring. Slide the rolls onto a plate, drizzle with the glaze and serve.
The unbaked rolls can be covered in plastic wrap and allowed to rise overnight in the refrigerator; let warm to room temperature before baking. The baked cinnamon rolls can be covered in plastic wrap and stored overnight at room temperature. Reheat before serving.
You can add 1/4 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts and 1/4 cup of chopped raisins to the buttery filling, if desired.
When serving these rolls to a group, it's fun to present them straight out of the pan in a big round, then let everyone pull the pieces apart.
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