My great grandmother, Frances Bercher, was famous for her cinnamon rolls. She made these sweet, doughy buns for kaffeeklatsch, when the women of the family would bring their children and gather for kaffee (German for coffee) and klatsch (a bit of gossip). I've taken her recipe and made it my own, carrying on the cinnamon roll tradition for my family. Don't be daunted by the process, baking your own cinnamon rolls from scratch is simple and this recipe foolproof. This recipe takes about 3 - 3 1/2 hours, but I've included the option to let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge so you don't have to spend so much time preparing them in the morning. The cinnamon rolls are best eaten just after coming out of the oven, but will also be delicious stored in the fridge and reheated the next day. Just make sure to spoon over the glaze immediately before serving. —la domestique
For the dough
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon whole milk
3 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
(or 1/4 ounce pack) active dry yeast
freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
unsalted butter, room temperature (soft)
vegetable oil for greasing
Filling and Glaze
unsalted butter, room temperature (soft and spreadable)
Heat the water and 1/2 cup of the milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat until warm. (The liquid should be no warmer than a baby’s bottle.) If it gets too hot, pour it into another container and stir until just warm.
Pour 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and nutmeg into a large bowl and whisk to combine evenly. Break the butter into small pieces and use a spatula to stir it into the flour mixture until the texture is crumbly and the butter is well combined with the flour. Pour over the warm milk and water, stirring until combined, then beat in the vanilla and one egg for a few seconds until the mixture is fully incorporated.
Add more of the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky. It should be soft and easy to handle. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Shape into a ball. Grease a large bowl with oil and add the dough, turning to grease all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with butter. Gently punch down the dough, then roll it out on an oiled surface to an 18 x 10 inch rectangle. (If you rub the countertop down with vegetable oil the dough won’t stick and you won’t have to add any extra flour.) For the filling, spread the 8 tablespoons softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on the long side farthest from you. Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter, and then the raisins.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting at the long side of the rectangle closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log, toward the 1 inch clean border on the other side. Using a knife, cut the log into 12 pieces, each 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the cinnamon rolls in the greased baking dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Alternatively place the rolls into the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and put them straight in the fridge to rise overnight. Remove the rolls from the fridge the next morning and let them finish rising in a warm place for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, while you heat the oven and continue with the next step.)
Whisk together 1 egg and 1 teaspoon milk and brush lightly over the top of cinnamon rolls. Bake the cinnamon rolls on the center rack for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly. Whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and milk to make the glaze. Drizzle over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.