These cinnamon rolls take inspiration from Asian flavors and bread making technique. Asian milk bread is made using tangzhong, aka a flour and liquid roux that adds moisture to the dough without compromising its structure and is responsible for these rolls' amazingly moist, fluffy texture. The citrus flavor is gentle but manages to brighten the overall taste of the bread, and the addition of spices lends a warm, woody, rustic quality.
Dough recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour's Japanese Milk Bread Rolls recipe —mary-ann
Start with the roux by whisking together water, 3 tablespoons milk, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in a small saucepan, cooking until a thick paste forms. Remove it from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) to cool.
Once the roux has cooled, mix in the fresh grated orange zest, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/4 cup whole milk, and beaten egg.
In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, dry whole milk powder, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and instant yeast.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a rough dough forms, then dump it onto a floured work surface (or continue in the stand mixer). Knead in the 4 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time, and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be somewhat sticky. Form it into a ball, place it into a bowl, cover, and let it rest 1 hour to rise.
Meanwhile, prep the filling by stirring together the 2 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, Chinese five spice powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Once the dough has approximately doubled, deflate it and transfer it onto an oiled work surface and, with oiled hands or a flour-dusted rolling pin, gently press or roll the dough into a roughly 6-inch by 20-inch rectangle.
Spread on the filling in an even layer, leaving about a half-inch margin along the edges. Starting from one of the longer sides, roll up the dough so you have a 20-inch-long log, and cut it carefully into 12 equal pieces. Arrange them side-by-side, cut side up, in a greased baking dish (gently fixing their shape if it was warped when cutting). Cover the dish, and let the rolls rest and rise for 25-30 min until puffed up.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the glaze by stirring the 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice with the lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk. Refrigerate glaze until use.
Once risen, bake the rolls for 30 min or until they are golden and spring back when touched. Let them cool slightly, and drizzle the glaze over top before serving.