Did I say low fat or light cinnamon rolls? Yep, there is no butter in the filling. Also, if you are a baker who has yeast-phobia, this is a quick and awesome recipe. Source: The Best of America’s Test Kitchen (2007).
I have made this recipe twice — I still cannot believe how easy and convenient it is for the rolls to depend on baking powder and baking soda. Just make sure the milk/vinegar mixture does not come into direct contact with either, or you’d have a real fun science project!
Substituting buttermilk: Buttermilk can be expensive. For every cup of regular milk, you can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare an 8 inch square baking pan by greasing with butter or vegetable oil. (If you are conscious of how much grease you use, simply use a paper towel to soak and dab the grease around the pan)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
For the Filling: Mix all ingredients and set aside.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup butter milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I find the salt in salted butter is very minute, so salted butter works too — skip the 1/2 tsp salt if using salted butter)
For the dough: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and 2 tbsp of the melted butter together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 30 seconds. (Make sure you don’t overwork the dough or it will become tough. Use extra flour if needed to work the dough.)
Pat the dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle (with the heel of your palm), then brush it with melted butter. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch of a border. (So, it will look sort of like a photo frame when, except it’s sugar instead of a picture. See photo.) Press the filling firmly into the dough.
Carefully pick up the long end closest to you (with bare hands or a spatula) and roll the dough, press lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal.
Cut the log into thirds. From each third, cut further into thirds. Flatten with your hand each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place. The book suggests using dental floss for cutting the dough, but I find table knife works well if you’re not particular about losing some filling — nylon string would work better than dental floss.
Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan (3 rows of 3 rolls). Cover with tin foil and bake for about 12 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the edges of the rolls are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes longer.
Cooling: Loose the rolls with a spatula. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the rolls onto the plate. Place a wire rack over the plate and flip the rolls onto the rack. (Sort of like flipping a cake method) Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes before icing.
2 tbsp light cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp buttermilk
3/4 cup icing sugar
While the rolls are cooling, whisk cream cheese and buttermilk together in a large non-reactive bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the icing sugar over the mixture, then whisk until a smooth icing forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon the icing evenly over the rolls and serve. (If you were me, I would just pour the icing over the rolls, sitting on a wire rack over a cookie sheet… and eat immediately! YUM!)