Monday, May 6, 2013

Quickbread Cinnamon Rolls with Walnuts & Golden Syrup

I can't do yeast bread. I should practice more often. I should make sure the yeast I have hasn't expired every time I try to use it. But really I just prefer quickbreads. They're a sure thing. Baking powder and baking soda and that's all the leavening you need.

My great-grandmother, Mamaw, who lived in a tiny Louisiana town until she peacefully passed out of this world at the age of 101, was renowned for her yeast rolls. These perfect, light, flaky things were like a cross between a biscuit and a dinner roll, just incredible. We used to eat them by the basketful at dinners in her little white clapboard house on the sweet potato farm that was run by her husband, then their son (my great uncle), and his son after that. My dad (Mamaw's grandson) and his sisters and cousins still speak with reverence of the times she would make those rolls and cover them in a homemade, cocoa-based chocolate sauce. Then they became *chocolate rolls*, and were apparently the most delectable things any of them had ever tasted. I never had the chocolate version, but Mamaw's rolls original-recipe-style were heaven on earth. My mom does a pretty authentic rendition of Mamaw's rolls, and my aunt can make a delicious version of the chocolate rolls. But something about Mamaw's method made those rolls irreplaceable.
quickbread cinnamon rolls with walnuts & golden syrup @ SouthernSpoon blog
quick, delicious cinnamon rolls with walnuts and golden syrup
 I didn't get the good-at-yeast-rolls gene. But I love dinner rolls and breakfast rolls of all sorts. So when I saw a recipe on Vintage Mixer for one-hour cinnamon rolls, and realized they didn't require yeast, I had to experiment. I made a smaller batch and adjusted a few ingredients, making them less sugary-sweet but imparting the rich flavor of golden syrup. Golden syrup is a British staple, and is readily available here in the Antipodean colonies. It's beautifully thick and amber-colored, with a slightly roasted, almost buttery flavor. You can probably find golden syrup in many North American grocery stores, but, if it's unavailable, maple syrup or agave syrup will do fine. These cinnamon rolls are incredible, delicious and flaky just like their yeast-roll counterparts, but without the stress of using the yeast correctly, waiting for dough to rise, etc. I've found the perfect breakfast sweet roll recipe, and I think Mamaw would approve. Thank you Vintage Mixer! Play around with filling combinations to change it up (as if you'll tire of the perfect combo of cinnamon and walnuts), but this simple quick-bread base is a keeper.
quickbread cinnamon rolls with walnuts & golden syrup @ SouthernSpoon blog

I used walnuts in these cinnamon rolls, but pecans would also work well, as per the original Vintage Mixer recipe. I halved the recipe and still managed to make eight smaller (2-3 inches wide, 1.5 inches thick) cinnamon rolls, and they fit perfectly into an 7-inch pie pan. I also rolled the dough thinner, to about 1/4 inch, which allowed for a more cinnamon-filling to roll ratio. If you like a thicker cinnamon roll you can roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness, though this will yield fewer rolls. Double the ingredients for a larger batch, cutting the rolls a little thicker (2 inch increments instead of 1 inch), baking the rolls in a 9-inch square pyrex dish or metal baking tray, and adding 5-10 minutes to the baking time to ensure the middle rolls cook through. These rolls can also be prepared the day before, covered and stored in the fridge overnight, and baked fresh the next morning.

Bake these fast and easy quickbread-based cinnamon rolls for birthday mornings, holidays, or any time you feel like treating yourself and your loved ones to a sweet breakfast treat.

Quickbread Cinnamon Rolls with Walnuts & Golden Syrup
makes 8 (2-3 inch) cinnamon rolls
adapted from Vintage Mixer

Quickbread Dough
1 1/2 cups flour (I used a 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
small pinch of freshly ground sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (or extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup milk (any fat content is fine)
2 tablespoons golden syrup (or maple syrup, or agave syrup)

Cinnamon-Walnut Filling
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup coursely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of freshly ground sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (or extra virgin olive oil)

Golden Syrup Icing
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon golden syrup (or maple syrup, or agave syrup)
2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
1 teaspoon milk (or any dairy-free milk)

First make the dough. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the melted butter (or olive oil), milk, and golden syrup. As the golden syrup is so thick, I found it easier to microwave the butter, milk, and golden syrup together for about 15 seconds, then whisk them together. Pour the liquid mixture over the flour mixture, and stir well to combine. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 2-3 minutes, until dough is smooth. Place dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or the freezer for 10 minutes).

Make the filling while the dough chills. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and sea salt. Pour 1 tablespoon of the melted butter (or olive oil) over the cinnamon sugar mixture, and stir to combine.

When the dough has chilled a bit, remove from fridge and place on a very lightly floured countertop. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness for skinnier cinnamon rolls, or to 1/2 inch thickness for thicker cinnamon rolls. I rolled mine out to about a 7x10-inch rectangle. Spread 1 tablespoon melted butter (or olive oil) evenly over the dough. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top of the buttered dough, and press the mixture in lightly with your hands. Starting from the long end, carefully and tightly roll the dough.

Slice the rolled rope of dough into 8 sections (so that each section is about 1 inch thick). Place the rolls into a greased 7-inch round cake tin or pie dish, arranging them so that the seams of the rolls are facing toward each other and not towards the outside of the pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C/ 425F for about 18-22 minutes, until the middle roll looks done and they are beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for a couple of minutes before drizzling the icing over the tops. Serve warm.

For the icing, combine 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon golden syrup in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for about 10-15 seconds on high. The golden syrup should now be less viscous and closer to maple-syrup consistency. Stir in the two tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar, and, if necessary, thin out with 1 teaspoon of milk (or your choice of dairy-free milk). Stir well, then drizzle over the warm rolls, spreading the mixture around the tops a bit to evenly coat the rolls.

*Preparation tip: if you are clumsy with transferring ingredients back and forth across various countertops in your kitchen, make sure to use metal bowls so that when you drop them, you only have to vacuum up brown sugar and walnuts, not broken glass:
the hubs kindly vacuumed up the cinnamon-sugar-walnut-melted butter mess
while I attempted to finish the cinnamon rolls with minimal ingredient casualties

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