These rolls are delicious. Really. I've never had anybody express complete indifference about them and, even after all the other foods have been rejected, my family has never stopped eating the leftovers. The recipe is based on a brioche recipe by Ina Garden (The Barefoot Contessa) and is typical of the butter and egg enriched breads and pastries that we enjoyed in France.
That being said, the recipe is perfect for breakfast because it requires an overnight refrigerated rise. You can make the dough in the evening (our summer nights are so cool that I love spending them in the kitchen) and work with the smooth and stretchy dough right out of the refrigerator. I usually divide the dough in half and make one half with nuts and one without. In order to further placate the tastes of my guests, I make a simple cream cheese frosting and serve it on the side. I double the recipe - a job that my Pro Kitchen-aid mixer can barely handle.
This the one recipe that I hope my kids remember when they grown up. The smell alone ought to evoke enough memory to keep them asking for the recipe...
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
1/2 cup warm water
1 package of yeast
3 Tablespoons sugar
6 eggs (beaten slightly)
4 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened (1 stick is for the filling)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a great big bowl that you get get your hands into, sprinkle the sugar and yeast over the warm water and let sit until bubbly and active. (I assign watching this transformation to my eight year old - it never ceases to be a magical event to me.)
Add the beaten eggs, 2 cups of the flour and the salt. Beat (using the paddle attachment) or a good stiff wooden spoon) for five minutes. This helps develop the gluten in the flour. Add 2 more cups of flour and beat for five more minutes. (Stop now and then to admire your muscles if you are making my hand - and to let the machine cool down if using the mixer.)
Add the butter in big chunks and mix for a few more minutes until combined. It may look, at this point, as if you have ruined the dough. It may look greasy and poorly combined. Don't worry! Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of flour over the mess and switch to the dough hook. Knead until the dough comes together in a moist pile. It will be wetter than traditional bread dough.
Plop into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for the night.
The next morning (after coffee!) roll the dough into a thing rectangle on a floured board or counter. Thinner is better but thicker tastes just fine too. Brush will melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, nuts and brown sugar and roll tightly into a long log. Seal the ends by pinching the sides into the body of the log.
Using a serrated knife, slice in 12 equal pieces and stand on end in a buttered baking dish. Place in a warm place for about 1/2 an hour (now is when you should get out of your pajamas) and then bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and lightly browned where the rolls touch. Let cool if you can! Serve with frosting on the side and with a plate of fresh fruit and more coffee.