I was intrigued by the thought of making sourdough cinnamon rolls. The pictures of Billowy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls looked so good that I had to try it. It made a ton of cinnamon rolls, so I decided to halve the recipe, which would still yield between 8 and 12 rolls.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just make them any old time. They took 36 hours to build up. The first step was to combine sourdough starter with additional flour and water and let it rest for about 12 hours. I’m not entirely sure how this step is different from just feeding sourdough starter. After the mixture is doubled, you make the actual dough.
The dough included butter, eggs (I used 2 for the half batch because 2 eggs were the perfect weight), honey, vanilla, mashed potato, buttermilk or milk (I used 2% milk), flour, salt, and the levain/sponge/starter you made the night before. You mix together the liquid ingredients (except for milk) with the paddle attachment for a stand mixer, and then switch to the dough hook to mix in the milk, sourdough mixture, flour, and salt. [You could also do this by hand – it would just be very sticky.] I forgot to add the salt at this point. Once the dough has come together, you let it rest for 20 minutes; mine actually rested for 30 since I was doing something else. Next, you mix it for an additional 2 or 3 minutes. This is where I remembered that I’d forgotten to add salt, so I mixed it an extra minute to try to get the salt incorporated well.
I put the dough in a greased bowl and let it rest for a while longer. I folded the dough once, after 3.5 hours. I let it rise for about 10 hours total, but it was more than doubled by the time I actually made the cinnamon rolls. It was easy to roll out the dough.
I doubled the amount of cinnamon in the filling, and omitted the raisins. You melt together all the ingredients (including cream) for the filling on the stove, bring it to a boil, and cool it. I did not cool it as much as I probably should have, so as I rolled up the cinnamon rolls, the filling was pushed forward rather than encased in the roll. The dough was very slack and did not roll up particularly easily. I actually found the entire process to be a pretty big mess. The rolls did not really look like cinnamon rolls – they looked like flat blobs of dough. I put them on a baking sheet and put them in the fridge to proof overnight.
They were supposed to have risen by double by the time I got up in morning, but they hadn’t. I pulled them out of the fridge and put them in a briefly warmed oven for an hour to try to get them to proof. Although they were at room temperature, I baked them at 400F anyway.
They did actually look like cinnamon rolls after they’d baked, although they were not particularly pretty. Since I’d had them out of the fridge for a while in an attempt to get them to rise, they didn’t need to bake as long. (I took their temperature and it’s possible that they overbaked, even.) I took them out after 21 minutes. I didn’t have time to make the cream cheese icing, so I just mixed together some powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make a quick glaze for them.
These were definitely the fluffiest, softest cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made. They had a wonderful texture. Unfortunately, I could tell that they were made from sourdough. The sour taste wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely there. I think that the cream cheese frosting that I should have made to go on these would have masked the sour taste, or would have made it blend in. The cinnamon wasn’t as strong as I had hoped, even though I’d added twice as much as the recipe called for.
Part of me feels like I should give these another chance, but I’m not sure if I’ll try them again. If I do, I’ll have to be extra sure to not let the dough rise too much or ferment too long. I also wonder if trying to make them rise in the morning made them a little more sour, too. I’ll probably wait a while before I make these again, but if you’ve got a mild starter, this would probably be worth a try because they had a fantastic texture.