I’m a fairly competent baker, turning out pie crusts, quick breads, cookies, muffins, tarts, quiches and more with aplomb, but the art of making yeast breads eludes me. There are a number of reasons — yeast can be quite temperamental (sometimes frothing properly; other times not), the dough requires a long time to rise, and, last but not least, my father-in-law is excellent at making yeast breads, and I’d rather just have him make rolls for me. Ha!
My most memorable (and miserable) attempt to work with yeast was six years ago, when I had a craving for cinnamon rolls and decided that homemade would be just the ticket. By the time the dough finished rising, it was, like, 24 hours after I’d first had the craving, and the resulting roll could have been used as a doorstop because it was so hard and dry. I’m not usually one to give up, but I decided that I couldn’t be good at everything (I don’t want to, like, intimidate people with my perfection — JUST KIDDING! ;)), and henceforth bought my cinnamon rolls from my friend the Pillsbury Doughboy.
I thought my kitchen would be yeast-free forever until I came across this cinnamon roll muffin recipe on The Merlin Menu earlier this year. I bookmarked it as something to make for Christmas brunch, and today, I took the recipe for a test drive. I. LOVE. IT! Unlike most yeast bread recipes, this one doesn’t require much rising time — putting this together takes as much time as it does to prepare traditional muffins, yet you still get the wonderful chewiness of a yeast bread. The muffins really do taste like cinnamon rolls, right down to the gooey, cinnamony filling. I’ll be remaking this on Christmas morning, for sure. I must say thank you to Ron, the cook and writer behind The Merlin Menu, for my first successful attempt at baking a yeast bread. (If you recall the spaghetti and meatball post, that was also one of Ron’s recipes.)
Makes 10-12 muffins
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast — found in the baking aisle at the grocery store
- 2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F) — I don’t own a thermometer, so I just warmed the milk on the stovetop until I saw little bubbles
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 vanilla bean, cut open and seeds scraped into the mixture*
- 1 large egg
*If you can’t find vanilla beans, use 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoon milk or cream
In a large bowl, combine flour, and salt. Combine the warm milk and sugar in a measuring cup, then dissolve the yeast into the mixture and let it sit for 15 minutes to “proof.”
After the 15 minutes, the milk and yeast mixture should be foamy. If not, start over.
Stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Let dough rest for 20 minutes. While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl with a fork, until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar, and mixture is crumbly. Divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula).
Really, press the cinnamon/sugar mixture into the batter and swirl it around, unless you want to clean a gooey mess from the bottom of your oven!
Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.
Let the muffins cool for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the milk and powdered sugar together to make icing. Drizzle the icing over the muffins and serve warm.
Also, the house smelled delectable while these were baking! I dare you not to get into the holiday spirit when you make these. 🙂