As far as Christmas traditions go, I don't have many, but it does give me a yearly excuse to make cinnamon rolls and enjoy them right out of the oven. This recipe make light fluffy rolls that are good with or without frosting. Add a cup of tea, and enjoy.
YIELD: 10-12 rolls
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2-3 hours
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg
½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups pastry flour (plus extra, as needed)
2 packets quick rise yeast*
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons cinnamon
FOR THE FROSTING
4 tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
*I use two packets of yeast because I have found that my baked goods don't rise right with only one. But if one works typically for you, just use one packet.
Place all dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until the dough begins to come together, adding more flour as necessary until the dough makes a ball that is soft and not too sticky. *This dough can be made by hand if you don't have a mixer, it just requires a bit more kneading by hand.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it's almost double in size, about 1 hour.
To make the filling: Combine the nuts, butter, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
After the dough has risen, punch down and knead a few times. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle.
Spread the cinnamon-sugar filling evenly over the dough.
Beginning with the top long edge, roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into 10 or 12 equal slices. Place the slices in a greased baking pan, cover, and let rise for 1 hour more. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the rolls for 30 to 35 minutes, until they're golden brown.
To ice, whisk together the cream cheese and sugar. Add milk as needed and whisk. Drizzle icing over the warm rolls, and enjoy immediately!