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In Our Kitchen: Recipe for Overnight No-Knead Challah Cinnamon Rolls

Both the cinnamon roll dough and the cook benefit from resting in this recipe.

ILEANA MORALES | Special to the Times

Both the cinnamon roll dough and the cook benefit from resting in this recipe.

My resolution in 2015 was to eat more doughnuts. I totally followed through — even frying up an apple cider version at home — and it was a happy year.

For 2016, a year that I hope is as golden as the previous one, I intend to bake more cinnamon rolls. Perhaps intimidated by yeast, glazes and having a whole tray of sugary rolls in my house, I hadn't made them at home until I decided to play host for Christmas. My in-laws flew in from Iowa, and my parents, sisters and cousin drove up from Miami to join us for the holiday, so how could I not make them cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning?

An overnight recipe seemed like the best bet. Half the work is done the night before baking. This has the benefit of making fresh homemade rolls more manageable to pull off for guests, and this long resting time results in a better and more complex-tasting dough.

The more time I spend in our kitchen, the more I realize how many things benefit from resting: cookie dough, pie dough, popover batter, yeasted cinnamon roll dough and, of course, the cook. By morning, you'll be excited to roll out the pliant ball of dough and dust it with cinnamon sugar. This recipe adds cardamom into the mix for another boost of flavor, but you can skip it if you don't have it on hand. I can't stop sprinkling in the sultry spice anywhere cinnamon is called for in a recipe.

On the morning you want the cinnamon rolls, just keep in mind that after forming the dough into rolls, they'll need to hang out for another couple hours. They need their rest, too. In the meantime, make French press coffee, turn up your favorite playlist and make the sour cream glaze. It's super easy glaze to make, and the tangy sour cream adds depth to the sweet stuff you'll drizzle over the warm rolls.

These are so worth the effort. My little sister kept going back to the bowl of sour cream glaze and dragging her finger on the sides of the bowl for another taste. My mom said, "Who needs Knaus Berry Farm?", a shop in Homestead where people line up for hours to get their hands on cinnamon rolls. And then she took another bite. A high compliment. If that doesn't bring me good fortune in the new year, I don't know what will.

Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, Say hello at


Overnight No-Knead Challah Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons instant or active dry yeast

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

¾ cup water

cup olive oil

¼ cup honey

For the filling:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

cup sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

Pinch of salt

For the glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

¼ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Mix together the eggs, water, olive oil and honey in a smaller bowl. Dump the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until a wet, sticky dough comes together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit on your kitchen counter for 10 minutes.

Uncover the bowl and grab an edge of the dough, lift it up and fold it over itself to the center. Turn the bowl a bit and repeat around the entire ball of dough, grabbing an edge and folding it into the center. Flip the dough so that the folds and seams are on the bottom. Cover bowl again with plastic wrap; let sit for 30 minutes.

Repeat the folding and flipping of the dough four more times. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours. (If you rest the dough longer than a day, you risk overproofing it.)

In the morning, it's time to roll out the dough and turn it into cinnamon rolls. Start by greasing a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Stir the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt together in a small bowl. Lightly sprinkle a flat surface with flour and roll the dough into a rectangular shape about 18 inches by 12 by ½-inch thick. Brush the melted butter generously over the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Starting from the long end, tightly roll the dough into a log. Slice the log into 12 or so pieces and arrange them in the baking dish. (If you have leftover melted butter or cinnamon sugar, feel free to rub it over the top of the rolls at this point.) Cover the dish with a tea towel and let the rolls rise until puffy and almost doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven. Bake the rolls until golden and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract and salt. It will look like too much powdered sugar at first, but keep whisking and it will begin to absorb the sour cream. It should be thick but still pourable. If the glaze is too thick, add a splash of milk. If the glaze is too thin, add a bit more sugar.

Drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy immediately.

Makes about 12.

Source: Recipe adapted from Yossy Arefi on, who based it off the challah recipe in Jessica Fechtor's book Stir.

In Our Kitchen: Recipe for Overnight No-Knead Challah Cinnamon Rolls 01/04/16 [Last modified: Monday, January 4, 2016 1:47pm]
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