Sugar and Spice

A while back, I discovered that I was yearning for cinnamon rolls.  Not liking the calorie count of most recipes I found, I turned to one of my favorite and most trusted recipe sources: Cook’s Illustrated magazine, this time Spring 2008’s “Light Recipes.”

This was the second time I had made cinnamon rolls, and I have to admit, I find the process really satisfying.  Creating a soft dough, kneading it, waiting for it to rise, and then rolling it out, spreading a sweet and spicy filling, then rolling, slicing, and baking.  I really think it’s one of the easier things to make that results in semi-professional looking baked goods.

That all being said, I guess I would say that I found this recipe only “pretty good.”  I’m not even blaming the recipe.  After all, the author of the recipe specifically mentioned that she got a “soft, pillowy texture.”  Mine were much closer to the texture of bread than what I would consider a cinnamon roll, and I’m not quite sure what I did to achieve that.  Possibly too much kneading?  Too much flour during the kneading process?

Still, I’m pretty sure I’ll be making these again.  I definitely agree that the flavor was great, just that I need to work on the texture.

Guilt-Free Cinnamon Rolls (12 rolls, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)


  • 1 1/3 c. warm skim milk (110 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1 pkg. rapid-rise or instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp. light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. FOR THE DOUGH: Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  When preheated, turn it off.  Grease large bowl with nonstick cooking spray.  Coat 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix milk, syrup, and melted butter together.  Mix flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl.  Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well.  Stir until dough becomes shaggy and difficult to stir.  Turn out onto heavily floured work surface and knead until dough forms cohesive ball and is smooth, about 10 minutes.  Place into greased bowl.  Cover and let rest in warm oven for 10 minutes.
  3. FOR THE FILLING: While dough is resting, mix sugars, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter in medium bowl until incorporated.
  4. TO MAKE THE ROLLS: On lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 18 by 12-inch rectangle with long side facing you.  Sprinkle sugar mixture over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges, then lightly press sugar into dough.  Starting at edge nearest you, roll up dough.  Brush border with water, then press dough to seal.
  5. Using knife, slice dough into 12 rounds, then place in prepared pan with cut side up.  Cover pan with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray and return to warm oven until rolls have nearly doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove plastic wrap and bake until rolls are deep brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
  7. FOR THE ICING: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla together in small both until smooth.  Remove pan from oven, turn rolls out onto rack, and flip them right-side up.  Cool 10 minutes, then spread icing over rolls.  Serve hot or warm.

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