Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever figure this whole grown up work/life balance thing out. The last few months have been crazy with work, freelance and managing three blogs (PS, you should all go check out the other two) but also so rewarding with a promotion to Senior Designer (!) and getting to work on some great projects with my clients. I think it’s easier to become a workaholic when you love what you do, but the constant deadlines, lack of sleep and having to be creatively switched on all the time is a little draining.
Yet still, somehow, baking is like a never-fail mood enhancer. I woke up bright and early on Sunday and started making dough. While kneading, I didn’t think about all the other crap I had to do, and while making the filling with the warm scent of the spices filled the air, I resisted the urge to check my email again. Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards, right?
The second recipe in my very spicy birthday week is a twist on one of my all-time favourites from my archives, originally published in Bon Appetit by Molly from Orangette, whose blog I’ve been reading for as long as I’ve had my own. I’ve made it a few times over the years and decided that it would be delicious with chai flavours in addition to the cinnamon. And oh boy, it was!
This time I made a very simple cinnamon glaze to accompany the rolls, but the cream cheese version from the original would be absolutely delicious here as well. Make sure you have heaps of friends around for brunch when you make these, because the recipe makes about 18 rolls and they taste best the day they’re made. Serve with lots of warm chai, of course.
Chai Spiced Rolls
Adapted from here
• 1 cup milk
• 45g unsalted butter
• 3 ½ cups plain flour
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 ¼ teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Vegetable oil spray
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon cloves
• 55g unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 ½ cups icing sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1-2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the dough, combine milk and butter in a microwave safe cup or bowl. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until butter melts and mixture is warm. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast and salt. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add remaining 2 ½ cups flour and beat on low speed until flour is absorbed. If dough is very sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, adding more flour if sticky, for about 8 minutes. Form into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl with non-stick spray. Transfer dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then a tea towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
For the filling, mix brown sugar and all spices in a medium sized bowl. Punch the dough down and transfer to a floured work surface. Roll out a 30x40cm rectangle. Spread butter over the dough, leaving 1.5cm border. Sprinkle the spiced sugar evenly over the butter. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a log. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with a thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices, 1.5cm wide.
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with non-stick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging with cut side up. Cover with plastic wrap, then a tea towel. Let dough rise for 40-45 minutes, until almost doubled in volume.
Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 190°C (375°F). Bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are golden. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn rolls right side up.
To make the glaze, sift icing sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Add more milk if needed until glaze is thick and pourable. Pour over rolls and leave to set for 10 minutes.