Sure, it's easy enough to walk into a mall and shell out $3 to $4 for a classic cinnamon roll at Cinnabon, but what if you could make a version at home that was better than the original and lower in calories? It sounds too good to be true.
But Devin Alexander, author of Fast Food Fix and the Biggest Loser series of cookbooks, has done just that. She says:
"My version of the Cinnabon has also become the recipe in the book [Fast Food Fix] that I’ve used to prove to skeptics that, in fact, these [fast-food] recipes can be duplicated to satisfy cravings with a fraction of the fat and calories of their original counterparts. Though I believe many of the [other] recipes [in the book] truly duel the originals, this one happens to travel much better than many since it doesn't need to be hot. The rolls are just fine if they sit at room temperature for several hours."
On top of the perks of being able to bring these cinnamon rolls to, say, a picnic, without diminishing their taste, they also have fewer calories (442 calories per serving versus Cinnabon's 880 calories) and less fat (a mere 6 grams of fat versus a whopping 36).
Now do we have your attention?
We thought so.
Give these a shot over the weekend and get ready to enjoy some freshly baked, ooey-gooey goodness on a lazy Sunday morning without the guilt.
What's the Secret?
While The Daily Meal was fed the usual spiel about "proprietary information" and "special equipment," we did manage to wrangle out a couple of decent tips from Cinnabon.
Secret #1: Quality Ingredients
OK, this one is admittedly a no-brainer, but when you're making a cinnamon roll, you have to make sure the cinnamon's damn good. Seriously. Cinnabon's founders scoured the islands of Indonesia to find the highest-quality cinnamon. That's no small feat, since according to the CIA Handbook, there are 17,508 of them.
They even bothered to come up with a name for their special cinnamon, Makara® Cinnamon, that's also a registered trademark, as you can see here.
What to Look for at the Store
So, when you buy cinnamon at the store, what should you look for? Ideally, look for whole sticks, which will have retained more flavor and aroma than their ground counterparts. Opt for "cassia" cinnamon from Indonesia for the closest flavor to Makara®, since it has a more complex, bittersweet flavor than the other variety, "Ceylon," which comes from Sri Lanka. Then, chop it into pieces and grind it at home using a coffee grinder just before using.
Secret #2: Treat Your Ingredients with Respect
Chances are you're not going to use up all of that expensive cinnamon at once. Store the leftovers away from heat, humidity, and light, which can rob spices of their volatile oils over time, taking their potency with them.
Secret #3: Frost Just Before Serving
While Alexander's rolls do transport well, it's hard to beat having them fresh out of the oven. That's the best time to frost them, so that the frosting melts into the buns.
Alexander advises having a plastic dough scraper or brittle plastic spatula to help get all the dough out of the mixing bowl without missing an ounce. (This will make baking in general easier for you.) To that end, we'd also suggest an electric stand mixer with a dough hook.
When a recipe says something like, "Dust a work surface with flour," how exactly do you do that? While we wouldn't recommend trying this recipe if you're a first-time baker, if you do insist, we would like to offer this one tip.
The writer of this article once had trouble with this very aspect of baking. Then, one day, an instructor at culinary school counseled thus: Take a handful of flour, and pretend you're throwing dice.
Even Steven, every time. A bit messy, but hey, that's baking — you can't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
And Before You Start
Know your oven. Every oven is different. Some ovens run hotter than their stated temperatures, while some run cooler. If you haven't tested yours out before, borrow or buy an oven thermometer and see whether yours runs North or South of the dial. And ovens also have hot spots, too, so you may have to rotate baked goods halfway through their cooking time to ensure even cooking.
So, armed with a few basic shopping and baking tips, it's time to delve in.
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