On Mel’s Kitchen Cafe , a recent post: How to make cinnamon rolls ahead of time detailed Mel’s pointers on how to have fresh baked cinnamon rolls in the morning … without the baker getting up in the wee hours or staying up all night! As she noted, it is an oft asked question around Christmas as families love to have fresh cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
One commenter, thinking out loud, wondered about a cold rise (refrigerated rise) for the second rise noting that she did that with bread. I do that with bread as well and I even made The Clever Carrot’s Overnight Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls . I used the cold rise, then 1-2 hour warm up but she notes a freeze-thaw-bake from the fridge option as well.
I decided to try a cold rise – this is after the bulk rise and shaping, i.e. mix the dough, let it rise, make the rolls, put them in a pan and then directly into the fridge. I did this yesterday and recorded the steps in an Instagram story. If I’d been thinking ahead, I would have taken an extra set of photos with my DSLR as the light was iffy and then dark. Hindsight. So, all of these but the last photo in row 4 and the final money shot are from my phone exactly at the time things progressed.
Why is my phone always sticky? (Say that like Captain Jack Sparrow says “Why is the rum always gone”?)
Here we go!
The recipe I made was Mel’s Kitchen Café Lemon Sticky Buns … same buttermilk dough as her buttermilk cinnamon rolls except lemonized. Additionally, I used 1/4 white whole wheat, 3/4 white and 3 T of potato flour. And, I added blueberries making them Lemon-Blueberry Sticky Buns.
Normal mix, rise until doubled, roll out and add filling. Of note, I looked at the link in the recipe to Mel’s tutorial on working with yeast . I believe that for years, I over floured yeast breads and rolls. And recently I make mostly high moisture breads so I decided to brush up.
I believe this batch was floured perfectly.
And as I write that and as I went through this step by step, it occurred to me all of the variables that exist in a bake like this: how much flour, condition of the yeast used, kitchen/rise location temperature, amount of kneading and ???
My advice to any reading this that intend to try this method or any method is to pay attention to the steps and to how things look and feel. It is not going to go the same way every time.
After rolling and cutting, I divided the rolls with the intent of 3 scenarios:
1. Normal warm rise and bake
2. Cold rise and directly into hot oven with no warm up
3. Cold rise and 30-40 minute room temp warm up before baking
On the left, the result from option 1. A good bake, but it did collapse a bit as it cooled.
The middle photo is the cold rise candidates after 8 hours in the fridge. Of note, the round pan was on the bottom shelf – the warmest shelf. The loaf pan was on a top shelf – colder.
IF, I was letting these rise overnight and thought it might be 10-12 hours from fridge to bake, I’d make sure to put them on the coldest top shelf. I think the round pan, left too much longer, would have over risen (over proofed) – just a guess … and again, these are my conditions. For whatever reason, all of my baked goods – commercial yeast or wild yeast – rise well even in my cool house.
On the right, the cold-cold after the bake. They really rose up. I might have even overbaked a smidge. There was no collapsing as they cooled.
The left photo is the one I really wish I had from my big camera and low light lens. The crumb of the cold rise/cold bake is fluffy, almost fluffier than I prefer. But soft and full of good flavor.
Middle photo is the cold rise with a 35 minute room temperature rest before baking. Not quite as much oven rise as the cold/cold, but it started a bit less having come from the colder fridge shelf. You can see the crumb in the top roll that I split. In reality it was very close to the cold/cold rolls.
Conclusion: well, my real conclusion is that this would need to be tested again and by others and by each individual baker and NOT for the first time on Christmas Eve!!! But seriously, I think the cold rise and cold bake is a viable option. The other option which I believe will work is to freeze the shaped rolls, then put them in the fridge the night before baking and right into a hot oven in the morning as outlined in the Freeze/Thaw option of The Clever Carrot’s Overnight Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls .
The money shot … YUM!