These are the cinnamon rolls she makes in Chapter 11 of “Entanglement.”
I worked on this recipe for months, making adjustments till it came out just right.
Perfect Cinnamon Rolls:
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup dry milk powder
2 tsp salt
2 ½ TB cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup water
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
In a large mixing bowl, pour 1 cup warm water. Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsp yeast over the water. Sprinkle 1/3 cup white sugar over the yeast.
While it’s proofing:
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup light brown sugar, 2 ½ TB cinnamon, and 1 tsp nutmeg. Set aside.
Butter a jelly-roll pan. Set aside.
Put ½ stick of butter and 4 oz of cream cheese in a mixing bowl (to soften). Set aside.
Put ½ stick of butter in a small bowl (to soften). Set aside.
In a different small bowl, put ½ stick of butter. Microwave on 50% power till melted (usually about 30-60 seconds).
Now that the yeast has proofed, pour into the bowl the melted butter, 4 ½ cups flour, 1/3 cup dry milk powder, 2 tsp salt, and 3 eggs. Mix well with a spoon (or your hands). When it’s looking like a dough, turn it out on a floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth, adding just enough flour to keep it from getting sticky. When it’s good, let it sit for a minute while you wash out the mixing bowl it was in. After you’ve washed and dried it, butter it. Then pick up the dough, put it in the bowl, gently rub some butter on the top of the dough, and drape a slightly damp cloth over the bowl. Let it rise until doubled (30 minutes to an hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is). If you have time, gently fold it in half, pat it into a round shape (preserving as much of its fluffiness as possible) and let it rise again. This second rise will make the rolls lighter and flakier, but the rolls will still be wonderful if you don’t have time for it.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the ½ stick of softened butter evenly on the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly across the buttered dough, being sure to go to the shorter edges.
Roll up the dough into a long cylinder. Cut it in half, then cut each half in half, etc., till you have 16 rolls. Place each roll on the buttered jelly roll pan. Let the rolls rise for at least 30 minutes. (Use this time to start cleaning up the mess.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (it adjusts to 375 in a convection oven).
Put the rolls in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, add 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ tsp vanilla, and a dash of salt to the softened butter and cream cheese in the mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy.
Serve warm, with frosting melting on top.