My love for all things lemon took a turn for the worst when I attempted a chocolate citrus adaptation of this recipe. Everything seemed to be going so well, I rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar that went into the dough, and I replaced the cinnamon/brown sugar filling with orange zest, granulated sugar, and shaved chocolate. Big mistake.
Everything sank to the bottom of the muffin tin. I was left with a dozen, semi-naked, embarrassed rolls of dough. The small amount of chocolate that managed to cling to the surface of each roll just looked sad and defeated. Good try, chocolate. Good try.
(I heard the bottle of cinnamon trying to hold back stifled laughs.)
Lesson learned. Not everything can be replaced with lemons.
This recipe is relatively easy because it doesn't require yeast. (If it had, I would not have made it a second time, and utensils would have been thrown.) The only thing you really need to be careful of is how much you handle the dough. You need to be extra gentle. If it's overworked, it will be tough, and bland, and antisocial. But, if you're kind and sweet, it will return the favor.
These cinnamon roll/muffin hybrids are spectacular! They kind of remind me of extra-large chunks of monkey bread who caught a lucky break and managed to find their own way in the vast, fast-paced world of breakfast pastries.
I doubt that my lemon versions would have stood a chance against these gems...even if the filling had made it through the oven's skeptical scrutiny.
Cinnamon Roll Muffins
yields 12 muffins
for the filling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cups brown sugar3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
for the dough
1 cup room temperature buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 cups flour (extra for dusting)
for the drizzly drizzle
1 cup confectioners' sugar2-3 Tablespoons. cream
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter or spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon; Set aside.
Prepare the dough: In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the buttermilk and egg; Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange zest, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture and, using a fork, mix everything together. Add the flour and gently mix all the ingredients together with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. [Try not to over-mix.]
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a good minute. Grab the rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 12 x 24-inch rectangle. The dough is quite friendly and flexible, but try not to over-work her, (or she will get tough on you).
Use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and gently press it into the dough. [Not too hard, just enough to make it adhere to the butter.]
Starting on the longest side, begin rolling the dough into a tight log, stretching slightly as you roll. If the ends are scraggly, cut them off with a sharp knife. Cut the log into two equal pieces, and cut each of those pieces in half. (You'll be left with 4 logs of dough.) Cut each log into 3 equal pieces (12 all together). Place each one into the prepared pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completley before adding the drizzle.
Drizzle: In a small mixing bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons of cream. Mix until well-combined and smooth. If it looks too thick, add a little more cream until it thins out enough to glaze. Dip a large fork or small whisk into the glaze and allow it to fall onto the muffins. Make zig-zag patterns it you like, or simply smear each muffin with the glaze, using an offset spatula. Have fun, lick your fingers, be happy.
Recipe adapted from The Baker Chic