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{Homemade Saturday morning cinnamon rolls}

This weekend was all about BABIES, and (as you would imagine), it was pure happiness. Friday night, Tony, our friend Dom and I went to the LA Comedy Fest for a screening of MOTHERHOOD, a short I co-wrote and starred in (Dom directed it, and Tony co-starred). I’d never watched an unbiased audience watch it (only intensely stared as I forced loved ones to view it), so it was beyond exciting to hear people laugh and love it.
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{A pic from MOTHERHOOD}

Saturday, one of my favorite mamas in the world (she also happens to be a bridesmaid!), Julia, had me and our other high school friend Ali (another bridesmaid!) over for brunch with her adorable, sweet, gorgeous baby Avery. Avery laughs at all my jokes and loves snacking even more than I do, so I was pretty thrilled to be spending the day with her at their place by the beach.
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{Me, Julia, Avery & Ali}

I’d volunteered to bring homemade cinnamon rolls for selfish reasons – I’d been eating “clean” (boring) all week, and really, really wanted to eat some hot, buttery buns. One (Tony) might go so far as to call it an “obsession.” And I didn’t just want any cinnamon rolls. I wanted, specifically, Bubby’s Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls, the greatest recipe from the greatest brunch cookbook from the greatest brunch restaurant in NYC. (I am terrified of what my cravings will be when I’m actually pregnant one day.)

I wanted them so badly that, when I got home from the screening Friday night, glanced at the recipe and saw it took a total of 5 1/2 hours (including time for the dough to rise), I still made them. Even when, at 12:45am, I discovered that I had forgotten to buy cream cheese (a key ingredient in Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls)… I drove to the store at 1am. (I threw in a package of low-fat string cheese so the cashier wouldn’t think I was weird for buying cream cheese at 1am on a Friday. Which I think made me look weirder.) I got 2/3 of the way through and, at 3am, tapped out. I took a brief nap, then got back up at 7am to finish them. They were worth it. No regrets.

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If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! They’re perfect for hosting relatives over Thanksgiving next week, or for any holiday-related brunch. (Or, just every day, in my dreams.) To personalize mine, I used my uncle’s honey (he’s a recreational beekeeper.) Ron Silver, the genius behind Bubby’s, was kind enough to allow me to reprint the recipe, and these babies are all kinds of magic:

Bubby’s Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

MAKES 8 LARGE CINNAMON ROLLS

For the dough
One 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (100˚F)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (90˚ to 100˚F)
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Big pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk

1. Make the dough: In the work bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar and the warm water. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, until bubbly.

2. Add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the milk, brown sugar, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.

3. Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups flour and the salt. Turn the mixer back on and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer to high speed and continue to mix for 4 more minutes.

4. Turn the mixer off again and add the butter. Turn on the mixer once more and beat on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it aside in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. Make the filling: Stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, pecans, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl. Stir in the honey; set aside. image

6. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a heavily floured work surface. Gently knead the dough for about 1 minute, until it’s no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary.

7. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10-inch square. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch light-colored metal baking pan.

8. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth and easy to spread. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough with the wooden spoon. image

9. Fold the square into thirds as you would fold a business letter. You will now have a rectangle. Take the open ends and fold them inward into thirds again, making a small square. Flip the dough so that the seam is facing down.

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10. Using the well-floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle.

11. Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

12. Lift up the bottom edge of the dough with your hands and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place the cylinder seam side down on a lightly floured work surface. Using a sharp knife, trim off the ends. Cut the cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. (*I kept the ends and cooked them, too – fun for the chef to snack on, if not pretty enough to serve!) Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, in the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight. (*At 3am, I went for the latter.)

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13. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

14. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let the rolls sit at room temperature for 1 hour.) Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Give the rolls a little thump and if they sound hollow, they’re done.

15. Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until smooth.

16. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter left over from the filling. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a wire whisk to scoop up the icing, drizzle it over the rolls. Serve immediately.


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