Giant cinnamon roll

It was an affront to nature.  We knew it.  We did it anyway, and lo, an 11,000 calorie, 14″ diameter cinnamon roll was wrought into existence.

Giant cinnamon bun, pre-oven. Any bigger, and it wouldn't have fit.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s crazy! A cinnamon bun that big will surely turn into a black hole and destroy the world!”  Well, I had the same concern, but sometimes you just have to go forward with things.  For science.  After all, when you consider the countless ways the world could end, wouldn’t “death by cinnamon roll” be one of the more pleasant ways to go?

And so, caution and fear of diabetes thrown to the wind, last Saturday my friend Tyler and I set about making our giant cinnamon roll.

After much hand waving and surprisingly little measurement, we decided on using a 12″ pizza pan for the base, mainly because that was the largest baking sheet we owned.  After even more guesswork, I figured that a double batch of dough would be about right: 32 normal cinnamon rolls equal one giant cinnamon roll.

Half of the dough

The construction of the roll was one part guys-with-masters-in-engineering and one part Saturday-morning-laziness, all moderated by the creativity required when we didn’t really have the right ingredients on hand. For example:

Me: “Ok, we need two cups of milk.”

Tyler: “We don’t have any milk.”

Me: “Hmm. What do we have?”

Tyler: “Beer.”

Me: “Well…”

Tyler: “It’s good beer.  Sierra Nevada.”

Me: “Ok, give me one of those.”  I cracked it open.  ”Ah, that hits the spot.  But what are we going to use for the rolls?”

Tyler: “The only dairy we have is full-fat cottage cheese and fat-free yogurt.”

Me: “Well… I suppose that a cup of water and a cup of yogurt is about equal to two cups of milk, right?”

Tyler: “Eh, close enough.”

And so it went.

“Bread flour?  Well, I bet all-purpose flour plus some xanthan gum is pretty close.”

Making normal rolls...

...and unrolling the normal rolls to create the big roll!

After much mixing, kneading, shaping, rising, and hoping, we had a puffy 14-swirl cinnamon roll staring at us, ready to go in the oven.

Ready for the oven!

Fifteen minutes into the baking, Tyler and I were sitting in the dining room when we were hit by the stench of smoke.

“The roll!” Tyler said, and we dashed into the kitchen.

The roll wasn’t burning, which was good.  Unfortunately, or awesomely, the roll was so big that it had started escaping the sides of the pan.  Caramel from the inter-swirl filling had started leaking out of the roll and begun dripping on the hot oven floor.  Some quick scraping of the burnt excess and a protective foil barrier later, and we were back in business.

After about 35 minutes in the oven, the roll’s internal temperature had reached 190 degrees, and it was ready to return to the cool world.

Fresh out of the oven. It's trying to escape!

Giant cinnamon roll, sans icing. Yum.

14 inches of delight (that's what she said!)

We whipped up about three cups of icing (picture that for a second) and dumped it all on the roll.  That was just enough to give it a thin coating.  Some of it surely seeped down into the delicious crevices.

Making the icing

That's right: over three cups of icing

And then it was finished: 154 square inches of fat and carbs, roughly 11,000 calories.

HUUUUUGE!

Here’s the really surprising part.  It wasn’t just big; it was delicious. It might have been one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had, and certainly the best (of many) I’ve ever made.

Taking out a wedge

*drool*

Giant cinnamon roll, I love your gooey goodness.

Thumbs up!

Recipe (adapted from Cinnamon Rolls III):

  • 1000 g all-purpose flour (approximately 8 c)
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 4.5 tsp active dry yeast (two packages)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1 c plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1.5 c warm water
  • 0.5 c butter, melted
  • 2 eggs

Filling:

  • 0.5 c butter, melted
  • 450 g dark brown sugar (about 2.25 c)
  • 2.5 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 c pecans, chopped

Icing:

  • 2.5 c powdered sugar
  • 0.25 c butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp milk

Directions:

  1. Proof yeast by mixing 0.5 c warm water, active dry yeast, and 2 Tbsp sugar in small bowl.  Let sit until foamy.
  2. In large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and xanthan gum.
  3. In separate large bowl, mix 0.5 c melted butter, 1 c warm water, 1 c yogurt, 2 eggs, and pudding mix.  Mix in the yeast mixture.  Mix in the flour mixture until holding together.
  4. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead thoroughly.
  5. Split dough into two equal parts. Place each part in lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise in warm spot until doubled in volume (about 1 hour).
  6. While dough is rising, prepare large (13″ or bigger) pizza pan by covering its top with a sheet of parchment paper
  7. When dough has risen, turn out each portion onto a lightly powder-sugared surface.  Roll each portion into a roughly 13″ by 18″ rectangle.
  8. Spread 0.25 c of melted butter on each of the rectangles, reserving about 20% of the of butter for later.
  9. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread half of the brown sugar mixture on each of the rectangles, forming an even coating.
  10. Roll up each of the rectangles from the long side
  11. Coat the rolled logs with the remaining melted butter.
  12. Cut the logs into 2.5″ sections
  13. Place one of the rolls on end at the center of the prepared pizza pan.
  14. Unroll another roll and wrap the unrolled dough around the roll already on the pizza pan, continuing the spiral established by the first roll.
  15. Continue building the spiral on the pizza pan until you run out of space or dough.
  16. Build a ring out of aluminum foil to go around the giant roll, and place it around the roll.
  17. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about an hour).
  18. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  19. After giant roll has risen, uncover and place in preheated oven.
  20. Bake until roll reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees (about 30 minutes).
  21. While roll is baking, prepare icing by mixing butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, milk, and powdered sugar using a stand or hand mixer.  Icing should be viscous but not too firm.  Adjust milk and powdered sugar to desired consistency.
  22. When roll is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before topping with icing.
  23. Cut into wedges to serve. Enjoy!

Yield:

Makes 1 large (14″ diameter) cinnamon roll.

Yeah, but do they taste good?

If you like cinnamon rolls as much as I do, then you’ve probably seen some enormous variations on that sugary, buttery, bread-y delight.  I know I have: rolls the size of dinner plates, rolls fit to make several meals all on their own, and rolls so sweet that I can feel my pancreas cursing my taste buds.

You know what? Those were all tiny.  Check out these monster cinnamon buns.

Look at the size of those cinnamon buns!

Clearly, they were HUGE. I hope the flavor was as large.

Check out the preparation photo sequence for added cinnamony goodness.

(tip o’ the hat to reddit)

Whole Foods Denver cinnamon roll

Quick review:

I have discovered that the cinnamon rolls vary from Whole Foods to Whole Foods.  I suppose that isn’t surprising, given that they bake them on site, but still, it was a matter of changing an assumption.   The one today comes from a Whole Foods in Denver; compare it to the Whole Foods roll I reviewed from Minnesota and you’ll see quite a bit of difference.

 

Cinnamon bun from Whole Foods in Denver on Hampden Avenue

This is a very large bun.  The bread is sweet with a nice texture: soft with a relatively open crumb.  Similar to the innards of a properly baked yeast-leavened doughnut.  I would have preferred cream cheese frosting, but the icing that is pleasant is well-executed and does not overwhelm the rest of the roll.

Overall, a good cinnamon bun.  8/10

Where to get it:

Whole Foods
7400 E. Hampden Ave, Unit D
Denver, CO 80231

 

Price paid:

$2.49