Alsatian Cinnamon Rolls (Chinois)

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by Heather Harris Brady

I got a beautiful cookbook for Christmas, The Art of French Pastry, and I’ve read it from cover to cover. However, because we’ve all taken turns with colds since then it’s only now that I’ve actually gotten down to cooking from it. It’s a lovely book, very easy to understand with lots of great illustrations. While it does cover all the basics, the section at the end where Chef Pfeiffer talks about the pastries from his native Alsace is my favorite.

These rolls are from that chapter. They are different from American farmhouse cinnamon rolls in that they use a brioche dough and they have a layer of almond cream inside with the cinnamon. To keep this post a reasonable length I’m going to use my Julia Child brioche post for the dough, instead of the one given in The Art of French Pastry, and I’m adding a bit of orange to the glaze. If you use a quick-rise yeast you can have finished rolls in two hours, but a long slow rise for the dough in the refrigerator is even better if you have the time.

Alsatian Cinnamon Rolls, Makes about 24

One recipe brioche dough

Almond Cream

  • 1 c. + 2 T. almond flour
  • 7 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract

2 T. cinnamon

Orange Glaze

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. orange bakery emulsion or orange extract
  • 1 – 2 t. cold water

Make the brioche dough and set it out to rise until doubled. When it’s almost there start your almond cream.

Combine the ingredients for the almond cream in your mixer bowl.

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Beat them together until smooth and creamy, then set it aside.

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Punch down the brioche dough and divide it in two. Roll one half out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle.

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Top it with half the almond cream.

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Spread it out to cover the dough,

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and top it with half the cinnamon. You can add some dried fruit too at this point if you like. Raisins are a traditional choice.

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Roll it up like a jelly roll and cut it into segments 1″ thick. Nestle them into a lightly greased baking dish. Repeat these steps with the second half of the dough.

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Preheat the oven to 375. When the rolls have doubled in bulk put them in the oven.

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While they are baking mix up the glaze. Combine the sugar and the extract, then drizzle in the water until you have the right consistency.

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I took the rolls out when they were a medium brown, but the cookbook says its traditional to leave them in until the tops are very dark.

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Drizzle the hot rolls with the glaze.

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They are best warm, and they come apart easily.

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The brioche gives you the beautiful lacy texture.

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The almond cream bakes into the rolls and they are fantastic with a cup of hot tea.

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Store leftover rolls wrapped airtight at room temperature. I froze half our batch for later, even though the one pan didn’t last a full 24 hours!


Three years ago: Cake Cookies
Two years ago: Easy Almond Coffeecake
One year ago: Creamy Tomato Sauce


 

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