Sweet, Salty, and Smoky: Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

My family is trying to keep up a regular schedule of cousins' brunches, and to follow up on our March brunch after the St. Pat's 10K race, we scheduled our April brunch to follow the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (congrats to Jen for finishing her first 10 mile race!). Tom and I were tapped to bring dessert. It was the perfectly opportunity to try one of the Los Angeles Times' top ten recipes of 2014: Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls. (I have made the coffee doughnut muffins from that top ten list -- and they were insanely delicious.) 

One thing I liked about this recipe is the fact that you can do all the the prep the night before, chill the formed rolls, and then bake the rolls the following morning. To make the dough, you whisk eggs until light and fluffy; add in sugar and yeast activated in warm milk; and gradually add bread flour and salt. The recipe says to knead the dough by hand until it's soft and elastic, but I just used my Kitchenaid mixer fitted with the bread hook, adding extra bread flour as necessary. Then I put the dough in an oiled bowl to rise.

After the dough had doubled in size, I rolled it out into a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle. This dough was very easy to work with; I lightly floured my work surface, and the dough didn't stick or shrink at all. I brushed the dough with a mixture of melted butter and maple syrup and sprinkled over brown sugar mixed with cinnamon, followed by a generous layer of cooked and drained chopped bacon (I started out with a pound and a half of raw bacon -- that makes a lot of bacon bits!). I rolled up the dough, pinched the seam shut, cut the dough into 12 rolls, arranged the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and put the rolls in the fridge overnight.
The following morning, I pulled the rolls out of the refrigerator to let them come to room temperature and then baked them until they were deep golden brown. While they were warm I drizzled them with a glaze made from cream cheese, powdered sugar, maple syrup, and bacon grease (that I had saved from the day before when I cooked the bacon). The rolls were still slightly warm when I took them to brunch.

These cinnamon rolls were a big hit. As you might expect, they deliver a ton of sweet, salty, and smoky flavor -- and even the glaze is quite delicious. If I had to criticize one thing, it would be that the dough could have been lighter and fluffier -- but honestly, these rolls are all about the bacon and cinnamon, not the dough. Bacon really does make everything better.

Recipe: "Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls" from the Los Angeles Times.

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