Chai Cinnamon Rolls by Killing Thyme
Words, photo and recipe by Dana at Killing Thyme.
It’s rare that I bake when my Mom isn’t around; dough frightens me. (Well, it used to.) Since I grew up watching my Mom make pies, pierogi, and other dough-y things from scratch, I tend to wait until she’s in town before I bust out the flour and blow the dust off of my rolling pin. And since she lives a solid 12 hour drive away, she isn’t here often — so I go BIG.
Last year we made these drool-worthy beer pretzels. This year, I made her stand by as I rolled up these nomtastic cinnamon rolls and I think I’ve finally found the confidence to bake by myself!
These are too easy, y’all.
These aren’t your average cinnamon rolls, either. They’re infused with Arbor Tea’s Organic Masala Chai giving them a warming flavor with the essence of clove, ginger, and cardamom. And yes, the icing is also infused with chai because in this house, when we chai, we chai hard.
Pumpkin spice can take a backseat! (In the garbage can.)
I’m really happy to report that these were WAY easier to make than I thought they’d be.
- 1 1/4 cup milk reserve 1/4 cup for the icing and set aside
- 2 TBSP Arbor Teas Organic Masala Chai Black Tea
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (equivalent to one packet)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 5 TBSP softened butter
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 TBSP softened butter
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup chai-infused milk, reserved from dough
- Start things off by heating your milk in a saucepan until it's steamy. (Don't boil it.) Remove from heat. Add your tea infuser or bag to the milk and let it steep for about five minutes. The milk should turn slightly beige because of the tea.
- Remove the tea, and transfer your milk to a mixing bowl. Add yeast, maple syrup, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly until combined.
- Add the softened butter and mix again. When the mixture is cohesive, add the egg and beat together at medium speed. Once mixed, add the remaining flour bit by bit to ensure your dough isn't too dry. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
- Create a clean and lightly floured surface. Transfer the dough to the surface and knead for about five minutes, or until the dough springs back when you press lightly into it. Return the dough to your bowl, cover it with a towel, and let rise for an hour, until it's doubled in size.
- Once the dough has rised, remove it from the bowl and, with a rolling pin over a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a 9 by 15 rectangle.
- In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Slather the softened butter over the dough; use the wrapper or plastic wrap as a holder for your butter butter to easily spread it over the dough; leave a one inch gap along the top long side of the dough so it sticks when rolling. Use the wrapper to spread any remaining butter into the bottom and sides of a skillet or pan so that the cinnamon rolls don't stick to it when baking.
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough covering its entire surface. When done, tightly roll the dough up (from short end to short end so your roll is long). Carefully cut the roll into 1-inch pieces; you should end up with about 10-11 rolls.
- Carefully transfer each roll into your buttered skillet or pan. Replace the towel and let them rise for 30 minutes, or place in the fridge overnight to finish in the morning. (If you're finishing them in the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and them let sit on the counter, covered by the towel, for 45 minutes.)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F while your cinnamon rolls are rising. When ready, remove the towel and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes then check them for doneness. If not quite done, let them bake for another 5 minutes. I like my baked goods slightly undercooked to guarantee that ooey gooey goodness. When I baked these the first time, I went for a full 30 minutes and though tasty, they weren't soft and gooey. So keep that in mind.
- While the rolls bake, whip together the icing by mixing the confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of that reserved chai tea together until smooth. It should look like a thicker opaque icing, and not a glaze. If it seems too thick, add a bit of milk; if too runny, add a bit more confectioners' sugar. You can add a wee pinch of salt to cut the sweetness in this case, if you wish.
- Once the cinnamon rolls have cooled, drizzle them with the icing, serve, and enjoy!