The Fresh Loaf this really useful online community about bread and baking. It has a lot of great information on sourdough in particular. I converted the recipe to an excel spreadsheet to keep everything straight (it’s a 4 day process!). I’ll see if there’s a way to post the spreadsheet here, but for now I’ll just post the above link to the original recipe and tell you about any notes or changes I made and what did and didn’t work. It was one of the most involved sourdough recipes I’ve tackled yet and it was a lot of work, but the end result was definitely worth it. The cinnamon rolls didn’t last long!.
Day 0 (Thursday) , Freshen up starter
This was not part of recipe, but always needs to be done. I brought my starter to room temperature and fed it and tracked rise and fall so I had a sense of its peak rising time etc. My starter was at 100% hydration,.
Day 1 (Friday) , Build the levain
I fed my starter according to the recipe and let it sit at room temp until doubled, which was overnight or about 10 hours. The recipe calls for 850g of levain total, which is much more than I’m used to dealing with for a bread recipe. You can see here that my starter doubled and then some overnight.
Day 2 (Saturday) , Build the dough and Bulk Fermentation
I made the mashed potatoes the night before so it could cool sufficiently and mixed the final dough Saturday morning. This was particularly difficult because I don’t have a mixer and was stirring everything in by hand. I also didn’t have any buttermilk, so I added a bit of lemon juice to milk, which has worked well for me in other recipes. I didn’t have a large enough bowl to let the whole thing bulk ferment so I split it into two bowls and left it on the counter at about 60°. I also made the filling that afternoon. I followed my mom’s recipe for cinnamon roll filling instead of the ingredients in this recipe, just because I like it better and it’s simpler.
Day 2 (Saturday) , Shaping
This was where I ran into a bunch of problems and diverted from the recipe’s instructions. The first step after the dough has doubled is to divide it into two pieces (check) and then roll it out into a rectangle. The recipe says that the dough should be sticky, which it definitely was. Then I spread the filling and rolled up the first rectangle.
At this point you’re supposed to be able to slice the logs into rounds and put them in a pan or on a cookie sheet to rise. The recipe says, “Slice each log into 8 or 12 rolls with serrated knife and place them just barely touching each other on baking parchment on sheet pan. Don't worry if log gets flattened as you slice each roll, you can straighten them out once placed on the sheet pan, and they should rise very high and straighten out when proofing”. No such luck. The dough was way too soupy and thin to roll. The first half turned into a cinnamon roll blob and was not even close to sliceable. I remedied this by putting the whole thing in a bundt cake pan, so that it turned out like a coffee cake kind of thing. It actually worked really well and it was nice to have both a cake and cinnamon rolls in the end. It’s a huge recipe by the way. I’d definitely cut it in half next time.
For the second half of the dough I chilled the dough before trying to roll it out so that it was at about 40-45° instead of 60°-65°. I also didn’t roll the rectangle out as thinly as it said I should and rolled the log tighter than the first time (the first time was sloppy I think due to my lack of skill and the slackness of the dough). The second batch held its shape much better and I was able to slice it into rounds. I think that I would chill the log again before slicing it next time to retain the roll's shape. You can sort of round them out once they’re turned on end in the pan, but the colder it is the easier it is and the less filling squishes out. They were also huge. If I made the full recipe again I’d split it into 3 logs I think. No one could finish a whole roll.
Okay so once the rolls are cut and on a cookie sheet they go into the fridge for an overnight/10-12 hour fermentation.
Day 3 (Sunday) 10am Bake
Bake the rolls right out of the fridge and make the icing while they’re in the oven. This part went just fine. In addition to the icing, I had some extra filling that we spooned on top of some of the rolls. Everyone loved them and I took a bunch to work to share. The bundt cake roll turned out well too.
Notes on the recipe: I think they have a noticable sour tang that I would like to avoid next time, although none of my friends thought so. It might go nice with the sourcream icing I guess, but I thought they should have been a little sweeter. I also don't think they needed to rise for as long as they did. I think next time I would bulk ferment in the fridge at 40°-45° instead of on the counter at 55°-65°. Then I would try to roll the logs, then chill again and slice them while the dough is cold. Mountaindog does suggest other ways of chilling the dough in the recipe, “(NOTE: I've not yet tried this, but it should also be possible to chill the un-sliced logs in frig overnight and slice just before baking, or freeze the logs for up to 1 month, take out the night before baking and defrost in frig. Next morning, remove from frig., slice, and let warm up at room temp about 1-2 hours before baking.)” So yeah, I think I’ll do something akin to that the next time.
Perhaps to cut down on the fermentation time and the sourness that develops I could also try a shorter fermentation on the counter instead of in the fridge once the rolls are cut. Or I could possibly play with my starter to get more lactic acid out of it than acetic acid. Who knows. They also required quite a bit longer to bake than the recipe suggested, even though my oven was at 400°. Overall, they were really tasty but difficult to shape, so their appearance wasn't quite as nice as I would have liked. It was a fun process and an interesting recipe!