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© Iain Bagwell/Mumbai Modern
Warm, gooey and fluffy, what’s not to love about cinnamon rolls? When enjoyed with a warm beverage, they practically melt in your mouth. For a twist on the traditional, try Amisha Gurbani’s recipe for pear and chai masala cinnamon rolls, from her new cookbook, Mumbai Modern.
“For the filling, I use warming spices, such as cinnamon (of course), cardamom, ginger and nutmeg,” she writes. “I also use my pear and chai masala jam, which is one of my favorite winter jams. The rolls—filled with the jam and pear pieces and topped with the delicious vanilla bean icing—are special, and a wonderful way to spend the weekend with your loved ones.”
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Gurbani’s recipe does call for homemade jam, which adds a special touch—and a bit of time—to this labor of love. However, you can also shortcut with a store-bought jar of high-quality jam and get similar results. Either way, you’re in for a breakfast treat.
Excerpted from Mumbai Modern: Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by Indian Roots and California Cuisine. Copyright © 2021 Amisha Dodhia Gurbani. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.
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Cinnamon Roll Dough
1 cup (240g) whole milk
One ¼-ounce packet (about 2¼ teaspoons/7g) active dry yeast
¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (54g) granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, melted
4½ cups (540g) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
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2 teaspoons (4g) ground ginger
1 teaspoon (6g) table salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons (9g) vanilla extract
½ cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons (6g) ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons (3g) ground ginger
1 teaspoon (2g) ground cardamom
½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon (1 to 2g) freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (½ stick/56g) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces Pear and Chai Masala Jam (recipe follows) or store-bought pear jam
2 small pears (any kind you prefer), halved, cored, and cut into small cubes (about ⅓ inch; you can keep the skin on)
Vanilla Bean Icing
2 cups (256g) confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons to 5 tablespoons (61 to 77g) whole milk, room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Pear and Chai Masala Jam (Optional; See headnote)
2 pounds (910g) d’Anjou pears—peeled, halved, cored and chopped
1 pound (454g) granulated sugar
1½ ounces (42g) fruit pectin
3 ounces (89g) lemon juice
2 teaspoons (4g) chai masala spice blend
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1. Make the Dough: In a small saucepan, warm the milk to about 110°F. Add the yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, stir and let sit for 10 minutes. You will see it foam up—this means the yeast is active. Add the melted butter to the warm milk mixture.
2. In a large bowl, mix the bread flour, ginger, salt and ¼ cup (50g) sugar.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the milk mixture, the eggs and vanilla extract and mix to combine. (Alternatively, you can do this in a large mixing bowl by hand.) Add the dry mixture to the wet, starting with the mixer on low and increasing the speed gradually. Mix until combined, about 8 minutes. The dough starts off very sticky, and as the gluten develops, you will see it leaving the sides of the bowl and forming a ball. It will still be slightly sticky, but it will have structure. (If you are using a mixing bowl, then knead the just-combined dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes until it forms a ball.)
4. Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it sit until it doubles in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
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5. Make the Filling: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg. Set aside.
6. Assemble and Bake: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it into a 12-by-20-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly all over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Evenly dollop the jam all over the dough. Using a small offset spatula, gently spread the jam into an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border. Finally, sprinkle the pear evenly all over the dough. Starting from the long edge, roll the dough tightly into a log shape. Trim the uneven ends. Measure the log and cut it into 12 rolls. Each roll will be about 1½ inches wide.
7. Place the rolls evenly spaced in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a cool place to rise and double in size, at least 2 hours.
8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. When the oven is hot, bake the rolls until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. The inside temperature should be about 190°F.
9. Make the Icing: While the rolls are baking, in a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla paste, and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be on the thick side thick, but thin enough that it can drip down the sides of the rolls. You can leave some extra frosting behind to serve alongside the rolls. Cool the rolls for about 10 minutes before frosting.
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Pear and Chai Masala Jam
1. In a large bowl, combine the pears with the sugar, fruit pectin, lemon juice and chai masala. Stir, cover and set aside for 1 hour. Meanwhile, place a small plate and two metal spoons level in the freezer.
2. To sterilize the jars, preheat the oven to 230°F. Wash three 8-ounce jars with warm water and shake off any excess. Place them on a baking sheet. Place the tray with the jars in the oven until ready to fill them, or for at least 20 minutes to ensure sterilization. (This allows you to store the jam unrefrigerated for up to one year.)
3. Make the Jam: In a large nonstick saucepan over medium to high heat, add the pear mixture and stir to incorporate. Keep a candy thermometer hooked to the pot so you can see the temperature.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then boil until it starts foaming, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook another 10 minutes; the foam will gently subside. Skim any excess foam with a spoon.
5. Reduce the temperature to medium; the bubbles will get smaller as the jam reduces. Keep stirring to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan or bubble vigorously. Boil for another 5 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). The temperature on the thermometer should reach 220ºF, and the jam consistency will be thick.
6. To test that the jam is set, add a teaspoon or two of the jam on each spoon from the freezer, and let it sit in the freezer for 3 minutes. When you remove the plate with the spoons, the jam should slowly come down off the spoon but it should not be runny. If it is runny, boil the jam for another 2 to 3 minutes, and repeat the procedure until the jam is set.
7. Remove the tray of jars from the oven, and carefully fill them with the jam, leaving about ¾ inch of space from the top of the jar. Put the lids on securely and turn the jars over to mix. Return the tray of jars back into the oven for 15 minutes to sterilize. Remove the jars from the oven and invert them to mix again. Cool completely for about 2 hours. Store unopened in a cool, dark place for up to one year, or opened in the fridge.
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