Cast-Iron Campfire Cinnamon Rolls
Whether you are on an escapade in the woods or savoring a lazy weekend morning at home, the aroma of these cinnamon rolls will lure everyone out of bed. The dough and filling can be made and rolled up a day or two ahead, so you’ll only need to give the individual rolls a little time to rise before baking. A little anticipation never hurts, right? They are best enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus ½ cup (1 stick) for the filling
1 cup whole milk, lukewarm
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave in a heatproof container for about 30 seconds. Stir the melted butter into the lukewarm milk.
Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Stir on low speed for about 15 seconds to combine. With the mixer running, add the eggs 1 at a time and pour in the butter and milk mixture in a slow, steady stream.
Continue to mix on low speed for about 8 minutes more, until the dough comes together in a ball around the dough hook and is smooth, shiny and springy to the touch. Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in the warmest spot in the kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 to 1½ hours.
Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium bowl, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.
This is a good time to make the icing: Wash and thoroughly dry the bowl of your stand mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Turn off the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat for about 30 seconds more to mix in evenly. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator (or a cooler, for camping) until ready to eat the cinnamon rolls.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down by putting your fist into the dough as far as it will go and repeat about 12 times all around the dough. Melt the ½ cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave in a heatproof container for about 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean countertop and rolling pin, and roll out the dough into about a 12- by 18-inch rectangle. Brush the melted butter all over the dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly all over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough lengthwise into a log and pinch the ends to seal them.
At this point, the log can be tightly wrapped and sealed in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator (or a cooler, for camping) until you are ready to eat the cinnamon rolls. It will keep for a day or two. Or proceed with the following steps.
About an hour before you are ready to bake the cinnamon rolls, use a knife to mark off 12 even rounds of approximately 1½ inches each. It helps to mark the middle first and keep marking the center of each section until you have 12 even portions. Then slice into individual rolls.
Arrange the rolls in a single layer in a 12-inch cast-iron pan (you will need a lidded cast iron for cooking on campfire). Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a lid and place in a warm spot, for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffed up and nearly doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350°F if making them at home.
Once they have risen, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown on the tops and sides and completely cooked through. (For baking on the campfire, you will place the lid on your cast iron and set it on a grill grate over hot coals. Use a shovel to place about 12–14 hot coals evenly around on top of the lid.)
Let the rolls cool slightly, then ice the tops and enjoy right away.