Sticky Toffee “Cinnabon” Loaves

One of my personal favorite memories during filming Masterchef: Back to Win was when a bunch of us(i.e. Gabriel, Samantha, Dara, and I) ordered Cinnabon to where we were staying, and we just ate Cinnabon while trying not to feel stressed about the competition(before anyone asks, Bri had an appointment when that happened, or else I’m pretty sure she would have partaken in the Cinnabon festivities as well). It was one of those rare moments where we could just hang out as friends and talk about life, instead of anticipating what was going to happen next. All while stuffing our faces with Cinnabon. I remember that day also being a little awkward, because we had filmed the vegan challenge(RIP) the day before, and Samantha was technically eliminated. But since that was filmed on a Friday, and we got the weekends off, they kept Sam with us for the weekend since they did not get around to filming her exit interviews in time. Selfishly, I was actually glad, because I love Sam, and that meant we got to spend an entire weekend together hanging out and celebrating her, without her having to feel the tension or pressure of being in a competition! There were a lot of wholesome season 12 shenanigans that happened, which I’ll be careful talking about because you know, NDAs, but that was literally a moment that had 0 bearing on the show, and it’s way after the fact, so I doubt it would matter. All I can say is that I am happy to have become (closer) friends with my little Cinnabon crew through that experience.

Now for the recipe. I took the term “Cinnabon crew” and kind of ran with it, by baking three individual cinnamon rolls together in a single mini loaf pan. The end result was pretty amazing, not going to lie here. These loaves are great if you love the gooey centers, because they feature three gooey centers per loaf! I was really fascinated at the concept of Cinnabon’s gooey Center of the Roll, and I felt like these loaves embraced that pretty well. And if you love the crispy baked edges in a cinnamon roll, you get those as well, since the loaves are basically all-crispy edge, being a baked into a rectangular shape, and all-gooey center, so it’s really the best of both worlds! The dough itself is a yeasted flour dough that uses eggs, brown sugar, and milk to give it a silkier texture. Instead of using butter, I went with canola oil, since that will keep the breads from drying out faster. Even though they take longer to make because of the resting periods, yeasted bread doughs are my personal preference to baking powder/soda-based bread doughs simply because yeast-leavening results in a softer, pillowy crumb structure. That fact is especially true in doughnuts, but also can apply to breads(i.e. Irish soda bread, which is delicious but slightly crumbly, compared to a brioche, which is springy and light). The loaves are lined with a layer of date-brown sugar-cinnamon “goo”, which perfumes the soft bread dough with a distinctly sweet aroma. I used bourbon in my filling, since that will play off of the vanilla and brown sugar nicely, although using just milk works here too. I also made a thinned out cream cheese glaze, which I dusted with some cinnamon, just to give the loaves a more Cinnabon-Starbucks barista-kind of feeling.

Makes 3 mini cinnabon loaves:
For the loaves:
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 packet active-dry yeast
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, with more for rolling

In a bowl, mix everything together until an elastic dough forms. Cover the dough and allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour.

After the dough has been rested, roll out the dough on a floured surface int a rectangle that measures out to roughly five inches by 12 inches. Spread the filling on in an even layer. Roll up the dough, and freeze the dough for 20 minutes. Cut the dough into nine pieces. Press three pieces each into three lined mini loaf pans. And rest the loaves for 15 minutes at room temperature again.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. While the loaves are still warm, pipe on and spread the frosting. Alternatively, you can store the cooled down loaves in an airtight container, then reheat them in the oven or microwave before applying on the glaze.

For the filling:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp milk or bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp canola oil
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped dried dates

Mix everything together to form your filling. If using milk, store the filling in the refrigerator until time to spread onto the rested dough.

For the glaze:
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
4oz cream cheese
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a pot, heat up the sugar and milk. In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese with confectioner’s sugar and salt. Pour the brown sugar milk into the cream cheese and continue to whisk until softened and combined. Finish with vanilla extract. Pass through a sieve if the mixture is lumpy.

To garnish:
Ground cinnamon

Dip the cinnamon roll loaves into the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Dust the tops with some ground cinnamon to finish.

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