Cajeta & Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
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For the starter:
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 1/4 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the dough:
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more to knead the dough
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted, plus more to butter the bowl
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter cut into 1/4 -inch dice
- 3/4 cup Cajeta or dulce de leche
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or canela
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
For the glaze:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
To make the starter:
- Place the lukewarm milk and water in a small bowl. Be careful as it shouldn’t be hot or cold, or the yeast will not react. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid along with a tablespoon of sugar. Stir and let rest until it puffs up and becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.
To make the batter:
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle and pour in the beaten eggs, foamy yeast starter, sugar, and salt. Start combining the ingredients with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. After a few strokes, add the melted butter. Mix with energy, until fully combined. The dough will be very sticky and gooey.
- Sprinkle your counter or work surface very generously with all-purpose flour. Turn the sticky dough onto the surface, and knead until it transforms from being sticky and gooey to soft and elastic, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add a bit more flour to the counter, if needed, and use a bench scraper to gather the sticky dough from the counter as you knead the dough, and it becomes malleable and soft. Shape the dough into a ball.
- Butter a large bowl, place the ball of dough in it, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rest in a warm area of your kitchen with no drafts or air currents, for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until it doubles in size.
To make the rolls:
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Sprinkle your counter or working surface generously with all-purpose flour. Place the dough on the floured counter and knead gently to begin to form a rectangle. Sprinkle a rolling pin with flour and use it to roll the dough into a long rectangle of about 10-inches wide by 24-inches long.
- Leaving a 1-inch frame around the rectangle spread the dulce de leche across the length of the dough to form a centered and long 6-inch stripe. Sprinkle the chopped pecans, the cinnamon, and the butter chunks all over the surface, except for that 1-inch frame.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Working lengthwise, roll up the rectangle tightly. Brush the top 1 inch edge of the rectangle, with water, and close the roll up. Cut into 12 rolls: I like to cut the log in half first, then that half in half, and each of those quarters into 3 rolls. Place them in the buttered baking dish. Cover the baking dish with a kitchen towel, and let them rest in a warm area of your kitchen with no drafts or air currents, until they double in size, about an hour.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 27 to 30 minutes, until they are fully cooked and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.
To make glaze:
- In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the vanilla, lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk and mix with a whisk or spatula. Incorporate the confectioners sugar and mix until fully combined. Pour freely all over the rolls.
- If you add the glaze while the rolls are still hot, they will turn out even better. Eat as soon as glaze has set, or at least try; it will be just a few minutes.