We were invited to take part in a really unique giveaway on Instagram this month that involved all 25 of us creating recipes which highlight the new Aladdin live action movie! To enter to win a $250 Disney gift card, check the giveaway out here. At the end of this post is a list of other blogs participating and their own unique Aladdin recipe!
I knew this would be right up Heidi’s alley, so I let her know and encouraged her to roll with it! And roll with it she did! (see what I did there…)
I was so excited to get started on this recipe! We grew up having cinnamon rolls for breakfast every single Sunday morning. (Can you say spoiled much?) They are something very near and dear to our heart so it seemed like a natural choice. When coming up with a flavour that would fit with Aladdin, right away Elisia came up with the idea to do something Chai spiced. And the Rajah Rolls were born… in theory. Here’s how I took the idea and ran with it. Get the recipe here.
The first step was to come up with the Chai spice blend. It’s a bit like a Masala; there are so many different combinations of spices you can use. I knew I wanted a cardamom forward blend so I started with that and went from there. I grabbed all my warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg. I decided to use an equal amount of the cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. A lot of Chai spice blends have black pepper. I saw white pepper in my spice cabinet and decided to give it a try. Since I am using it in a dessert I thought the milder pepper would work nicely. Overall, I think the blend turned out perfectly. I combined the spices and put them into a little mason jar. It would be great on oatmeal, in a smoothie, or of course mixed with black tea to make Chai tea. There’s talks of even making a simple Chai syrup for lattes… perhaps a recipe will follow. I made quite a bit, so if you don’t want to have a lot left over you could half the recipe.
Back to the cinnamon rolls. People are often very intimidated to make them at home. I promise, they aren’t as hard as they look and you will impress your friends and family. Let’s get started!
First things first, you need to activate the yeast by making it bloom. Yes I know, I just finished telling you it was easy. So what’s blooming the yeast? Essentially you are activating it to make your dough nice and light and fluffy. To start, I heated my milk in the microwave for 1 min. You want to scald, not boil the milk, and allow it to come down to lukewarm. Scalding the milk denatures the whey protein in the milk which makes a better environment for the yeast to do it’s thing. If you put the yeast into boiling water you’ll kill the yeast and your dough will not rise. You just want it warm to the touch. Technically speaking, you want it to be 110 F. I like to add 1 tsp of sugar to the milk. Yeast loves sugar so I find it helps it bloom nicely. Just add the yeast, give it a little swirl or gently stir and leave it on the counter to do its thing.
This is where I really like a bread maker. I personally would adapt this recipe to use a bread maker, and use the bread machine yeast… dump it all in and skip some of these steps!
In the meantime, get all your other ingredients ready. Add the flour, the rest of the sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the Chai spice mix to a standing mixer. Use the dough hook attachment. If you don’t have one, you can do it by hand like a gangster. Give that a quick stir to combine. Then you can go ahead and melt the butter. I just throw it in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time until it’s fully melted. Get your eggs cracked into a separate bowl and then everything is prepped!
Go back to your yeast. You should smell a slightly sweet odour (it should look like a head of beer, and smell like beer) and the yeast will be a frothy layer on top of the milk. I usually add the eggs and the butter right to the milk at this point so all my wet ingredients are combined. Turn your mixer on low (don’t forget to lock it!). Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, keeping the mixer on low.
Let it go until all the dough comes together into a ball. There shouldn’t be any dry ingredients left at the bottom of the bowl. Once it comes together I pull it out of the bowl and knead it by hand a couple of times to smooth it out.
Spray your mixing bowl with kitchen spray, or you can grease it with butter or oil. You just don’t want the dough to stick. I like to lightly spray the top of the dough as well so it doesn’t dry out. Cover with a kitchen cloth and let it rise.
Here comes the fun part! Time to roll them out. Dump the dough onto the counter. You can lightly flour the surface, but I prefer to spray it with cooking spray. It’s less messy. Roll the dough out into a rectangle. You can use your hands to adjust the shape. Mine always end up more like an oval. Keep rolling the dough out until it’s about a quarter inch thick.
Cover the surface of your rectangle with butter. You can use real butter or soft margarine, whichever you prefer. (I use Becel as it’s easy to spread.) Make sure you cover the entire surface with a thin layer.
Next, sprinkle brown sugar over the butter, using your hands to spread it so that it completely covers the butter. Then you sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar. Easy, right?
Here comes the roll. Starting in the middle of your rectangle, gently start to roll the dough away from you moving from the middle to the ends. Keep rolling until it’s one long log… for lack of a better word. Cut the roll in half and then cut again, about two inches wide and repeat until all the rolls are cut. The ends kind of wind up being little nubs but they still taste great. Arrange in a greased baking dish. (If you are making them ahead for another day, skip ahead to the next paragraph.) Cover with a clean towel and let rise another half hour or so. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 15-20 mins or until the tops are golden brown.
These are great to make ahead. You can either cover them with plastic wrap and put them into the fridge to bake off in the morning. Or you can freeze them to use at a later time. If you freeze them, I pull them out the night before and let them defrost and rise on the counter overnight. If you are putting them in the fridge, pull them out an hour before baking them so they have time to come to room temperature and rise.
Now comes the fun part. Icing! Is it even a cinnamon bun if it’s not iced? Cream cheese icing is an absolute must in my opinion, but you could do a regular icing (powdered sugar, milk, touch of vanilla) if you prefer. Make sure your butter and cream cheese have a chance to soften on the counter. Putting them in the microwave usually results in over melted butter. If it’s too cold, the cream cheese will be lumpy. What’s the point in going through all that work to take short cuts with the icing?
Using the standing mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Slowly… I repeat… do not rush this or you will have icing sugar from one end of the counter to the other… slowly add the icing sugar until incorporated. This is where you add the vanilla and the milk until it’s the right consistency. You want it nice and spreadable. Because I want them cardamom forward I decided to add a little to the cream cheese icing. Just half of a teaspoon, which is really subtle.
Now because we are making Rajah Rolls, I have to add the stripes. This is where a big punch of the Chai spice is delivered. Mix the icing sugar and spice mix together. Add warm water. NO MORE than 1 teaspoon at a time. It’s a drizzle so you want it loose enough to drizzle but not so loose that it melts away. I found 3 teaspoons was perfect, but add little by little until it’s right to you.
And there you have it! The perfect snack for watching Aladdin, both new and old.
Happy baking, and have a magical day!
Heidi, Erica, Elisia and Danielle
For the rest of the recipes, check out the links below:
1. Oh Sweet Disney
2 .Stress Free Mickey
3. Mouse and the Magic
4. One Little Spice
5. Drop of Disney
7. Melis Vida
9. Paper Angels
10. The Everyday Mouse
11.Disney Fam Vacation
12. I Am a Honeybee
13. The Chirping Moms