There is a lot of early morning work to do on the ranch, and neighbors often come to lend a hand with cattle work. One way I show gratitude is by making sure everyone who comes to help has good food to eat. A warm cinnamon roll is such a treat on a frosty morning when you have been working hard. I make these cinnamon rolls for early morning gathers and brandings. This recipe is easy to prepare the night before an event, and then they can be baked first thing in the morning. The pistachios bring a rich, nutty flavor to this recipe, the dough is soft, and the frosting is absolutely decadent.
TIP: You can prepare these and let the rolls do their second rise in the refrigerator overnight for early morning cinnamon rolls.
Special Equipment: a stand mixer with a dough hook, dental floss (for cutting dough).
Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe makes 8 to 10 servings. Total time 6 hours and 20 minutes (rising time included). Active time 50 minutes.
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Vegetable oil, for greasing bowl
- 1 cup ground shelled roasted pistachios
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup ground shelled pistachios, for dusting pan of cinnamon rolls
For the dough: Combine buttermilk, butter, and eggs in a medium bowl.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix until the dough comes together and no longer sticks to sides of bowl. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead until dough forms a ball and has an elastic feel to it.
Lower dough into a large, greased bowl and then turn dough, so the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap. Put bowl in a warm place and let rise for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled in size.
For the filling: Combine ground pistachios with brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or a 9-inch cast iron pan. On a floured surface, press dough out to form rectangle about 12 x 16 inches. Use a rolling pin to gently roll dough to make sure the thickness is uniform. Brush melted butter over entire surface of dough. Sprinkle dough with brown sugar/pistachio mixture, leaving 1 inch of free space on both ends. Roll the dough into a cylinder, pinching the seam to seal the cylinder so it does not unroll. Roll cylinder so that the seam is sitting on the cutting board. Gently stretch the cylinder to a length of 20 inches.
Use a knife to mark 12 equal sections of the cylinder. Thread a strand of dental floss underneath the dough, and pull tight with both ends to cut dough into rounds. Place sections in buttered pan, spacing rounds out evenly.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours. Alternatively, to bake the same day, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 °F. If baking the next morning, let the pan of cinnamon rolls come to room temperature. Bake for 20 minutes, or until looking light and airy. Dough should not yet be turning golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.
For the icing: Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, and milk in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour icing evenly over the pan of rolls. Dust with ground pistachios over the top of the icing. Serve warm.
Recipe first featured on Ranch To Table Season 2 Episode 4: Cooking for the Crew on the Magnolia Network.
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Photos by Brian Skope