Sarah's Best Cinnamon Buns
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
1 large or extra-large egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ to 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (optional)
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease a 10-inch square pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts (if using) and vanilla until well combined; set aside.
Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. In the mixing bowl, mix the yeast and warm water on low speed for 10 seconds, just to combine. Add the oil and sugar, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Add the egg, salt and 3 cups of flour and knead on medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too sticky, add the remaining ½ cup of flour and continue kneading until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 16 x 9 inches, keeping the surface lightly dusted with flour.
Melt the butter and use a brush to generously coat the surface of the dough, leaving about a quarter-inch border free of butter. Cover buttered dough evenly with the filling.
Starting at one end, roll the dough tightly into a log and then cut evenly into 9-12 pieces. Place each roll snuggly next to one another in the greased pan, cut-side-up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the tops are golden brown. If the buns appear to brown too quickly, lightly cover with aluminum foil for duration of baking time.
Remove buns from oven and let cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for 10 minutes before adding the glaze.
Prepare the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. To thicken, add more sugar, or more milk to thin out, until desired consistency is achieved.
Pour or spoon glaze over warm buns until evenly distributed. Serve immediately or cover pan and store at room temperature for 3 days.
To freeze: Best when frozen before baking. Place cut buns on a baking sheet and freeze for one hour. Transfer frozen rolls to a plastic zipper bag or airtight container and freeze for at least two months. Remove from freezer, place on prepared baking sheet and let thaw as oven heats to 400 degrees. Frozen rolls may need a few more minutes to bake.