There is something so comforting in a cinnamon roll. Sweet, light, fluffy, full of creamy spicy filling. Really a perfect breakfast item, with a cup of tea, on a wintery morning. Or any other morning, for that matter. The addition of cocoa powder gives them just a hint of chocolate, enough to bring them from ordinary to extraordinary rolls. And if you know me, you know I don't frost any of the rolls. If you like frosting on your cinnamon rolls, whip up a simple cream cheese frosting and serve them hot.
For the dough
400 grams all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
100 ml warm water
100 grams sugar
100 grams Greek yogurt, room temperature
50 ml vegetable oil
For the filling
100 grams softened butter
50 grams light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
To make the dough, start by whisking together the water with the yeast and a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of flour. Stir it well and let it stand for about 10 minutes in a warm spot, to activate the yeast. In another bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, oil and the egg. Sift the flour twice, then put it in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast mixture, the rest of the sugar and the egg mixture. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to come together, then turn the dough out on a well floured surface and proceed to knead it with your hands. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and only slightly sticky. If it sticks too much to your hands, add another tablespoon of flour.
Grease a large bowl, put the dough in, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about an hour and a half, or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Sift together the cinnamon and the cocoa powder, then place them in a medium-sized bowl. Add the brown sugar, and whisk until combined well. When the dough has risen, turn it out on a floured surface and punch it down, to release the air. Gently knead the dough and roll it out into a very large rectangle (40x50 cm; 16x20"). Carefully spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, but do not go right to the edges.
Evenly sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the butter, still not going right up to the edges. Lightly press the sugar and cinnamon into the butter, then roll the dough up in a very tight roll, starting from the longer side. Cut the dough into 16 even pieces. Use a very sharp knife and cut carefully. Arrange the pieces in a large baking pan lined with baking paper and cover them with a kitchen towel. Let them rise for another hour, then bake in a preheated oven, at 190˚C (375˚F) for 12-15 minutes. Do not overbake the rolls. Yields 16 servings.