I thought about changing up a traditional cinnamon roll recipe by adding nuts or other exotic spices; but then I took a step back. What about good old-fashioned cinnamon rolls? Sure, bacon, maple, honey, Jell-O-flavored cinnamon rolls may be fun, but sometimes comfortable and easy food is even better.
These are old-fashioned cinnamon rolls full of butter, sugar, and cinnamon with a simple powdered sugar glaze.
Combine the yeast, water, and milk in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can — this will save you and the kitchen from being showered in flour.
Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour, then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low, and mix just until the flour is moistened, about 1-2 minutes. At this point, you will have a fairly dry, shaggy mass.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low, and add the eggs, followed by the sugar and the orange zest, if using. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the dough forms a ball, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2 tablespoon-sized chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. (You will have a dough that is very soft, almost like a batter.) Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Lightly butter another bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 40-60 minutes, depending on how warm the room is.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up and around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next day, when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt ½ of the butter and pour into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, butter a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and set aside. Put the remaining butter into the bowl and gently mash with the back of a spoon.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll out ½ of the dough into a 14-inch-by-12-inch rectangle about 2/3-inch thick. Using the same pastry brush, spread the butter mixture over the top of the dough; use as much or as little as desired (I try to use all of it).
In another small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and mix with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough. Starting at the smallest end, roll tightly into a log. Using a long piece of dental floss, loop under the log of brioche, crisscrossing, and then cut into ½-inch-thick circles. (You can cut the rolls into larger circles if you want bigger rolls.)
Put into the baking pan, just until touching (don’t cram them in). Cover with waxed paper and then drape a couple of towels over the top of the waxed paper. Set aside in a warm room and let rise until doubled, about 45-90 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and stir in the milk. Set aside. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from baking pan to a serving tray and spread the glaze over the rolls with a spatula.