Never Mind Rolls, Make Sourdough Cinnamon Balls (Buns!)
Yes cinnamon rolls are good, but they also can be too sweet, cloying even, and they can be time consuming to make. Instead, try something similar but far simpler--Sourdough Cinnamon Balls or Buns, if you prefer. The balls/buns are sweet but not excessively so, and you could easily serve them for dinner as well as with breakfast. The cinnamon balls also would be great with a cup of tea or coffee, with or without butter and jam. In terms of making the balls, they are quite simple to do. If you've ever rolled play-dough into balls, then you should be good to go. You make the dough, coat them in their baking dish with a topping, which oozes down and over the balls, and then, before baking the balls, dust them with a little more cinnamon and sugar. I like to add chopped nuts, but they are entirely optional. I also recommend adding a half cup of raisins to the dough, if you'd like a little more sweetness and texture in your cinnamon balls. The cinnamon balls are best served warm, but they're good at room temperature, too!
Sourdough Cinnamon Balls -- Makes 9
1 cup of starter/discard
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour
In a large bowl, combine the ingredients listed above and stir them until they are thoroughly combined. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour and preferably longer (I usually let it go for 4 hours or so). When you're ready, add:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of raisins (optional, but good)
Stir the flour and salt (and raisins, if you want) into the first mixture to form a dough, adding a couple more tablespoons of flour if the dough seems too tacky/sticky. Divide the dough into 9 golf-ball-sized portions and knead the pieces a bit, forming each piece into a smooth ball with your hands. Place the dough balls into a 9-inch square pan coated with non-stick cooking spray.
Mix together in the bowl you used to mix the dough:
1/4 cup of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pour the mixture over the dough balls, letting it run over them and down and between them. Sprinkle 1/4 - 1/2 cup of chopped nuts over the dough balls, if you'd like. Cover the dough balls loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise for 1-2 hours or until they've puffed up and have almost but not quite filled the pan. Sprinkle the tops of the balls with 1 tablespoon of sugar and dust them with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake the balls at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and barely firm to the touch. Let the balls cool a little before serving them warm.