Bacon is the cherry on top for every dish these days. So, I figured why not roll some up into the soft, warm folds of cinnamon rolls?

Are we on the downward slope of the bacon trend? Maybe. Afterall, it was over 3 years ago that Katrina of Vosges Haut-Chocolat first took bacon off the breakfast plate and into her famous Bacon Chocolate Bar. These days, nearly all things come in vanilla, chocolate and bacon. From bacon ice cream to bacon pudding, this smokey, salty delight is the “it” food on dessert menus. Bacon is so now, you can find loads of novelty wear expressing your love for the salty pork. You can even dress your wounds with bacon band aids.

Since it is impossible NOT to have bacon on the mind, I find myself cooking with it more than ever. A few days ago, when preparing some cinnamon rolls for house guests, I had the idea to roll a few strips of bacon right up into the swirl rather than serving it alongside with eggs. You know what they say… everything tastes better with bacon.  And most of the time, “they” are right.

The crunchy edge of bacon peeking out from the curves of the spiral was inviting. The smokey, bacon aroma mingled well with the fresh baked dough. And, the salty pork bites were a good complement to the sweet, buttery cinnamon filling.

I must admit that simply taking bites of a crunchy strip of bacon alongside these rolls would have the same delectable result. But if you want to live the bacon craze, impress some guests or serve these outside of a full breakfast presentation, the extra preparation is worth it.

Bacon Cinnamon Rolls
Makes about 15 rolls

1 cup milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
15 strips of good smoked bacon
Cinnamon Filling (see recipe below)
Frosting (optional)

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer, combine all the ingredients in the order given except the bacon and Cinnamon Filling and the Butter Frosting. Using a dough hook of a stand mixer, mix everything together until a soft dough forms, about 10 minutes. Without a stand mixer, turn dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Butter a 9×13×2-inch baking pan and an 8 inch square pan; set aside. After dough has rested, roll and stretch the dough into approximately a 15×24-inch rectangle. Brush the 1/2 cup softened butter over the top of the dough with a rubber spatula. Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar well in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon filling over the butter. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal.

With a knife, lightly mark roll into 1 to 1/2 inch sections. Use a sharp knife (I like to use a serrated knife and saw very gently) to cut sections. Place cut side up in buttered pan. The unbaked cinnamon rolls should not touch each other before rising and baking. Do not pack the unbaked cinnamon rolls together.

If you want to bake immediately: cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size (after rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan).

To bake the next morning: Put them in the refrigerator covered. They will rise slowly overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, cook the strips of bacon until done but not crisp. They need to be pliable. One by one, carefully unroll each cinnamon roll and place the bacon inside, aligning the bacon with the top edge of the roll so you will see it when it bakes. Roll back up and replace in your baking dish.

Bake in a regular oven approximately 20 to 25 or until they are a light golden brown.

Once baked, spread the warm rolls with frosting if desired.

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract or oil (optional, I did not use it.)

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract or oil until well mixed and creamy. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use and then bring to room temperature before spreading.