Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be gooey. A drippy filling is part of what makes them so delightful. But it's easy to have too much of a good thing — especially if that thing drips down your chin, stains your shirt, or leaks out of the roll while it's still in the pan. Alternately, sometimes the moisture seems to bake away entirely, leaving a disappointingly dry pastry. So what gives?
Ideally, the filling should be thick and gooey enough to stay in the roll. But home bakers often struggle to achieve the stickier fillings found at bakeries or chains like Cinnabon. That's because most recipes leave out a crucial ingredient: starch. Generally, cinnamon roll recipes call for a three-ingredient filling made from butter, sugar, and cinnamon. While this mixture delivers on taste, it doesn't deliver on texture. Without a binder to keep the ingredients together, that buttery filling will either melt to the bottom of the pan or disappear into the dough.
A little cornstarch will help, but if you're dead set on the perfect cinnamon roll filling, Instant ClearJel is the way to go. Made from modified food starches, Instant ClearJel is similar to cornstarch but gets better results in terms of texture. It's commonly used in canned pie fillings and commercially made baked goods. While regular cornstarch can be starchy and gummy, Instant ClearJel will make for a silky smooth filling. It's temperature stable, too, so you can freeze it without compromising texture.
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What's The Best Starch For Cinnamon Rolls?
While Instant ClearJel might get the best results, plain old cornstarch is more practical for most people. Cornstarch is cheaper, easier to work with, and readily available. You probably have a box of in your cabinet right now — and it's stocked in just about every grocery store for a fraction of the price of ClearJel. Instant ClearJel, meanwhile, is rarely found outside of specialty grocery stores. Getting your hands on a package will likely require a special trip or online order.
If you've never worked with Instant ClearJel before, there might be a bit of a learning curve. The instant part of Instant ClearJel refers to the fact that it thickens, well, instantly. Unlike most other starches, it only requires moisture to activate, not heat. This means that you can thicken the filling to your liking before putting it in the oven, but it also means that it's easy to overdo. Go slowly, as a little goes a long way.
Most recipes that call for Instant ClearJel forego butter entirely, opting for a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, ClearJel, and water instead. Remember to mix the ClearJel with sugar before adding wet ingredients — it'll clump otherwise. When using cornstarch, simply add it to your standard butter filling. Leave out the water unless you want to experiment with thickening it on the stovetop like a pie filling.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.