Monday, April 15, 2013

Anyone Can Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Something about the April snow flurries and the fact that the heated seats in my car have been running since October is starting to get me down. Saturday morning the gray sky greeted me like a kick in the pants, so to cheer myself up and stop drooling at the cover of this month's Food Network magazine I put into action the laborious process of making cinnamon rolls.  Just kidding! It's not really hard, it just takes something that is not my number one skill: patience.  I have talked to several people who are intimidated by baking with yeast, but much like a Sunday morning, it's really easy.

My grandma writes in her cookbook that she starts all her baking early in the morning so that things that have to rise have ample time to do it.  But this recipe allows for overnight refrigerator rise time, which is great because I love cinnamon rolls but not enough to wake up at 3 am.

So Food Network had a recipe this month, but I'm going to give you my grandma's because I made both recently and I thought my grandma's dough was much nicer to work with.  Grandma makes enough to feed an army (or a church congregation as the case may be) so I broke it down to 12 rolls, which your family will devour in one day, trust me.

Step 1.

First things first: the YEAST

put 1/4 cup warm water (about 100-110 degrees) and 1 packet of yeast and a pinch of sugar, set aside.

Melt in a small saucepan:
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 cup of butter (half of a stick)

Now add, 1/4 cup milk. Warm slowly on stove- don't boil.

OK.  Now mix 1/2 cup milk and 1 egg.  Add the milk and egg to the salt, butter, and sugar mixture on the stove.  Once it is coolish (grandma's word), add the yeast mixture.

Finally, put about 3 cups of flour into a large bowl (or Kitchen Aid Mixer), add the liquid to the flour and mix.  Now the fun part! Knead, knead, knead.  I usually whip it around on high in my mixer for a couple of minutes.  The dough should be smooth and not too sticky.

There are two tricks to making yeast breads, and they both involve the yeast. The first thing to remember is temperature matters.   You always warm the liquid to about 100-110 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer--have no fear, just use your senses. It should feel hot to the touch but not scalding.  Once you have the temperature right, add the yeast and a little sugar and then (tip number 2) leave it alone for at least 5 minutes.  The sugar helps the yeast do it's yeasty thing. You should see the yeast begin to get frothy.

Once you reach this step you have mastered the art of yeast breads and it's all downhill from here.

I started this late afternoon on Saturday because at this point you can throw the dough in the fridge until the next morning.  Hurray!

Fast forward to Sunday morning, lie in bed as long as you can until "Mama, mama" turns from a delightful coo to a frantic squawk.  At this point, fetch baby, change her and make your way to the kitchen to get these cinnamon rolls going.  If your lucky the wake up call will be around 6:15 so you have plenty of time to roll out your rolls.  Because, people, much like the zombies, these rolls will rise again...

Step 2.
Roll out your dough into a nice big rectangle.  About 10 X 18 inches. I used a ruler, whatever, I'm a teacher.

Slather the dough with softened butter.  I used about 4 tablespoons (but the Food Network called for over 1 cup, so use your judgement).

Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 3 tablespoons cinnamon. Spread liberally over the dough.  Roll dough tightly the long way and slice into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. I usually make practice marks in the dough to make sure I have 12 even slices. Place in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan.

Step 3.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again (about an hour).  Here's what grandma says about it:

"Rolls like a warm spot, not hot, for rising.  I sometimes wrap up the cookie sheets and put them in the car.  Sometimes I wrapped them up and put them in the sun on the desk in the bay window, sometimes I put them on a chair near the radiator. Those dog days of August are perfect for rolls if not for the baker.  Rolls like it warm and humid."

Step 4. 
We are almost done.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, mix up a quick frosting. I usually end up tweaking the liquid or sugar in this to get a nice consistency.
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 T butter
splash of vanilla

Frost the rolls while they are warm.

And Viola!  You have made cinnamon rolls. In my family, we ate over half the pan on Sunday morning and felt pretty pleased with ourselves about it. While they are not difficult to make, it does take some patience, but something about the whole process makes the end product seem special. I like that I'm making something for my family not exactly healthy, but utterly wholesome.

1 comment:

  1. Can I make the dough tonight & cook them in the morning before swim class? (This is Rachel of Andy and Wren and, in case my name doesn't show up!)


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