Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls: Mmmmmmmmm!!!!!

One of my favorite memories from when I was very little is getting my picture taken at the mall with Santa. My grandma came to the mall with us so my parents could get some shopping done, and while we were waiting for my parents to come back and take us all home, my grandma bought us a cinnamon roll to share. I thought 4-year-old Frazzoo had died and gone to toddler heaven. I've always wanted to make my own cinnamon rolls, but the process always seemed to long and complicated and not worth the end result.

Well, today I learned that making cinnamon rolls is long and complicated, but the end result? SO TOTALLY WORTH IT. And yes, it needed to be said in all caps. These are seriously so, so, SO good. They taste great at room temp and even better when they're just out of the oven. They're not waistline friendly by any stretch of the imagination, but they're so awesome that you won't even care.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
(Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman)

Cinnamon Rolls:

1 quart (4 cups) milk (I used 2%)
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 packages Active Dry yeast
9 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda (scant = less than full)
1 heaping T. salt
3-4 c. melted butter
2 c. granulated sugar

Maple Frosting:

1 2 lb. bag powdered sugar
2 tsp. maple flavoring
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. brewed coffee
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a large pot. Scald the mixture (heat until JUST before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave the mix to cool for 45 minutes to an hour. Mixture MUST be between 100 F. and 110 F. Check the temperature at 45 minutes.

When yeast is the right temp, sprinkle in both packages Active Dry yeast. Let them sit for at least 1 minute so all the yeast is absorbed and "warm and moist and happy." Once all the yeast has absorbed into the mixture, add 8 cups (yes, 8) flour. Stir mixture together and stir well. Cover with a towel and let rise for at least an hour (or two).

After the dough has had a chance to rest, add one cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir mixture together and stir well (mixture could be difficult to stir).

Sprinkle a large, clean surface generously with flour. Flour your hands and the rolling pin, while you're at it. Take half the dough and roughly roll it out into a rectangle. Roll the dough thin, maintaining the rectagular shape. Drizzle 1 to 2 cups of melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle 1 c. sugar over the dough and butter, followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

From the far end, roll the dough tightly toward you in a neat line. Keep rolling tightly as you go. When the dough is rolled up, pinch the seam to the roll to seal it shut. Grease a foil pie or cake pan with butter, and beginning slicing the rolls. Slice the rolls 1/2 to 1 inch thick and lay in the buttered pans. Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 F. for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Repeat process with other half of dough.

Frosting: Mix together all ingredients with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Frosting should be thick but pourable. Drizzle generously over warm just-from-the-oven rolls.

Recipe makes 7 foil pans worth (or, 10 small rolls per pan, 6 large).

  • I found that the frosting didn't make enough to COMPLETELY cover each pan, like PW said. I'd advise making double the batch of frosting if you want to go crazy on the rolls.
  • Vanilla flavoring would work beautifully in the frosting if you don't like maple. In fact, don't sub maple syrup for maple flavoring if you don't have it/can't find it; maple syrup is too thick and won't work the way you want it to. Vanilla is your next best bet. Mmmm...vanilla.
  • Butter, cinnamon, and sugar will leak out of the ends of your dough as your start to roll it. Don't freak out and just let the mess be until you're ready to deal with it (if this is possible). Get your rolls rolled up and in the oven before you turn into Neato Nancy.
  • Maybe I didn't roll mine as tight as they should have been...they definitely didn't look pretty when I cut them, but they came out gorgeous after they'd puffed up in the oven. and heck, even if they're not perfect, who cares? Life's too short to worry about the perfectness of your cinnamon rolls.
  • I'd never worked with yeast before today, and I'd heard horror stories from people who'd worked with yeast and it just didn't go well. In my extremely limited experience, make sure that the temperature is right for the yeast before adding it to any mixture, and then let it sit for a minute or two so it can get "warm and moist and happy" as PW says. Dumping it in with the flour or throwing yeast in with hot water will kill it and leave you with 'rock hards'. Not good.
  • Before you go saying, "But I don't drink coffee....!" you can't really taste the coffee in the frosting. I drink coffee and could detect a hint, but I made strong coffee. Graham doesn't drink coffee and didn't know it was there. If you don't drink it and don't keep it around, you can probably skip it.
  • If you don't have a rolling pin (like me), use a sturdy plastic cup (like me). Make sure it's generously floured so the dough won't stick to the cup, and make sure it's not a flimsy souvenier cup from the ball park, or it won't work. Also, it works best if there isn't a funny lip or edge on the cup.
  • If you're looking for a last minute gift for me....I'd really love a rolling pin.
  • I used 1 cup of melted butter in each half of dough, and less than a cup of sugar each time. Just sprinkle and spread out the sugar and butter until you're satisfied.
  • These make your whole house smell like the mall, but without all the bad parking and crazy people.
  • You don't have to use foil pans, but if you use your regular old cake pans, you may need to adjust your cooking times accordingly. I used foil pans so I could give these away. Why am I giving them away? Because I'm crazy and don't want to keep all the goodness for myself.
  • Give yourself the better part of a day to work on these. I started around 9:30 a.m. and finished between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. Now, some of that was because I made messes that couldn't wait to be cleaned up, and at least 2 hours of that time was spent waiting for my mixtures to come together and doughs to rise. Regarless, give yourself time.
  • If you don't have time, put the mixture in the fridge and cover it with a towel after you've added the sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and final cup of flour. Check on it every now and then and punch it down if it starts to escape from the pan. It'll keep for a day or two.


  1. Looks great! I recently tried Alton Brown's recipe... I'll have to try this next!


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