Friday, July 4, 2008
Cinnamon Rolls, Part 2
I learned two important things this week:
1. The vacuum cleaner will eventually recover after sucking up toilet water. (Don’t ask.)
2. Grandma’s cinnamon rolls really are the best.
For me, cinnamon rolls are synonymous with “grandma”. My grandma made cinnamon rolls every week, to be eaten Sunday morning before church (how’s that for a Norman Rockwell image?). I wish I'd have known then that this was not normal. I might have appreciated them just a tiny bit more.
My grandma was first a nurse, then a farmwife. She cooked three hot meals a day, tended the chickens, and the monster-sized garden, delivered eggs to customers in town, canned beets, peaches, pears and put up pickles. She raised her children and grandchildren part-time too. She sewed clothes and quilts, knitted afghans, crocheted doilies galore. She was a baking queen. She made the title “housewife” something to be proud of.
I never remember seeing her mad. Ever.
I only wish she was here to guide me in my attempts to master cinnamon rolls. She would probably be amused to see me reading and rereading recipes. I can imagine her smirking as I measure the rectangle of dough to make sure it is rolled out to the correct dimensions.
She probably could have made cinnamon rolls with her eyes closed.
I made somewhere around half a dozen batches of cinnamon rolls (it's become a blur) in my attempt to make some like hers. You might laugh at this… after these half-dozen batches I finally got the bright idea to check my recipe box on the off chance I somehow had gram’s recipe in there. Low and behold, there it was, just waiting for me to find it. Duh!
But making all of those batches brought me some much needed confidence. Maybe it was fate… I needed to practice on other recipes before I was ready for hers, so her recipe would be just like I remember.
Here are a few things I learned along the way…
- there’s no such thing as too much cinnamon. Well, for me anyway. If you're like me and love cinnamon, don't bother measuring it out, just start shaking it on until it seems like enough.
- I like to roll them a little thinner, so there is a higher percentage of filling to dough… like closer to 1/8 inch than ¼ inch thick. In the pics of the risen rolls below, the first one was rolled to a little more than 1/8-inch...
while the second was rolled to more like 1/4-inch thick (too much bread, not enough filling).
- The electric bread maker makes acceptable dough and is a good alternative for when you don’t feel like coddling the dough. Just throw your ingredients into the canister and walk away (use the sweet bread recipe included with your break maker).
-for caramel-topped cinnamon rolls, I prefer a caramel that isn’t cooked ahead of time, and one that contains butter, brown sugar, and milk or cream. Cooking ahead of time makes the caramel too hard and sticky and makes eating the rolls unwieldy and messy, IMO. The first picture had cooked topping. I had to throw them away, the caramel was so stiff and sticky...
while these had topping that was only warmed slighly beforehand (much better!)
- dental floss makes cutting the rolls a snap!
- folding the semi-rolled out dough first into a business letter shape, and then into three again gives you the best chance of ending up with something that most resembles a rectangle after being rolled out.
No doubt I’ll be a grandma someday too. I just hope my grandkids think my cinnamon rolls are as good as hers.
GRANDMA'S CINNAMON ROLLS
1 C. milk
½ C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 yeast cakes, or 2 packs active dry yeast, or 4 ½ tsp active dry yeast
4 C. sifted flour
½ C. melted butter
1 tsp. flavoring (I used vanilla)
½ C. melted butter, cooled
1 C. brown sugar, broken up to rid it of lumps (or more, to taste) or granulated sugar
Cinnamon – I actually didn’t measure. I just start shaking it on until it looks like enough. I’m guessing I used at least a tablespoon. Use what you like.
Caramel Topping (optional)
See recipe and instructions for the glaze in ----> this post.
Cream Cheese Icing (optional)
See recipe at the bottom of -----> this post.
Scald milk. Add sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to mixture, stirring until dissolved. (I put the ingredients in the bowl of my stand mixer and used it for the mixing.) Add beaten eggs and half of the flour. Mix. Add melted butter and beat thoroughly. Stir in remaining flour.
Turn onto lightly floured board. Let stand 10 minutes covered. (I left it in the bowl for 10 minutes.)
Knead 2 or 3 minutes until dough is smooth. (I used the dough hook and let the Kitchenaid do the kneading.) Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Roll out to a rectangle about 1/8 thick. Spread butter over dough, then sprinkle on cinnamon, followed by sugar. Roll into a tight log and slice into rolls around 1 inch thick.
Grease pan with pan spray. Prepare glaze topping, if using, and place in pan. Place rolls in pan.
Cover pan with saran wrap and let rolls rise until double in bulk.
Bake at 375-400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.
If using cream cheese icing, spread on the still-warm cinammon rolls.