February 28, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

Well friends, it is time for instruction on one of the best things I’ve ever made – homemade cinnamon rolls!  (And I’ve made some darn good things.)

We four in my family love a good cinnamon roll on a Sunday morning, and I have always loved the cans of cinnamon and orange rolls from the refrigerated section at the grocery store.  Recently, however, I forgot to pick up a can in time for a weekend breakfast (and I am not going to run to the grocery store at 7 a.m. on a Sunday to get one).  I decided this was no reason to miss out on Sunday morning cinnamon rolls.  Seriously, true story.

So, I pulled out my trusty and classic recipe book – the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  True to form, a recipe for cinnamon rolls, in its bread section, was there for my baking pleasure.  And as I discovered – a delightfully THRIFTY alternative to the store-bought version.

Think Pink!

Unfortunately, the recipe called for making your own bread for the rolls and I do not really like the long process of mixing, kneading, letting rise, punching down, letting re-rise, etc., a batch of dough.  No thanks.  [As an aside, there IS something fabulously satisfying about kneading and punching down a batch of dough.  Put it on your bucket list.]

I set my mind a-thinkin’ and before long, I remembered that I can make dough in my $1.50 breadmaker!  I didn’t follow the Betty Crocker cinnamon roll dough recipe, but decided to try the Betty Crocker buttermilk bread recipe we gave you here.  Turns out that was fine.  All I had to do was throw the bread ingredients into the bread pan, same as always, hit the ‘dough’ button, and wait an hour-and-a-half for the dough to be mixed, kneaded, let rise, punched down and let re-rise, all without me lifting a finger.

When the buttermilk bread dough was finished in my machine, I followed the Betty Crocker cinnamon roll recipe:

STEP ONE:  Cut the dough ball in half.  Put one half aside, sprinkle the piece you’re working with, and your kneading surface, with a bit of flour, and knead until it does not stick to your hands.  A couple of kneads are all that’s necessary.

STEP TWO:  Grab your rolling pin and begin to roll the dough into a rectangle.  Don’t worry if the dough seems like it keeps shrinking back into a ball and is being completely uncooperative.  Keep rolling it and it WILL start to roll into a rectangle, around 12” by 16”.  The dough will probably be about ¼” thick.  A little less is ok, just not so thin that it wants to tear holes.

Action shot - dough rectangle

STEP THREE:  Mix 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ¾ cup packed brown sugar and ¼ cup flour together with a spoon or fork.  Cut in 1/3 cup of a stick of refrigerator temperature butter until the cinnamon-butter mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  (‘Cut in’ means mix butter with the cinnamon mixture with two knives in a scissor motion or with a pastry blender.  A pastry blender is easier, but not necessary.)

STEP FOUR:  Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough rectangle with ½ of the cinnamon-butter mixture, leaving ¼ inch of one long rectangle end cinnamon-mix free.

Let's get ready to crumble! (high school cheer - kinda)

STEP FIVE:  Roll the top of the mix-covered long end of the rectangle toward you, forming a log.  You will be able to envision the circular layers of what a cinnamon roll looks like as you do this.  When you’ve rolled up to the mix-free end, stop rolling.  Starting at one end of the log, gently lift the mix-free end up a little at a time (the log will remain resting on the countertop) and press onto the log so that it seals and sticks the seam into the log.

I mean, look at it!

STEP SIX:  Spray (Misto!) a 9 x 13” (or whatever large baking dish you have; a couple of pie plates would work if you’re feeling sassy) baking dish with cooking spray.  Cut 1.5” long segments of the log and lay flat (ie. cinnamon roll-looking) into the pan, about 1” apart.  Some of the cinnamon-butter mixture will crumble out, but just avoid that as much as you can and be gentle.  When the log is cut, gather the mix that crumbled out and sprinkle over the rolls in the pan.


STEP SEVEN:  Repeat with second half of dough and second half of the cinnamon-butter mixture.

STEP EIGHT:  Leave the un-baked rolls out on the countertop for a couple of hours so the dough can rise a little bit.  You will see the rolls get a little bigger.  Don’t worry about the butter in the mixture – butter doesn’t go bad like other dairy products (in fact, Shaun and I leave a stick of butter in a covered butter dish out on our counter top at all times so it is easy to access and easy to spread whenever we want it).

DISCLAIMER – If you have any concerns about the safety of room temperature butter like I’ve described, feel free to put the rolls in the refrigerator at the end of Step 7.  They will cook fine, just not as big.

STEP NINE:  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes until your kitchen smells like cinnamon heaven and the rolls are golden brown.

STEP TEN:  While the rolls bake, whisk 2 tablespoons of milk with 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  I know, you will think ‘how in the heck will it all stir together with that little liquid?’  I did too, the first time I made this icing.  Much to my amazement, it turned into a creamy, drizzly icing dream.  (If you think it necessary to get the mix smooth, you can add a drop or two more of milk.)  When you pull the rolls out of the oven, drizzle with the icing until all the icing is used up.

STEP ELEVEN:  Enjoy!  And by enjoy, I really mean gobble down this cinnamon-y, gooey bit of heaven until either you pass out or the pan is empty.

So good, I forgot to take a pic when I took them out of the oven.

PREPARATION NOTE:  These rolls are obviously going to be prepared the day before you want to eat them for breakfast, or at least several hours before you want to eat them.  I am not a person who wants to get up at 5 a.m. on a weekend morning, so these are prepared a day ahead, pulled from the fridge in the morning, and baked at my leisure.  The rolls can be put right into the oven from the fridge.

USAGE NOTE:  For my family of four, one pan (or half of the rolls) are MORE than enough to feed us for breakfast.  At the same time I take the pan of rolls for baking out of the fridge, I take the other pan out of the fridge and freeze in individual rolls (wrap each in wax paper or plastic wrap so they don’t stick together) for use another time.  If you have a larger family or are cooking for guests, there will be PLENTY to feed everyone – about 20 rolls.

THRIFTY NOTE:  You already have all or most of these ingredients in your cupboard anyway.  This recipe calls for relatively small amounts of each ingredient, so the overall cost of a batch of 20 cinnamon rolls (which in my family is two meals) is less than $1.00.

Friends, I INSIST that you try making these.  You will enjoy them, obviously.  They take a little time, but they aren’t hard.  Even better, you will feel so smart and proud of yourself for having made homemade cinnamon rolls that you’ll feel like you deserve a medal for awesomeness.

PS - I had a chance to make these when Lori and Steve were here for WOM weekend.  They were super yummy, once again, and Lori couldn't believe how easy they are to make!  Superb!

PPS - As you have now had an opportunity to read Mission: Quantum Leap, you will draw the conclusion that homemade cinnamon rolls are no longer on the menu for these WOMS.  We laughed so hard when we realized the order of this post following Quantum Leap - 'we're changing our lifestyle and eating habits and guess what? we make kick-a** cinnamon rolls.'

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