How about a cinnamon roll to go with that cup of winter?

It’s taking me a while to move into the New Year. I can’t explain it, so I’m not going to waste my time—or yours—trying to figure out why. 

I’ve chosen to offer up a bit of winter living fun for this week, instead of trying to conjure up some forced content, intent, wisdom, or other cute-ism—when it really doesn’t want to come this week. 

Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. 

When I was a kid we used to fill our snow-vacation days with sledding—and baking. The snow and winds flew furiously outside—and the recipe card box and electric mixer dominated the kitchen counter. If the memory doesn’t fail me, I believe the first pineapple upside down cake I made (a real one—nothing from a store-bought kit) took place during one of the many raging blizzards NW Iowa used to get. It is a fine memory, and my early culinary training was well served by glorious, knee-deep winter storms that shut our school system down for days at a time. We rarely get those levels of blizzards any more where we live now. 

When the snow finally found its way to Iowa last week the baking bug hit, and thoughts of homemade cinnamon rolls became too much for me to resist. 

This week I share the recipe I acquired during my 8th grade baking class. The class was segmented into baking teams—four girls to a team. The results of our individual team efforts ranged from gi-hugic rolls rising over the top of the pan, tender and fairly delicious–to pathetic little gut bombs that never had a fighting chance and would have made fine cinnamon-flavored adobe bricks. 

I’m also sharing a more convenience-food type of recipe approach to cinnamon pull aparts for those who might not want to try their hand at mixing up sweet dough from scratch. 

Really—what could possibly be better than fresh hot just-made cinnamon rolls from the oven, while the snow overtakes everything outdoors? 

Easy Cinnamon Roll Sweet Dough 

2 c. warm water

2 pkgs. dry yeast

½ c. sugar

2 tsp. salt

6-1/2 to 7 c. flour (I find that 6-1/2 is plenty)

1 egg, beaten

¼ c. very soft butter 

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 2 cups of flour. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg and softened butter, and then continue adding in the remaining flour. 

Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise. 

Roll out the dough into 12 x 15 inch rectangles; brush on generous amounts of melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, before rolling up jelly-roll style and cutting into individual cinnamon rolls—the size of your choosing. 

If you wish to make caramel rolls, combine the following ingredients in a heavy pan, bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved and then pour into the bottom of your prepared baking pan before placing the cut cinnamon rolls on top to rise. 

Caramel: 

1 c. brown sugar

2 Tbls white syrup

2 Tbls butter

1 Tbls water 

Let the rolls raise 45-60 minutes before baking at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, careful not to let the tops get overly brown. 

If you used the caramel, turn the rolls upside down while still hot to remove them from the pan and allow to cool on waxed or parchment paper. 

Frost with simple white icing, if desired.  

Pull-Aparts

 

2 loaves frozen bread dough                 ½ c. brown sugar

½ butter                                                        ½ cup sweetened condensed milk

½ c. white sugar                                         Cinnamon

Thaw the bread dough; cut into 1-inch pieces and place in a 9×13-inch pan. Combine the remaining ingredients and heat until the butter is dissolved. Allow to cool. 

Pour the mixture over the pieces of bread dough in the pan and let rise until dough reaches the top of the pan. 

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Frost with simple white frosting and chopped nuts (if desired). 

If you plan to freeze these, hold off on frosting them until you are ready to serve.