Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

My sister-in-law Sarah is embracing her inner baker. Strangely, she doesn't see this as a good thing. She reported yesterday that late winter compells her stay at home, bake and eat - but only because she is feeling too grumpy to do anything else. Her latest project was cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls are one of those recipes which makes a ton and is best right out of the oven. This puts the baker in a predicament. Should she try to find a way to preserve the rolls in a way that doesn't compromise the quality? Or use them up as quickly as possible? I find that freezing the rolls and microwaving them for 20 seconds is the next best thing to fresh. I always make a big batch of cinnamon rolls and, after we eat our fill, I freeze the rest to pull out in small portions for quick breakfasts on weekdays. Sarah prefers to have them out of the house entirely after the family's immediate tastes are satisfied. So she practices this lovely little technique, known by some as Sharing.

Sharing is one of the best parts of baking, in my opinion. My BFF Rebecca told me about a note in one of her local cookbooks, in which the recipe donor shared the story of Doughnut Day in her childhood home. The little girl watched her mother spend the morning making dozen after dozen of raised yeast doughnuts. It smelled of heaven on earth while she fried them all in the hot fat. Out came the sugar and cinnamon or powdered sugar to coat them. And then the dad would pile all the children in the truck to deliver most of them to nearby friends and neighbors. The family at home each got One Doughnut to enjoy.

Here is the recipe for Sarah's Cinnamon Rolls:

1 package dry yeast
1 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. margarine
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 c. flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in milk.
2. Add sugar, margarine, salt, eggs and flour to the yeast mixture. Mix well.
3. Knead with floured hands into a large ball.
4. In a covered bowl, let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to approximately 21 inches x 16 inches.
6. Melt 1/3 c. butter and spread over the surface of the dough.
7. Make a mixture of 1 c. packed brown sugar, 2 1/2 T cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough.
8. Roll like a jelly roll.
9. Cut into 1 3/4 inch slices.
10. Place in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes at 400.*

The Delicious Icing
8 T butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt

Beat until fluffy. Ice onto the hot rolls.

*Now, here is where Sarah showed her genius. Instead of putting the rolls together in a baking pan, she sliced the rolls a bit thinner and put each roll in a hollow of a muffin tin. This gave her perfectly round, uniform rolls and kept them to a manageable portion. The recipe claimed to make 12 rolls, but preparing them in this way yielded 24. Isn't that smart? These were also the SOFTEST cinnamon rolls I have ever had the pleasure of grubbing.

If 24 is too many, be sure to share with your sister-in-law.

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