Monday, November 30, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream...

...of cinnamon rolls. My very-special, Christmas morning, to-die-for cinnamon rolls, to be exact.

Clearly, my subconscious is telling me something. Time to gear up for the holiday baking!

I generally only eat these rolls once a year on Christmas morning, because they are very sweet; plus sometimes, the wait is as perversely satisfying as the indulgence itself. Also, they are inextricably linked to the holidays and are laden with memory.

The smell of a batch of cinnamon rolls in the oven evokes those wonderful childhood memories of looking at the impossibly tall, sparkling tree sitting atop a ton of presents; our impatience as my sister and I did our best to wait until an appropriate hour, say 5:30 or 6 to dash into our parents' room and pull their covers off in order to get them out of bed so we could get to the cinnamon rolls and stocking gifts. It's a long-standing family tradition, sitting at the table eating fresh cinnamon rolls slathered with cold butter and tearing into our stocking gifts.

They can be labor-intensive to make if you're not really into baking with yeast dough, but they are so worth your time and effort. I have posted this recipe at another forum over the years, and have gained converts each time.

A word of warning, have a vial of insulin handy. You may also want to opt out of the icing or use a lighter hand when drizzling it on if you can't tolerate sweets.

You can make these the morning of, if you're a super-early riser; otherwise, if your Santa duties leave you begging for the chance to sleep in, you can make them the night before and let them rise overnight in the fridge.

Cinnamon Rolls


For the Dough:
  • 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups All Purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ stick butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 egg

  • For the Filling:

  • 2 T butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts

  • For the Honey Butter Icing (my favorite):

  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 2 T honey

  • or

    Cream Cheese Icing (for you proles out there):

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt


  1. In a large bowl, combine ¾ cup of flour with the ground oats, granulated sugar, yeast and salt.

  2. Heat milk, ½ stick butter and water until warm- NOT hot-about 120° F. Be sure you check the temperature with an accurate thermometer- if the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast, then no lovely risen dough!

  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet to dry ingredients and mix 2 minutes at medium speed with a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

  4. Add the egg and an additional ½ cup of flour; beat another 2 minutes at high speed.

  5. With a spoon, add enough remaining flour to form a soft ball of dough. Knead on lightly floured surface for 5 minutes, until smooth.

  6. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough.

  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to an 18x8 inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter.

  8. Take the raisins, walnuts and brown sugar and grind in a food processor about 5 seconds. Mix in a bowl with cinnamon. Then sprinkle this on top of the buttered dough, to within ½ inch of the sides.

  9. Roll up, from the long side, until you’ve got a long snake-like roll. Pinch the seams tightly and then cut into 9 equal pieces.

  10. Place, cut side up, in a greased 8x8 inch square baking pan.

    If you are making them the night before: At this point, you can place the pan in the fridge and let sit overnight. In the morning, take out the dish and let come to room temperature before proceeding with baking.

    If you are not making them in advance: Simply cover with a towel and let them rise in a warm place again, for 45 minutes

  11. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes or until done. Let the pan cool on a wire rack.

  12. Make the icing by mixing together the ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Then drizzle over the rolls.

  1. Now the times I've made these and let them sit overnight in the fridge, I've never had any trouble getting them to rise by the time they go in the oven, but I found this tip from Alton Brown for getting those rolls cold from the fridge to rise a bit more. I think I'll give it a try this year and see if it makes any difference:
    Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

  2. This year, I believe I may halve the recipe for the honey-butter icing. It's so lovely, but too much of it drowns the rolls.

    See? Check the picture. -->

    They are drowning in the icing. It is oh-so sinfully good, but the part of me that wants to feed us healthy food cringes.

  3. I am also giving serious thought to perhaps halving the entire recipe and seeking out a smaller pan. This pan is an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. 9 large rolls is an awful lot of wonderful sweet, cinnamony goodness for one Mommy and two girls to eat. We never eat them all on Christmas morning. I haven't tried freezing the leftovers. I think I'd rather attempt a smaller batch. Perhaps a small casserole dish might do the trick.


  1. De bien belles brioches et en plus à la cannelle.
    J'aime beaucoup.
    A bientôt.


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