Cinnamon rolls – the epitome of breakfast pastry, yet the perfect recipe can be so illusive.
Dry and crumbly is the worst offender in my opinion, followed by bland, over baked and lastly under baked. You see, there are a lot of ways to make a cinnamon roll not only unworthy of consuming the sugar and empty calories, but just a down right day ruiner. Is that overly dramatic? I think not. No, it explains it perfectly with no drama at all. Before you skip over to a more optimistic blog let me tell you, there’s only good news from here! Simple, divine, delectable, delicious cinnamon rolls can be yours with a minimal amount of effort, expense and dishes to be washed. Yep, a celebration, including cinnamon rolls, is in order.
Why would I start a blog post with such discouraging news? Because it makes what I am about to say so much more wonderful. Like so many others before me I have tried The Pioneer Woman’s mother’s cinnamon roll recipe and found it to be very satisfying.
So many factors go into whether or not I feel a recipe is actually a “keeper” recipe. After all, if something is out of this world fantastic, but requires 15 dishes, $100 worth of ingredients and three days to make, I might have a great story to tell, but I am not likely to make it a second, third, fourth time – you get the picture. My kids aren’t likely to make that type of a recipe with me and then make it with their kids either.
Well, this recipe is a keeper. As a matter of fact it is my new standard Christmas and birthday recipe which guarantees I will make it at least 6 times every year. Not only that, but I will be teaching my kids to make it as well.
There is something comforting about making dough. It’s not just the feel of flour on your hands, the smell of yeast, sugar and melted butter, the cinnamon dust getting in your nose, or the color and aroma of the final product, but all these things combined with knowing that in a few short hours the people you love most will know that you love them in a tangible and memorable way.
I try my best to ensure my children’s memories will be full of delicious smells and comforting tastes. Don’t you worry, I teach them about exercising self-control when it comes to sugar and flour, I don’t comfort them with food or withhold other forms of love and affection. I am not creating food or sugar addicts. It’s okay. They eat lots of whole foods, fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. You feel better now?
Now that you’ve calmed down, we can get into the recipe.
I have modified the original recipe slightly to include some whole wheat flour and reduce the amount of refined sugar. We absolutely loved them this way and I wouldn’t even consider making her recipe when the “healthier” version was so well received.
I also liked it much better when I made my rolls with twice as much dough as she said. It made for a fluffier and more moist end product (i.e. I got 12 rolls instead of 24 from my recipe, which is actually half of the original recipe)
Another thing – the frosting is one of the best parts of her recipe in my opinion. The combination of coffee and maple is surprisingly perfect for the rolls, but I have some non-coffee drinkers around here so I made a cream cheese version also. The packet of instant coffee from Trader Joe’s I included in my recipe gives the frosting the kick it needs to go over the top, but if you don’t have it certainly make the original recipe because you won’t know what you missed anyway.
Note: If you aren’t eating them fresh they taste so much better when reheated for 15 minutes in the microwave that I wouldn’t eat them any other way. If you somehow have leftovers, they will taste great for up to five days, which I cannot say for every cinnamon roll recipe I have tried.
If you’ve been following my blog I hope you have figured out I have a discriminating palette, am honest, and won’t waste your time on recipes that aren’t pretty fabulous. Go ahead, give this a shot. I bet you’ll create some great memories of your own.
Just make sure you leave your house and come back in sometime during the process. Aside from eating the rolls, walking into the smell is the best part. To which I can’t help but adding, my mom sold a lot of houses by making homemade bread or cookies right before the showing. In a pinch I think she would just put some vanilla in a pot of water on the stove instead.
Divinely Simple Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls 101
- 2 cups whole milk (this matters!)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 scant teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon, ground
- 3/4 cups coconut palm sugar
- Heat the milk, oil and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil – do not boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of the flours, stir just until combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place for about an hour.
- In the meantime, combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- After an hour, remove the towel and add the remaining dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (The original recipe says the dough is easier to work with if it has been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand, but I used it right away both times and had no problem at all.)
- For the filling melt the butter and set aside. Mix the coconut palm sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
- To assemble the rolls remove the dough from the pan. Using a lightly floured surface and rolling pin, roll it into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough will be very thin, but shouldn’t have any holes. Try to get it an even thickness all the way across.
- Pour the butter evenly over the dough, spreading it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar mixture evenly over the buttered dough, getting all the way to the edges.
- Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Once you reach the end, pinch the dough together and place it seam down onto your board.
- Using waxed, unflavored dental floss cut the log in half. Continue cutting each half in half until you have the desired amount and thickness of rolls. I went for 12 and put 6 in each greased, 8″ round pan. These will be big rolls, so you might want to do 24 rolls putting 8 each into 3 – 9″ round pans.
- Once you have them in the pan, cover the rolls with a clean kitchen towel and set them in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the towel and bake the rolls until golden brown, 15 – 18 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE the rolls.
- Make the frosting while the rolls are baking. As soon as the rolls come out of the oven, pour the frosting evenly over the hot rolls.
Coffee Maple Frosting Ingredients
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
- 2 teaspoons maple flavoring or maple extract
- 1 packet Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee all dressed up with cream and sugar
In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter and instant coffee packet. Stir to dissolve the coffee. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. The frosting should be somewhat thick but very pourable. Add any of the ingredients to adjust to your own taste. This amount of frosting will generously frost up to three 9″ round pans of rolls. If you make both types of frosting you will have extra.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 Tablespoons Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter and cream cheese until thoroughly combined. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. The frosting will be slightly thicker than the maple coffee frosting, but should be somewhat pourable. Add any of the ingredients to adjust to your own taste. This amount of frosting will generously frost up to three 9″ round pans of rolls. If you make both types of frosting you will have extra.