Sunday, May 09, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Dad makes the best cinnamon rolls, so I thought I'd record the recipe, since now I think I have it nailed down (every time I call him, it's different!).

You use the same bread recipe that makes bread loaves, pizza crust, pitas, doughnuts, and just about everything else. It's a really versatile recipe.

1/4-1/3 c sugar (you can go as little as 2 Tbsp or as much as half a cup if you want the bread sweet)
1 1/2-2 tsp salt (more if you use more sugar)
1 tbsp yeast (this is approximately 1 1/2 of the little packets. I always measure it)
1/3 c oil
2 c hot (baby bath temp or up to 120 degrees) water
2 eggs (optional)
1/2 c mashed potato flakes or mashed potatoes (optional)
4 HEAPING or 5-7 level cups flour
6 tbsp powdered milk (optional)

1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, melted
2 tsp-1 tbsp cinnamon (depends on how much you like cinnamon)

Put the ingredients in the mixer bowl IN THAT ORDER. (If you don't, the powdered milk and potato flakes won't fully incorporate ever, leaving the finished product with a terrible texture). Mix until it is smooth and tender and not sticky. I usually let the kitchenaid have at it for 5 minutes or so. If it's still sticky at that point, add more flour, 1/2 c at a time, mixing well after each, until it is smooth, soft, and tender. For loaves, you can make it heavy and dense and it just makes bigger loaves, but for doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, aim for just barely not sticky after 5 minutes of mixing, very soft and tender. No need to knead.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot (I heat my oven to 150 degrees and then turn it off and put the dough in there so the kids won't touch it). Let raise for 2-4 hours, punching it down ever 30 minutes to keep it in the bowl.

When you're ready, divide the dough into two balls.  Mix the filling ingredients except for the raisins. Now, on an UNPREPARED surface (no flour or oil on the table or counter--you WANT the dough to stick), roll the dough out until it's just about 1/4" thick. It should make a very large rectangle--about the size of a cookie sheet. Spread the butter-sugar filling all the way to three edges of the dough in a nice thin layer, leaving the long end farthest from you with about 1-2 inches of un-sugared dough.  Sprinkle raisins evenly across the filling. I like to use a LOT of raisins. Some people prefer a few. Roll the dough from the long side nearest you, as tightly as you can without gushing the filling out (it takes a kind of lift-and-roll motion). When you get to the unsugared part, pull it up and over and pinch it to the rest of the roll to seal.

Now, taking about 18 inches of sewing thread, slide the thread an inch under the roll. Lift the ends of the thread, cross them, and pull. This should neatly (and without spilling filling) cut the dough. (Be careful, it sometimes catches raisins and flings them, much to the delight of children).  Cut the roll into 1 inch slices and set them gently into a greased 9x13 pan. You can usually get them all in by putting the small ones into a little group and letting the big ones sit on their own. Don't crowd them too much, though, because they have to raise. Cover them, set the pan in a warm place, and let it raise 30 minutes. 10 minutes before it finishes raising, preheat the oven to 400 so it's ready when the cinnamon rolls are!

While that first batch is raising, either form the second half of the dough into a loaf to bake (raise half an hour, bake half an hour at 350) or make another pan of cinnamon rolls.

When the oven is hot and the rolls are raised big and light, put them into the hot oven and bake 12-14 minutes. They should just BARELY show golden around the edges when they're done. Don't overcook.

Cool them in the pans. Some people like to frost them or glaze them (2 c powdered sugar with 2-4 tbsp milk, stirred smooth and drizzled over the tops of the rolls) while they're still warm. Other people like a good, fluffy frosting after they're cool. (The BEST cream cheese frosting for these is here:
m/easy-recipes/monkey-bread-recipe.html at the bottom, below the monkey bread recipe. Just be sure you beat it 12 minutes like the recipe says!)

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