"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How To Make Cinnamon Rolls

Well, here I am again.  It's mid-afternoon and the kids are at school and the house is quiet.  I should be at the gym right now, but the house is so warm and cozy and I'm comfortable here.  Maybe I'll go work out tonight, but who am I kidding.  I say it all the time, but I hate the house when it's quiet.  When will I stop thinking about who should be here with me?  Maybe when Garrett SHOULD be in first grade, I'll stop looking at the clock and thinking that he should be here, right now, at this very moment, telling me how bored he is and that he can't wait to be in school full time and eat in the big kid cafeteria. 

So for now, I bake.  This is my third batch of cinnamon rolls in four days and I've had a few people ask me how to make them.  So while I sit here and watch old episodes of "The Walking Dead", I'm thinking about the end of the world and making cinnamon rolls and I'll tell you exactly how I make them.  This is (what I believe to be) a Cinnabon copycat and they are darn good.  You'll need:

2 1/4 tsp yeast, or one package
1 C warm milk (remember from my last post, the temperature you'd bathe a baby in)
1/2 C white sugar
6 Tbsp softened butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 C white flour

1 C brown sugar
6 Tbsp melted butter
3 Tbsp cinnamon

6 Tbsp softened butter
2 oz softened cream cheese
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt

*I don't want to repeat myself on my bread making technique from my last post on making basic white bread.  I suggest you go back and read it about softening yeast, getting the oven the perfect temp, etc. 

First, let the yeast soften in the cup of warm milk for about three minutes.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the white sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and one cup of the flour.  When the yeast milk is ready, pour it into the butter mixture and get it really well combined.  Then one cup at a time, add in the additional flour.  Remember what I said about not overdoing it on the flour?  It's crucial with these rolls.  This dough will be a little sticky and soft but trust me, do not add additional flour.  Use no more than one extra tablespoon on the counter surface when you do the final kneading by hand.  Again, this will be a little softer and stickier than normal bread dough!  It will harden up a little when it rises.

Lightly grease a different bowl and put the dough in it to rise.  Put it in a warm oven (see previous post) and let it rise about an hour, or until doubled in size.  This dough will NOT get as big as bread dough, or even other roll dough, so don't get discouraged. 

After it's risen, punch it down and let it rest for about five minutes.  In the meantime, lightly flour the counter surface in preparation to roll the dough out.  Roll the dough out to approximately 10x20 inches.  In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling until well mixed.  Slather it on the rolled dough and use your hands to evenly spread it, almost to the edges.  Don't be afraid to get your hands really messy! 

Very gently, start rolling the dough up along the longer side.  Don't be in a hurry- you want it to me nice and even.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  With a butcher knife, cut off about half an inch on both ends of the roll to make it more even (discard those pieces).  Then cut it evenly into 12 segments.  Chances are the four segments in the middle will be slightly thicker than those on the ends, so those are the pieces you want on the OUTSIDE of the pan because they will need to get more heat.  Evenly space the 12 segments flat side down in the pan.  Whatever pieces feel smaller or lighter to you, put those in the middle of the pan.  Got it?  Heavier pieces on the outside?

Put the pan back in the warmish oven to rise for a second time.  In about 45 minutes, they are ready to bake!  Take them out of the oven while you preheat it to 350.  Then bake them uncovered for 22-25 minutes.  While they are baking, mix up the icing and be ready to slather it on the top as soon as they come out of the oven.  There, you just made cinnamon rolls!!!

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