Friday, April 17, 2015

Perfect (and easy!) Cinnamon Rolls

We are normally cereal people for breakfast (and snacks, and occasionally supper.  Really, who has never had cereal for supper at least once in their life??).  We have frozen muffins and toaster waffles on hand on when Matt's running late or Luke is being picky but the majority of the time it's cereal.  I love cereal.  I'm currently eating a box of raisin bran and then something a little cheaper (like Aldi cheerios) and then raisin bran.  My all-time favorite is Blueberry Morning which, to my great dismay, I can't find in any store and haven't for years.  My sister came across boxes at an Amish store and has strict instructions to buy me about 20 boxes if she ever gets that lucky again (they were $1 each, so stocking up is easy).  I get way more excited about a bowl of cereal than I should.

However, there are mornings that call for something more than cereal.  And that usually means more sugar.  We try to do special breakfasts on our lake trips, one Sunday a month, and for holidays (mainly Christmas and Easter).  These cinnamon rolls are in high rotation for those days, particularly lake trips.  I was worried that the dough would be difficult to roll and work with but it wasn't!  It was super easy to mix up, rolled up quickly after rising, rise again when formed, and then bake.  I've made these more times than I can count since last summer, even gifting some to my family as "stocking stuffers" (which obviously didn't fit in the stockings). They may have even been a lake trip last summer where all we took were cinnamon rolls, frosting, milk for Luke, and beer.  Maybe.  I will neither confirm or deny.  =)

I've always baked them ahead of time, refrigerated the baked rolls, and then just microwaved briefly before adding the frosting.  At the source are instructions for making ahead of time but baking in the morning, if you are up for trying that.  I would probably sleep through any alarm to get the cinnamon rolls out of the fridge early in the morning and then we'd be stuck eating cinnamon rolls for lunch (which really isn't the worst problem...).  I've also frozen baked rolls for many weeks and just let thaw in the fridge the day before serving.  That has worked fine too.  We will most definitely have many batches of these in the freezer once lake season comes again! 

These are made with just pantry staples so make a batch this weekend!  

Perfect Cinnamon Rolls
serves: 14-16 rolls
For the dough:
6 1/2 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 TB butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract
3 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8 cups - 1 1/4 cups whole milk

For the filling:
6 1/2 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the frosting:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
6TB - 1/2 cup room temperature milk

1) Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on medium speed.  Whip in the egg and extract until combined.  Add the flour, yeast, and milk, mixing on low speed until a soft dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft, tacky but not sticky (add little bits of flour or water if needed to achieve this consistency).

2) Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.

3) Lightly mist the counter with spray oil and turn out the dough.  Roll out with a rolling pin, dusting with flour if needed.  Roll into a rectangle approximately 18 inches wide by 9 inches tall.  You don't want to roll the dough too thin because you'll get tough rolls instead of nice fluffy ones.

4) Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of the dough and roll into a log, starting on the long edge nearest you and ending with a log 18 inches long.  With the seam side down, cut the dough into rolls approximately 1 1/4 inches wide.

5) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer the cut rolls to the sheets, keeping them about 1/2 inch apart, not touching.  Let proof at room temperature for about 75-90 minutes, until they have once again doubled in size; they should be nice and plump.

6) Preheat the oven to 350°.  Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown (I do both sheets at the same time).  Cool the rolls on the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

7) To make the frosting, add 6TB of milk to a bowl of powdered sugar, using a fork to stir quickly.  Only add more milk if needed to make a smooth paste.  Stir in the extracts.  Use the fork to drizzle over warm rolls. 


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