fun: recipe for cinnamon rolls

Almost as good as that expensive store in the mall, which I won’t name. These are less expensive and you don’t need to stop eating at one. There is a recipe in our house that I’ve been playing with. So far, everyone loves these and they are reasonably easy, especially if you have a bread machine.

I have noticed that there is a difference between butter and margarine. Using butter in the bread dough gives it a delicate texture without being crusty greasy that margarine does. But using margarine in the filling and frosting makes it more sweet than butter. So I selected margarine and butter in specific places below. Or if you want you can go all butter.

Plan ahead to take the margarine and butter (all 3 sticks) and cream cheese out of the fridge in plenty of time to warm to room temperature before using.

BTW, “tsp” means teaspoon and “tbsp” means tablespoon. Read carefully.

Bread machine dough:

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature, slightly mushy)
  • 1/4 cup dry milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp yeast

If you are not letting this sit uncooked for a long time, you can substitute the water and dry milk for 1 cup of regular (wet) milk, if that is easier for you.

Dump all the above items at once into the bread machine and run the dough cycle (mix and knead, not bake). Prepare a flat surface like a clean countertop where you can roll the dough. You’ll want to flour-dust the surface so the dough doesn’t stick to it. Take the dough out of the machine and roll it out. Aim for a rolled-out rectangle of bread dough that is approximately 12″ x 24″. It’s OK if it isn’t a perfect rectangle.

Filling:
Take a 1/2 stick of margarine or butter (room temperature, slightly mushy) and evenly spread it across the entire dough surface using a spatula or similar. Go all the way to the edges. In a bowl mix 2 cups brown sugar and 3 tbsp cinnamon (ground). Brown sugar works much better than white granulated sugar, and common ground cinnamon is fine. Use a fork to mix them together in the bowl and break up the brown sugar lumps by squishing them. Dump the mixture on the buttered dough surface and evenly spread it around the entire surface with a spatula or similar, all the way to the edges.

Roll up the dough, using the long side of the rectangle: the roll should be 24″ long when complete. Keep the roll reasonably tight instead of saggy. When done, you should have a roll that is 24″ long and about 3″ in diameter. Using a steak knife or other good cutting instrument that cuts without too much squishing or ripping, gently cut the roll into pieces about 1 3/4 inches wide. You may wish to discard the two end pieces you cut from the roll, because they are uneven, but only if you are a perfectionist. Otherwise dunk them in cinnamon sugar and put them in the baking pan too. I would recommend a spray of Pam on the baking pan, even though there are already 2 1/2 sticks of butter present. Gently place all the cut pieces into a baking pan on their flat cut side. When placing in the pan, try to avoid letting the cinnamon sugar filling fall out. The rolls should be spaced out in the pan. It should fill about a 9×9 pans plus a 9×13 pan. Give the dough time to rise, so that the rolls in the pan are starting to touch each other. Placing the pans in a 150 degree oven may help the rising process if you are in a hurry. Cover the pan while rising to keep the dough from prematurely drying.

If the rolls fail to rise, then the filling will run out and pool on the bottom of the pan during cooking. If this happens, take the rolls out of the pan quickly after they are done cooking, then the pooled filling while it is still soft can be scraped off the bottom of the pan and mushed on the top of the rolls. If the pooled filling cools in the pan, then it acts like dried epoxy. It’s better to budget at least a couple hours for rising so you don’t get pooled filling.

Bake the rolls at about 385 degrees until the the bread dough on top starts to show a bit of toasty brown. You don’t want them to overcook, as the bread could turn dry. You want them to stay a bit moist, with a very slight hint of dough. Take them out of the oven to cool a bit. Let them cool inside the cooking pans, they will soak up some of the melted filling. While they are cooling, work on the frosting.

Frosting:

  • 4 oz of cream cheese (room temperature, half of a standard 8 oz package)
  • 1 stick of margarine/butter
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Put all these ingredients into a bowl and blend with a motorized mixer until it changes from dusty clumpy to smooth moist frosting. You might want to add a bit more vanilla extract for some more flavor.

After the rolls go from hot to warm, apply the frosting. If you put the frosting on while hot, the frosting will melt completely, which probably isn’t what you want. Eat them soon after applying the frosting, while they are still warm. All of them, which is why some friends or neighbors should be present or within delivery distance. This ain’t health food, it’s happy food.

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