The past two weekends the kitchen partner and I have hosted family for overnight stays. I love being the first one up in the morning on these days, sneaking down to the kitchen for a cup of tea and some quiet time before everyone’s up and ready for a day of fun. I also love having an extra special breakfast ready when our guests wake up. We almost always have Whole Grain Milling Pancakes, eggs and bacon, but on days when I’m awake extra early, I’ll even throw together a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon rolls are one of the many foods we Americans sacrificed taste and nutrition for a little more convenience. A few bucks will get you any of the pre-packaged, processed tubes of cinnamon rolls in the supermarket now. And yes these cinnamon rolls are ready in under 25 minutes, but they’re also full of sugar, preservatives, extra sodium, and artificial flavoring. Homemade cinnamon rolls take a little more time but the finished product is well worth it.
Our guests love sitting down to a fresh pan hot out of the oven. It’s a reminder of a time when we weren’t too busy to make a hot breakfast for family and friends. A time when homemade was the only way, and always better than pre-packaged. That breakfasts prepared with fresh, local ingredients are the best way to start a day.
Don’t trust all this warm fuzzy nostalgia? Follow these steps and make a pan of cinnamon rolls the next time you have family or friends overnight. In the morning I promise you’ll be getting rave reviews while your guests are peeling back the flaky layers and licking the last bit of gooey frosting off their fingers.
How to Make Cinnamon RollsÂ
1. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (no higher than 200Â°) to prepare a warm surface for the dough to rise. While the oven is heating, place 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) of active dry yeast in a large bowl.
2. Warm 1 cup of skim milk in the microwave to 110Â°F to 115Â°F. Yeast is fussy and needs to be babied with the perfect temperature. Any warmer than this and the milk will kill the yeast, and cooler than this and the yeast wont be warm enough to activate. Add the milk to the yeast and stir for 1-2 minutes or until the yeast is dissolved.
3. Add 2 egg whites, 1/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the mixture and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
4. While the mixer is running, add flour 1/2 cup at a time until it forms a soft, firm dough. This should take 2 1/2 to 3 cups total depending on your measurements. Dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl or your fingers.
5. Knead dough for 6-8 minutes on a well-floured surface (or use the bread hook on the electric mixer to knead dough) or until it is smooth and elastic. Don’t worry about over-kneading, this type of dough can stand up to a firm walloping.
6. Place dough in a large bowl sprayed lightly with non-stick spray. I use a large mixing bowl that’s marked with measurements. This helps to figure out when the dough has indeed doubled. Turn the ball over once in the bowl to coat the top of the dough and cover with a light towel. Allow dough to rise on the warm stove top until doubled. This typically takes about an hour depending on how warm your stove top surface is. If your kitchen does not permit this location, choose a warm dry place away from any drafts or cooling air flow.
7. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Combine 1/2 cup of brown sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. I also add 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the filling if my guests enjoy nuts.
8. When dough has doubled, punch it down firmly in the middle to release any gas buildup. Divide the dough into 2 large pieces and prepare each one separately using the following: Roll the dough into a 12″ by 9″ rectangle using a rolling-pin. Brush the flattened dough with a few tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with filling mixture.
9. Carefully roll up the dough in a tight jelly roll starting with the long side. Place the edge seam down on the table. Using dental floss or a piece of thin string, cut each roll into 1 1/2″ slices.
10. Place the slices in a greased 9 X 11″ baking dish, cut side down to maintain the shape. Cover again with the light towel and allow to rest for another 35-40 minutes.
11. Bake at 350Â°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Do not allow edges to burn. While rolls are still hot, apply a frosting made from 1 cup of powdered confectioner’s sugar and 2-4 teaspoons of skim milk whisked together. Drizzle over rolls and serve warm.