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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls- Overnight or all at once

Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite desserts. So much so that two years ago I went on a recipe hunt and tried hundreds (okay, maybe 6 or 8) to find my favorite.  I never reached cinnamon roll perfection, but this recipe is the best tasting and most consistent of those I tried. I solicited recipes from lots of friends and the winner was from my friend Jeff's grandma. 

I made them again a couple weeks ago when I was struck with a craving on a Saturday night for a cinnamon roll breakfast the next morning. I didn't really feel like waking up early on a Sunday morning though. Luckily, this awesome idea for overnight cinnamon rolls popped up in my google reader feed the day before, so that's what I did!

I was originally going to try a cinnamon roll recipe from the Pioneer Woman's blog, but I kind of failed at the first step. After accidentally doubling the milk (quart to cup conversions are apparently not my strong point) and scalding and cooling the milk/oil mixture I realized my vegetable oil was rancid. After wasting half a gallon of milk, I did Grandma Jackson's cinnamon rolls instead, because they used shortening and that hadn't gone bad.

Don't leave your yeast sitting in the warm water too long or this will happen:

The yeast used to be in the smaller of those two measuring cups, but it overflowed and we had to put it in the bigger one, and then that almost overflowed!

The only thing I did differently from the recipe for the dough was in the rising. I let it rise an hour that night (for quicker rising the next morning). In the morning I rolled the dough out in two batches and after cutting the rolls, I let them rise for about 30 minutes in an oven that had been heated to 200 F and then turned off. 

I never really follow a recipe for cinnamon roll filling. I just melt a stick of butter (I never said these were healthy) spread that on and then sprinkle as much sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon as I think looks good. For the second batch of these I browned the butter with a vanilla bean and toasted some pecans for the filling. I wouldn't bother browning the butter again because the taste doesn't make it through the rest of the filling. 

Here's an idea of how much I put on:

If you've never rolled out and cut cinnamon rolls, here's a picture of what it should look like:

I used floss because I didn't feel like searching for my thread. 

You want to bake this recipe until it's barely golden brown. These went a little too long, but were still tasty:

We baked them three rounds at a time. I put the frosting on right after I got them from the oven for two reasons. 1. It fills in all the cracks and crevices that way so you get uniform frosting goodness. 2. I can't wait much longer to eat them. I used cream cheese frosting for the rolls with normal filling and maple frosting for those with pecans. They both turned out pretty good, but I think the classic combination was my favorite. This made about 50 rolls for us, so if you don't have a voracious appetite or lots of nearby hungry friends, you can definitely halve it for still a decent amount.

Here's Grandma Jackson's recipe as she wrote it:

Grandma Jackson’s Cinnamon rolls

Dissolve 2 pkg yeast (2 scant Tbs) in ½ C. warm water with 1 Tbs sugar.  Scald 2 C milk and add 1 C shortening and 1 C sugar to hot milk; let cool.  Add yeast and 3 to 4 C flour to cool milk mixture.  Stir, then add 6 beaten eggs and 1 ½ tsp salt and about 6 to 8 C flour to make stiff dough.  (Too much flour makes very tough rolls.)  Let rise 30 minutes.

Roll out dough about ½” thick.  Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 ½ C brown sugar mixed with 4 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts and/or raisins and “roll er up!” Cut in 1” thick rounds and let rise on greased cookie sheet for about 1 ½ hours. (Leave 1” to 2” between rolls.)

Bake 350 for 15 minutes.
Frost with white icing
Makes about 3 dozen

Hint:  to slice rolled up dough into individual rolls cut it with a thread – just like you’ve seen me do it!

My cream cheese frosting:

1/2 stick butter
1/2 package cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
2 t vanilla
Milk to obtain your desired consistency (I used 2 Tbs)

My maple frosting:

1 stick of butter
4 cups powdered sugar 
1 t vanilla
2 t maple flavoring
milk to obtain your desired consistency (I used 4 Tbs)

One parting warning:

I wasn't able to finish all the pans before church, so one got stuck in the fridge and they kind of deflated: 

They still tasted good, but if you want pretty cinnamon rolls, don't stick them in the fridge after you've cut them.


  1. these look so good! i'll have to try them sometime!
    also, i love that you started a cooking blog! you always have such great food!

  2. Those look sooo good! I gotta know how you stay so thin eatin' stuff like this...haha :)

  3. Thanks Katie, you're a real confidence booster!

    Haha! Sara, I'm not that thin, but I do share to spread the weight gain around ;)

    Also, we don't usually have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, just every once in a while.