Growing up, almost every Sunday morning before church, our family would sit down to a breakfast of hot cinnamon or orange rolls. We would wake up and my parents would preheat the oven and throw a pan of cinnamon rolls in the oven. We'd get dressed and by the time we were ready, the rolls were coming out of the oven and quite often my mom would have whipped up a batch of frosting for the top of them. What good memories I have of those days.
I have decided to start a family tradition of gifting cinnamon and orange rolls to my neighbors and friends at Christmas time. What a fun gift to give that can either be eaten immediately, frozen and saved or eaten for Christmas morning. My family enjoys walking around to each of our neighbor's homes and delivering the rolls with a little note that includes reheating instructions and Christmas blessings.
Now, when I make cinnamon rolls, I go back and forth between using my mom's recipe and Pioneer Woman's recipe. They're both good and turn out about the same. When I use Pioneer Woman's recipe, I don't heat it on the stove like she says to do. I just use hot milk and mix in my mixer. It's a big recipe for my little mixer but I make it work. One recipe of Pioneer Woman's makes about 7-8 pans of rolls. One recipe of my mom's rolls makes about 3 pans. Here's the recipe I grew up with. It's called Army Sweet Basic Dough because it's a recipe that was used in the Army for their sweet rolls.
Army Sweet Basic Dough
*Set 2 sticks of butter out to soften for later*
In a small bowl, mix and let stand until foamy:
3/4 cups hot water (as hot as you can get your tap water and not burn yourself)
2 packages yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
1 Tablespoon sugar
In large mixing bowl: cream together (with cake beater):
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
After creaming above mix, add and cream together:
1/4 cup milk
Add yeast mixture and:
2 cups flour
Mix well. Switch to a dough hook.
2 cups additional flour (knead for a long time to break down gluten). I usually add another 1-3 cups of flour at this stage until the dough pulls away from the wall of the bowl. There shouldn't be flour in the bowl that can't be absorbed but if it's sticking to the walls of the bowl, you can add more flour. Don't go crazy with it though. If it sticks a little, it's okay.
Preheat oven to warm for 5 minutes. Grease the bowl, flip the dough to coat both sides with oil (prevents drying out). I generally just spray it with my aerosol spray. Cover with a cloth. Let rise 2-3 hours until doubled. Punch down the dough and let rise for 10 minutes. (If you try to roll it out right away it'll tend to pull back in on itself due to the gluten. Allow the gluten to rest for a short while and it'll be much easier to roll).
Get 2-3 cake pans ready. In each pan put 1/4 cube of melted butter in each pan and 1/4 cup of brown sugar (sugar is optional...butter is not).
Pour dough onto floured pastry cloth or work surface. Using a large, sharp knife, press to cut dough in half. Return half to your bowl. Shape other half into a rectangular shape with your hands and then roll out evenly. At this point, the dough should not be sticky. Use enough flour to make sure it doesn't stick to your work surface or rolling pin. You shouldn't have to add much if you added enough prior to rising. Work the corners out so you don't end up with an oval. You want a large rectangle.
Once you have your rectangle, spread 1/4 cup or so of soft butter over the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, sugar and sprinkle with raisens. The cinnamon and sugar should cover the entire surface. Roll up and cut in half. Keep cutting your sections in halves until you have the size rolls you want. This helps you end up with even sized rolls. Mine are usually only about 1 inch wide when I place them in my pans. *(be sure to put them in pans with butter/sugar on the bottom). Remember, they will rise and spread. I usually end up with 24-36 rolls depending on how I cut them. Don't crowd your pans. I will usually put 6-8 rolls/pan. Think about the size of your family when you place your rolls. If you have 4 people, maybe make pans of 8. We used to use some larger cake pans and put 12 rolls in them so we'd each get 3 rolls to eat. The point is, it's flexible. There's no perfect number.
Place pans in a warm oven and let double in size for 30-60 minutes. The rolls should fill the pan at this point. Remove from oven and preheat oven to 350.
Because we usually weren't eating them right after we made them, we cooked them and then reheated them later which is what the following directions are for. We would always bake our rolls for about 15 minutes until cooked through. (They're a little undercooked at 15 minutes bit still edible. If you want to fully cook them, I'd leave them in for 20-25 minutes). Lay out about 2-2 1/2 feet of tinfoil and flip pan upside down on to the center of the tinfoil. Scrape any remaining sugar from the bottom of the pan and roll up the sides of the tinfoil to close. Turn and wrap with one more layer of tinfoil on the other side. Allow to cool and then you can freeze the rolls in the tinfoil and then just thaw, and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes while still in the tinfoil. This way, you have your pans free for other uses. After you reheat the rolls, unroll the tinfoil, place a plate on the bottom and flip over. Your rolls are now face up and ready for frosting.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
Drop of almond extract
(Personally, I always like a good cream cheese icing but this one's easy and works good as well)
Variation: Orange Rolls
My mom would switch back and forth between cinnamon and orange rolls. As a child, I preferred the cinnamon rolls but now I really enjoy the orange rolls as well.
Make everything as normal but instead of cinnamon, sugar and raisens, use the following filling and a different icing to create orange rolls.
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
Stir together and sprinkle over buttered dough
Orange Glaze Icing:
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
I hope you have fun making cinnamon rolls for your family and make many wonderful memories!