Monday, December 26, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls. The end all. Be all. Amen.

Merry Christmas darlings! Was Santa good to you? Did you get the brand new Red Ryder Carbine-action BB Gun you were dreaming of, or your own personal equivalent?

I had a wonderful Christmas. Great food. Great gifts. Great family time. And as usual, I'm a little flattened that it's already gone. So today I'm trying to stay upbeat and reflect on what I loved about this year and how to make it last longer next year. These cinnamon rolls are a new tradition. I used to be a 'bread' person - making quick breads to give to friends and neighbors. But thanks to the Pioneer Woman - I'm now a cinnamon roll person.

I gave these away to my family when they came over Christmas Eve for them to eat on Christmas morning. There is nothing like them on this earth. As you eat them, you will wonder how the hell you made something as ridiculously delicious and amazing as these. And here's the kicker - it was easy. Time consuming, sure, but easy. And this is coming from someone who still hasn't mastered the art of pie crusts so trust me when I say I'm not a naturally gifted baker.

Just like her pizza dough, this is a semi fool proof dough. Very forgiving. Very laid back. All you need is a ton of clean counter space and a pair of blinders to distract you from how much butter goes into the recipe. But then again, I only make these at Christmas, so I say bring it on!

One of the thousands of reasons I love these is you can make them in stages, starting with the simple process of whipping the base together in a large lidded pot on the stove top. Once risen later on, you can just stick the top on and keep the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days until you have another chunk of free time to roll them out. The only trick is you CAN'T forget to check on the dough every couple of hours that first day in case it's risen up enough to lift off the lid. All you have to do is punch it down again and put the top back on - but if left it to its own devices for too long it just might take over your refrigerator. Dough is a little science fiction-y that way.

And even later, when you roll it out and assembled the rolls, you can refrigerate them again for a couple of days before you bake them off and ice them (just cover them well and be sure to set them out 15 minutes before baking so they can rise slightly in that final stage.)

Anyway - the fact that you can split up the process this way makes these much more manageable than the forthcoming recipe makes them appear. Here are couple more tips for this too good to be true recipe - and in the meantime - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Y'all!

* Don't be tempted to substitute a simpler icing for her recipe here. As great as the dough part is, the icing is the gilding of the lily. I could eat it out of an old shoe and be happy for it.
* I serve these with spicy sausage kolaches, you know, for a well rounded meal on Christmas morning. That recipe coming in the next post.
* You can add any variations you like to the filling - dried cranberries or cherries, pecans, etc. I think I prefer them plain as listed below with just cinnamon, sugar and butter.
* She has different amounts of butter in her online recipe for the icing than her book. I go by the book, as reflected here (mo butter mo better.)
* She says to not crowd the pan when putting these in the tins. This year I ignored her and found they came out doughier/softer when all pushed together versus having their own space. We like them this way (my husband always wants 'the middle' one) but if you like more a crust around the rolls then by all means space them out a little more, only giving 4 to 5 to each pan.

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 2 Hours | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 5-7 round pans full (a lot of people!)

Dough Ingredients:
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets (4 1/2 teaspoons)
8 cups (Plus 1 Extra Cup, Separate) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter - I use 1 1/2 cups, PW uses 2 cups
2 cups Sugar
Cinnamon, about 1/4 cup or enough to coat entire surface of rolled out dough
Several disposable round tins and plastic wrap to cover them with
1 (2 pound) bag Powdered Sugar
1 tablespoon Maple Flavoring or Extract
1/2 cup Whole Milk
3/4 cup Melted Butter (6 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
1/8 teaspoon Salt

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a large lidded pan/dutch oven over medium heat to just below a simmer (DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.) Set aside and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Use the dough right away, or place the lid on it and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

When ready to make the rolls, preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches (I live on the edge and do it all at once, rolling it into a 60 x 10 inch rectangle, but recommend splitting in half the first time you make these.) The dough should be rolled fairly thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly, or a pastry brush. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1-inch slices. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd (I overcrowd but I like them 'doughier.')

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until just light golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing generously over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds. Make them for a friend today! It’ll seal the relationship for life. I promise. - PW


Jenn said...

Merry Christmas!!! (ok, so better late than never, right??)
LOVE LOVE LOVE cinnamon rolls... I just made my first batch of them this year... they were good, but I must try these.. Ree never leads me wrong.. Nor do you :)

Lisa said...

Those look absolutely luscious. I bet you enjoyed every bite. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your rolls up. It'll be open till Monday night.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Thanks Miss Jenn! Happy New year to you and Chris!

Hello Lisa! Thanks for the nice note and invite - I'll link up tomorrow! Happy New Year!

Velva said...

Merry belated Christmas to you! Those cinnamon buns rock. When you mentioned that the dough is forgiving "laid-back" I actually considered taking a crack at it. I have shied away from these very type of desserts. I am afraid of working with dough (sigh),

Happy New Year to you! Looking forward to your 2012 posts.


Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Velva I promise you I am not a 'baker'. And I avoided yeast recipes like the plague until making PW's pizza dough a couple years ago which is also easy peesy. But the great thing about this recipe is it starts in a big dutch oven or lidded pot which takes a lot of the pressure off. You just stir everything, let it rise, then stir in some more flour. It really is easy. Let me know if you end up truing it and happy New Year to you!