Friends, the clock is ticking. I am just about 3½ months away from a big birthday. Big as in huge. 40.
Last July, when I turned 39, I set some goals for myself. Since I still have a few months to go, I will wait to fill you in on whether all the goals are met. (Here is a hint – yoga, yay! Croissants – not so much!). But now I can cross a big one off my list.
Every single time I go into Holly B’s Bakery I either get a cinnamon roll, or I regret not having gotten a cinnamon roll in addition to whatever delicious item I did get. If I did one of those free association exercises and you said, “Holly B”, I would no doubt say, “Cinnamon roll”. You get where I am going with this. Holly B = cinnamon roll. And yet, in all years I have owned her cookbook, I have never made them. I can partly blame it on the fear of finding myself in the house with a dozen or so cinnamon rolls and partly blame it on timing. You see, this recipe ends with the dreaded words, “Serve still warm from the oven”. How do you time that?
Now that I have made them, I kick myself for not just diving in sooner. It is not complicated. First you make a bread dough which needs to rise for an hour or so. Then you roll the dough out, do the brushing and sprinkling and the rolling back up. Then you slice and place on a baking sheet where they rise again for about 30 minutes. They bake for about 30 and then you eat them. Why did this sound so daunting? I wanted to bring these rolls over to a friend’s house for a post egg-hunting brunch. I made the dough and let it rise about and hour and a half before we left. I formed the rolls just before we walked out the door and let them finish their rise in her warm kitchen and bake in her oven. Then we feasted.
Back to that free associate exercise. If I say “cinnamon roll” and you think “Cinnabon” then I would not advise making these rolls. They have very little in common with those shopping mall monsters (sorry, I am biased). Remember, this is a bread recipe (that has a whole cup of whole wheat flour in it) which is rolled out, brushed with butter, sprinkled with two kinds of sugar, a full tablespoon of cinnamon, raisins, and sliced almonds. There is no icing and I wouldn’t want there to be. Because the roll itself actually tastes like something other than air, you actually want to taste that part. The roll is delightfully nutty from the whole wheat flour and the sugars caramelize just so. I always tell you how I don’t like nuts in my baked goods but I wouldn’t think of leaving those sliced almonds out. They are delicate and add a wonderful crunch and very subtle flavor.
I wanted to get a picture of me with both boys but the Easter egg hunting was a little too exciting for them to both stand still at the same time. Separate was the best I got.
One Year Ago: Marinated Chickpea Salad with Radishes and Cucumber
Holly B’s Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from With Love & Butter
Makes approximately 12 rolls
For the dough:
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. honey
1 package (2¼ tsp.) quick-rise yeast
2 tbsp. mild tasting oil (DT: I used canola oil)
Scant 4 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. milk powder
1¾ tsp. salt
For the Rolls:
Flour for dusting work surface
¼ cup (½ a stick) butter, melted
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Make the dough:
Swish together the water, honey, yeast, and oil in a roomy bowl. Now dump in the flours and lastly the milk powder and the salt. Mix these dry ingredients gently with your fingers without breaking through to the liquid below.
Now grab a wooden spoon and mix the dough vigorously until it’s just too stiff to continue. Either knead the dough with floured hands on a lightly floured surface or use a dough hook with a stand mixer. If the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour. If it feels too stiff, sprinkle with warm water. You will want a nice smooth dough – 2-5 minutes of kneading should be fine. Dust the ball of dough with a little flour. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Drape with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size. (This takes about an hour.)
Lay a sheet of parchment paper down on a 10×15-inch baking sheet.
Make the rolls:
Do not punch down the dough, but gently turn it onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll into a rectangle ¼-inch thick and approximately 10 by 25 inches with the short sides top and bottom. Check the underside of the dough frequently. Loosen any stuck spots and sprinkle on a little more flour. Brush the dough with the melted butter, coating well but not leaving puddles.
Combine the raisins, almonds, sugars, and cinnamon. Distribute the mixture evenly over the buttered surface, pressing down on the edges so the filling won’t fall off when you roll up the dough.
Starting at the short edge nearest you, roll up the dough, tugging gently to achieve a nice, snug long and keeping the edges even. Turn the log seam downward and use a serrated knife to slice the dough into 10-12 rolls. Place the rolls snugly in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy and doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Before the rolls finish rising, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the center position. Bake the Cinnamon Rolls for 15 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes more. The rolls should be light gold and no longer doughy inside. (DT: I think it’s best to check on the insides – mine looked done but were a little doughy.) Serve still warm from the oven.