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Friday, November 16, 2012

Mom's Cinnamon Rolls

These rolls are ready for baking!
So, I posted this photo on FB and cannot believe the response. I heard from friends that have dropped out of FB and disappeared! What is it about cinnamon rolls that does that to people? The spicy sweet smell as they bake in the oven? The yeasty earthy smell as they rise before baking? Or just that yummy, warm, sweet first bite???

I've been making these rolls with my mother since I was old enough to stand on the kitchen stool and reach the counter. And my daughters have been making them for just about as long. Now my girls have found all kinds of additions to dress up these simple cinnamon rolls and they are still a bite of heaven! I've stuck to the original, simple recipe that my mother gave me. I'm kinda' simple myself!!

I will do my best to put the recipe down in words. You know how recipes are... dependent on the weather, humidity, mood of the baker, etc... Mom always used the basic recipe (kinda') but the important parts are passed on orally. That part you learn from your mom. But I will try to pass on in written form the wisdom of Yoda the bread maker!

This recipe takes time because it is a bread and needs to rise. However, it is not labor intensive or difficult! Start it in the morning so you have plenty of time. It also is best if you just ignore it most of the time and let it do the work. I used to worry over the dough and found that just gave me indigestion and did not help the dough!  I hope you will try it out!

Ingredients for the dough:

2 packages yeast (I use the regular due to altitude but closer to sea level you might like the rapid rise)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
6-8 cups flour (I like bread flour but all purpose works also)

Ingredients for the topping:
1/2 to 3/4 cups brown sugar
2-4 tablespoons cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons melted butter


Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together (I usually do this in a large 4 Cup measuring cup):
lukewarm water (just so it is not cool or hot when you test with finger)
milk (I warm this to lukewarm temp in the micro)

Sprinkle the yeast into the mixture, stirring gently until dissolved. "Remember, yeast is a living thing and does not like to be handled roughly!", I can hear my mother saying!


I do this step in the mixer with the bread dough hook:

Crack and beat 2 eggs in a separate bowl before adding to the mixer bowl (that will save you from fishing out eggshells or bad eggs) with 1/2 cup shortening. This will not mix entirely but will have clumps of shortening in the eggs. Don't worry, it will mix during the next steps.


Mix the yeast mixture into the egg/shortening. Start adding flour by the cupfuls. I usually need/knead (cute, huh?) about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups with the final flour being mixed on the floured board by hand. This is the babies bottom point of the recipe. The dough should not be dry but should be elastic and slightly damp like the previously mentioned baby. It should not stick to your finger when you touch it or that baby needs more powder!
Round your little baby and place in a large bowl that has been sprayed with a baking spray.


After the second rising (yes, you let it rise for an hour or more in a warm place to about double size, then knead it on the flour board, round it up, and let it rise again-this is the part that takes time but you can be off reading a magazine, having a glass of wine, talking to your buddies, or facebooking and still pretend that you are working!) you will knead the dough one more time and split in half. Roll the dough out on the flour board to about a 20 x 10 inch rectangle or about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the melted butter on the dough rectangle, then cinnamon, then brown sugar. Just a light layer, not too thick. If it is too thick it will melt out the bottom of the roll as it bakes and make a terrible mess. I know, I've done it way to many times. "You know, more is not necessarily best!"

Roll the rectangle starting from the long side. Fold over the ends as you roll (my mom would say pinch but I don't think that really works, sorry Mom!)

Slice the rolls about 3/4-1 inch thick and place them in greased/floured pans (you know spray with baking spray! Ah, the modern conveniences!). Make sure there is some room between them but not a ton. You want the dough to expand out not up too much. Place them in a warm place and let them rise another 15-30 minutes until light. Go do your nails while you are working so hard (don't you just love yeast breads?)


Bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Rolls should be fairly dark brown on the top and have a little crust to them but spring back when you touch the mid rings (between the edge and the middle dome).

STEP 6 (Optional)

I usually de-pan the rolls now and place them in plastic bags to store. I might frost them first or just keep some on had to frost as needed.

Make a loose, not quite runny buttercream frosting and use rum extract instead of vanilla for the flavoring. Drizzle this over the cinnamon rolls. You can leave them bare (Kelly's and Megan's favorite) or smear them with tons of frosting (Mike's and Chris's way). You can store these in the freezer until you need them and put them in the oven to warm when you are ready to fool your guests into thinking you just baked them!! My mom would add a few dabs of butter on top of the rolls before heating them and they were heavenly (however, full of calories, but who is counting now anyway??).

Baked, bare, and bagged! Yummy!
These are a holiday favorite in my family and always bring back memories of my childhood. I enjoy sharing them with family, friends, and neighbors who are always so impressed like I worked all day on them! Shhh, don't tell!

P.S. Let me know how they work for you and if you have any questions. I will try to take pictures next time to help you along the way. I did not plan to post this so pictures were not even considered at the time of baking. Sorry!


  1. love it! I can remember when Meggo started making these with you. she was immediately so good at making yeast breads...I think I had trouble with all the WAITING...hmmm...still do! Love you

  2. Wow, I love this recipe! I have made cinnamon rolls before but these sound amazing! Thank you Kitty!