Cinnamon Rolls

I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls. There are a couple recipe in Marlys’s Recipe Books; one was my Mother’s recipe and one was given to us by Marlys’s step-mother Margaret W McBryde. Both require kneading the dough, and as I have said, that is a skill of which I am lacking. I make my bread dough in the stand mixer with a dough hook.

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Then I thought outside of the box; I make a good cinnamon bread, so why can’t I use the bread dough to make the cinnamon rolls. It is really just a case of which way you roll the dough up after spreading the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. So that is what I did. I took the baking temperature and time from Margaret’s recipe.

The problem I ran into was that the dough to make 2 loaves of cinnamon bread is enough to make 4 dozen cinnamon rolls. So, I had a couple alternatives. The worst would be to try to cut the recipe down; the kneading action of the dough hook might require as much dough as the recipe specifies. A second alternative was to save part of the dough in the refrigerator or freezer, and then bring it back to room temperature to roll it out. Neither alternative was especially appealing to me.

More recently, I have been working with the croissant dough, and it does not require kneading or a stand mixer; it is a simple dough but can be used in many ways. I decided to try making it without the butter between the layers of dough, and it works. I have also determined that cinnamon rolls can be cooked in many types of pans. Because there is no mixer or kneading required, anyone can make this recipe. The only real end difference I can find between this recipe and the ones in Marlys’s Recipe Books is that the resulting rolls are slightly smaller; in the Recipe Books, a dozen cinnamon rolls are made with 4 cups of flour while this recipe uses less than 2 cups of flour.

No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope of dry active yeast
  • 3 Tb warm water (not over 100 degrees)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup milk warmed to tepid in a small sauce-pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tb tasteless salad oil

Directions

  1. Mark the outside of a 3 – 4 quart mixing bowl for measures needed later.
    The 2 cups of dough is to rise to 3 1/2 times its original volume, or to 7 cups. Later the dough will rise to double its original volume. To tell when the dough has risen enough, the outside of the bowl is marked. Fill the bowl with 4 cups of water, and mark the outside to tell where double the original volume is. Now add 3 more cups of water for a total of 7 cups and again mark the outside to tell where 3 1/2 the original volume is. Pour out the water, and dry the bowl.
  2. Mix the yeast in the warm water with the 1 tsp sugar and let liquefy completely while measuring out the rest of the ingredients.

  3. Dissolve the 2 tsps sugar and the salt in the tepid milk.
  4. Measure the flour into the mixing bowl. When the yeast is liquefied, pour it along with the milk mixture and oil into the flour. Blend the elements into a dough by cutting and pressing with a rubber spatula, being certain all bits of flour are moistened.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a kneading surface scraping the bowl clean. Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 minutes. The short rest allows the flour to absorb the liquid; the dough will be quite soft and sticky.
  6. Wash and dry the bowl while the dough is resting.
  7. Start kneading by lifting the near edge of the dough, using a scraper or spatula to help, and flipping it over onto the other side. Rapidly repeat the movement from one side to the other and end over end 8 to 10 times until the dough feels smooth and begins to draw back into shape when pushed out. This is all the kneading it should have; it should give the dough just enough body so it will hold together when eventually rolled, but still not over-activating the gluten and making the dough difficult to handle. Put the dough into the bowl.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic and an insulating blanket like a bath towel, and place it at a temperature between 70 and 75 degrees. In 3 or 4 hours the dough should have risen to the 7-cup mark and will be light and springy when touched.
  9. Deflate the dough by loosening it from the edges of the bowl with a rubber spatula or the cupped fingers of one hand, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. With the lightly floured palms of the hands, pat and push the dough out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches. Fold into thirds as though folding a buisness letter- the bottom third of the rectangle up onto the middle third, and then the top third of the rectangle down onto the middle third. Return the dough to the bowl; cover again with plastic and the insulating blanket.
  10. Let the dough rise a second time (about 1 1/2 hours), to double the original volume (the 4 cup mark).
    (*)To put the process on hold, or slow it down, set the dough in a colder place or in the refrigerator overnight to rise the second time to the 4 cup mark.
  11. Loosen the dough from the edges of the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured plate. Cover airtight and refrigerate for 20 minutes, which will make the next step with the dough easier.
    (*)To put the process on hold, after the second rise to the 4 cup mark and the dough is on the plate, it may be frozen for up to a week.
  12. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured rolling surface. With the lightly floured palms push and pat the dough out into a rectangle about 15 inches tall by 8 inches wide.
  13. The dough is now folded into thirds, just as before. Fold the bottom (unbuttered) third up over the middle third, and the top (buttered) third down over the bottom third. This is called Turn Number 1. There will be a total of 4 Turns.
  14. For Turn Number 2, lightly flour the top of the dough and the rolling surface, turn the dough so the edge of the top flap is to the right as though it were a book going to be opened. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 15 inches tall by 6 inches wide. Roll rapidly starting about an inch from the near end and going to within an inch of the far end.
  15. Fold the dough again bringing the bottom third up over the middle and the top third down over the middle.
  16. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a plastic bag and freeze it for 15 minutes then put it in the refrigerator. The dough must now rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours to deactivate the gluten so that the two final turns can be made without difficulty.
  17. After the dough has rested for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator, unwrap it, sprinkle lightly with flour, and deflate it by tapping lightly several times with the rolling pin. Cover it and let it rest for 8 to 10 minutes, again to relax the gluten.
  18. Being certain that the top and bottom of the dough are always lightly floured, start rolling the dough into a rectangle 15 by 6 inches. Fold the rectangle bottom and top onto the middle third.
  19. Rotate the dough so the opening is to the right, and again roll into the 15 by 6 rectangle and fold the bottom and top onto the middle third to complete Turn Number 4.
  20. Cut the dough in half to form the two packages.
    Wrap each package, place them in freezer bags and freeze each for 15 minutes again, and then refrigerate them for at least 2 hours before forming the dough in to cinnamon rolls. Or leave the dough overnight in the refrigerator.


It seems to me that first, the dough rises more quickly than the times specified above, and second, it seems to stop at about the 7 cup mark and not rise higher. I have found myself not watching too closely on the second rise, and it gets way above the 4 cup mark without any resulting problem. I also let the temperature rise above the 75 degree mark; I rise my dough on the clothes dryer, and to get the temperature up, I run the dryer for 15 minutes, then open the door to let any warm air come out into the laundry alcove. Overall, I think my rise times are about half of the stated expected times.

A Cinnamon Roll Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Stir the ingredients together in a bowl.

To make the cinnamon rolls, the ingredients are:

  • 1 packet dough
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup filling


The directions will have the cinnamon roll dough rolled into a 12 inch cylinder, and then cut into 2 inch sections. Each of the sections is stood on end in the cooking pan. There are many alternative ways to cook the rolls. They can be cooked in a muffin pan like morning buns. They can be cooked in a round cake pan, and they can be cooked in a rectangular pan.

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To make 12 cinnamon rolls, use both packets of dough and after finishing with one packet, immediately process the second packet. The two groups of rolls will be able to be cooked together after their final rise.

In the above photo, and the photo at the bottom of this article, you can see the results of using various pans for cooking the rolls. In this photo, there are regular size rolls, mini-rolls, and a muffin pan roll. In the photo at the bottom of the article, you can see a 6 inch cake pan result.

Alternative Cooking Pans

Muffin Pan: each section of the cylinder goes into a separate space in the pan.


Cake Pan: for 6 rolls, a 6 inch cake pan is the correct size. Use an 8 inch pan for 12 rolls.


Rectangular pan: for 12 rolls, a 6 1/2 x 9 inch pan is good. It is difficult to get a rectangular pan half that size for 6 rolls, and I would suggest the small cake pan.

Directions

  1. Spray a 6 muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Unwrap a packet of chilled dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Deflate it by gently tapping it several times with the rolling pin. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
  3. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 12 inches wide by 10 inches high.
  4. Spread melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle filling over the melted butter.
  5. Roll the rectangle of dough up so that a 12 inch long cylinder results. Seal the edge of the cylinder so that it doesn’t unwind.
  6. Cut the cylinder into 2 inch sections.
  7. Place all 6 sections in the pan of choice with space around each section
  8. Let the dough have a final rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in which it should double in size. It will not be its final size as the heat in the oven will cause the rolls to expand even more.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  10. Brush the tops of the rolls with more melted butter, and sprinkle more filling mixture on the tops.
  11. Cook the buns for about 20 – 25 minutes. A toothpick stuck into the side of the roll just above the pan edgexcshould come out clean, and should feel the dough crusting as it enters the roll. The rolls should be brown.
  12. Dump the rolls out of the pan on a cooling rack.


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I always roll my dough out to larger than the 12 x 10 rectangle so that after rolling the dough into a cylinder, I can cut the end pieces off down to the desired 12 inches and discard them giving me nicer rolls from the end of the cylinder.

While most recipes for rolled dough say to pinch the dough together to seal the roll, I have found that doesn’t work well when the dough is covered with butter and sugar. I have found that using wet fingers to wipe the cylinder at the point the final edge of the rectangle will meet it makes a good seal.

I was also able to make what I called mini-cinnamon rolls, to as Jill suggested, tea rolls. I did this by first rolling the dough out to be a rectangle of 18 inches by 10 inches, and then cutting the resulting 18 inch cylinder into 1 1/2 inch sections instead of the 2 inch sections. Because the dough is now thinner, the 12 resulting sections fit into the same pan size as 6 normal sections.

I found that cooking in a muffin pan needs about 5 minutes less time than when the rolls are crowded together in a cake or rectangular pan. More heat gets to the roll in the muffin pan since each cup of the pan is exposed to heat on all sides. If it is desired to slow the cooking down, I placed the muffin pan inside a 7 x 11 pan so that there was less direct heat on the bottoms of the cups. I did this when I was cooking 6 rolls in a muffin pan and 6 rolls in a cake pan to try to even out the cooking time.

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