Dude 3 has always loved baking.
Cookies, cupcakes, pies, it has been a thing that he has enjoyed since he was old enough to stand in a chair it my kitchen counter and lick the spoon.
As he got older, he would spend the holidays at my parents’ house helping Mimi in the kitchen—they’d bake monkey bread for dinner, pies for dessert, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. They’d always make homemade gingerbread houses during Christmas, and decorate birthday cakes for everyone’s birthdays. In fact, she taught him everything he knows about fondant which is a whole lot more than I know about fondant.
Baking is his way of honoring her, of feeling close to her, and of doing something to take his mind off of the pain of losing her. He’s even sucked me into joining him in the kitchen most nights and I love standing side by side in there—him baking while I’m preparing dinner in the evenings.
Mimi made the very best cinnamon rolls of all time. They are my dad’s favorite dessert and she always made them for him during the holidays. We could count on cinnamon rolls alongside her apple pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and she always brought her cinnamon rolls to our house on Christmas Day-mostly because she knew that I’ve never been able to get my cinnamon rolls anywhere near to the light, moist, sweet goodness she created.
Thank goodness Dude 3 is better in the kitchen than I am. His cinnamon rolls got close to being as pleasing as hers with the batch he made recently.
He does all of the hard work himself.
And all I have to do is decipher a few recipe terms and keep him company while he’s at it.
And I’m always happy to be his taste tester.
Check out the recipe he used for these homemade cinnamon rolls, it does NOT come with the adorable baker-that part is on you!
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup butter or margarine (1/2 stick), room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 3½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 packages regular or fast-acting dry yeast (4½ teaspoons)
- Cooking spray to grease bowl and pan
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 or 3 tablespoons milk
- First, make the dough. If you're using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons in the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
- Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, till it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
- While the dough is rising, lightly grease two 9" round cake pans.
- Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16"x12" rectangle. It's a nice, soft dough, and pats out easily.
- To make the filling, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
- Brush the dough lightly with milk.
- Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, covering the entire surface.
- Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 16 slices. In order to cut down on drag, it helps to rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices.
- Space eight rolls in each of the prepared pans. Flatten them gently.
- Cover the pans, and let the rolls rise till they're noticeably puffy, about 1½ to 2 hours; they should spread out and start to crowd one another.
- While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 minutes.
- If you're going to serve the rolls immediately, make the icing while the rolls are baking. Combine the sugar, vanilla, and enough cream or milk to make a spreadable icing. If you're not serving the rolls immediately, don't make the icing yet.
- Heat milk in saucepan.
- Add butter and stir until it starts to melt a bit.
- Remove from heat and let sit while you prepare the dry ingredients.
- Add 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast to a large bowl (or your stand mixer if you have one)
- Pour warm milk/butter concoction over flour and add eggs
- Beat with electric mixer, scraping bowl as you go
- Add in as much of remaining flour as possible until dough is easy to handle
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until dough is springy
- Make into a ball and place in lightly oiled bowl
- Cover at let rise until dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour or so)
- Combine sugar and cinnamon for filling in a small bowl and set aside
- When dough is doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface
- Divide in half
- Roll each ball of dough out into a large rectangle
- Brush melted butter on top of each rectangle
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture
- Roll dough of each rectangle tightly and use fingers to pinch seam closed
- Cut each roll into 1-inch slices with a sharp knife
- Grease bottom and sides of a 13x9 inch pan
- Add the cut rolls, so they're not touching, to the pan
- Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes (you can also leave in fridge overnight)
- Bake 30 minutes, until golden brown, in a 350 degree oven
- Remove from oven and let cool
- Mix together glaze ingredients
- Once cool, cover rolls with glaze
- Remove the rolls from the oven, and loosen their edges with a knife. Turn them out of the pan onto a rack. To enjoy right away, spread with the icing and serve.
- To serve the rolls later, allow them to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Fifteen minutes before you're ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350°F. Unwrap the rolls, place them on an ungreased baking sheet, and tent lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they're nicely warmed.
- While the rolls are reheating, make the icing.
- Remove the rolls from the oven, and spread with the icing. Serve immediately.