Cinnamon rolls hold a special place in my life. While it has never been my favorite sweet thing, my memories of this delicious treat go back all the way to when my parents were still together. Every Saturday morning, my dad would take my brother to the cinnamon roll store to get four big, sugary rolls the size of my head (not too hard-I was 3, so my head wasn’t THAT big yet), and bring them back to my mom and I at home. I can remember sitting on the back porch as a family, swinging my little legs as I peeled layer by layer off my giant satisfying breakfast.
Years later, cinnamon rolls meant a visit to Grandma’s house on Oahu. Grandma’s house meant a big family Christmas, and Christmas meant Christmas shopping. Growing up on the more rural islands of the Big Island and Maui, we didn’t have all the comforts of big city living like the Cinnabon at the mall. After each shopping trip, we treated ourselves with a hot sticky cinnamon roll from Cinnabon to share between three of us. I loved watching them roll the cinnamony dough into a spiral, my nose pressed tight against the glass. When we got our very own bun and opened the flimsy cardboard top, the smell of utter deliciousness overtook our senses. We took turns cutting into the hot sticky treat, unrolling the layers one by one.
The center of the cinnamon roll is perfectly undercooked, deliciously doughy and the best part of the whole thing. It was the treasure, and we always fought over it. We took turns scraping the last of the sweet icing from the container and only stopped short of licking the box because it just wasn’t dignified to do in public.
I don’t know whether it is because Saturday morning cinnamon rolls are one of my last memories of my family all together, or if later getting them as a once a year treat signified the start of our Christmas celebration, or whether it is just because the buns are so perfectly delectable, but Cinnamon Rolls will always bring back memories of family, happiness, and always can put a smile on my face.
I had about 98 pounds (actually, more like 2) of dough leftover from my failed Rosemary Rolls, so the hardest part of making these mini rolls was over and done with. Now came the fun part, putting them all together! Thanks to my great photographer Andrew, I could focus on all the fun bits- rolling out the dough, spreading melted butter all over- hey, no one said this was health, and covering it all in sugar and cinnamon. I rolled the dough into a spiral length-wise and cut it into 2-inch pieces- I liked the idea of little mini rolls, especially after the burned rosemary roll fiasco.
15 minutes after they went into the oven, out came mini golden cinnamon rolls with crusty sugary tops. After a drizzle of icing over the pan of rolls, we served them up and ate them hot. I only took 2 little mini rolls, ok, 3. We had gone on a 3-hour, mostly uphill hike earlier, so we deserved it!! These were amazing. Each bite was filled with cinnamony, sugary, doughy goodness. Now I have a new cinnamon roll memory to add to my collection- a happy Sunday night with my man, cozy in our makeshift home after a long day of exploring. And they definitely put a smile on my face.
Mini Cinnamon Rolls
Dough Courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, the rest courtesy of my memories
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).
Turning Dough into Rolls
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup melted butter
cinnamon for sprinkling
4 cups of powdered sugar
3 Tbsp Milk
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
-Preheat the oven to 375º
-Sprinkle surface with flour.
-Roll out the dough into a thin, long rectangular shape.
-Spread 3/4 cups butter evenly over dough surface.
-Mix the granulated sugar and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the buttery dough.
-Cover surface with a generous layer of cinnamon.
-Roll the dough length-wise, keeping it relatively tight. Pinch the ends of the roll tight.
-Cover the bottom of a round pan with 2 tablespoons of butter.
-Cut the roll into 2-inch sections and place in the pan. Space the rolls to leave a little room for rising.
-Let the rolls rise 20-30 minutes.
-Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
-While they are baking, mix together the icing ingredients. Add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve a thick but pourable liquid.
- Remove rolls from oven and drizzle with icing while they are still warm.-EAT!!