No-Knead Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

As a young child, like most young children, my brother and I took afternoon naps. Every afternoon, at 1pm, amid protests, we’d reluctantly snuggle into our beds, convinced we were neither tired nor in need of a nap. My mom would turn on the tv and then the vacuum cleaner. I’d lie there listening as the monotonous hum of the vacuum blended with the theme song of General Hospital. Usually, before either finished I was fast asleep.

Don’t be fooled by the soap opera music. Though I’ve never asked her, I imagine, because I know her and I know what she managed to accomplish, that the show most likely played in the background while she did all of the myriad of things she did.

The song would end, the vacuum would be stowed in it’s home in the hall closet. Then the magic would begin.

The industrious woman that is my mother would pull out her sewing machine and transform discounted fabrics into garments to clothe her family. She’d iron clothes previously fashioned by her hands. She’d create handmade ornaments for our Christmas tree, and crochet afghans to keep us warm.

From her kitchen, on a tight budget she would prepare the food that would nourish us. Shucked corn was cut  from it’s cob, bagged and placed in our freezer. She’d peel and pit and slice peaches and pears then process them in her water canner. The colorful jars, the fruit of her labor, would stand side by side with jars of home-canned tomatoes and green beans, all lined up like little soldiers on our pantry shelves waiting to be called into service. Her hands would peel potatoes, form biscuits, and fry chicken.

But she did more than that. She created things simply to surprise us, because she knew, upon waking from their reluctant naps,  her little ones would be delighted to find a cake covered in pink coconut and shaped like an elephant. And sometimes, we’d wake to homemade cinnamon rolls. I have no idea where she first found the recipe, but it has been a family favorite for half a century. It’s as good today as it was then.

Like the No-Knead bread, the Loafer’s Loaf, this recipe does not require kneading. It is simply mixed in a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, covered and placed in the refrigerator for at least four hours. I’ve left it in the fridge for over a week and the results are just as brilliant. I have, on occasion, baked only half the recipe at a time. I’ve left the sugar out of the dough and used it as a pizza crust. I’ve put the rolls on a sugar, butter, and nut foundation to create pecan sticky rolls. I’ve served them naked, without icing,  or topped with a pastry glaze whose recipe is included here, and even iced them with orange butter cream.

The recipe is quick, easy, and forgiving. Make them according to the recipe here or bring your own imagination and create something completely new. Maybe top with Nutella or chocolate buttercream, or fill with Craisins and include some orange zest in the dough, or maybe find a way to incorporate strawberries or raspberries, or cinnamon apples.

Use your imagination and let me know what you think!

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 packages dry yeast. (1 package is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons.  I used 4 teaspoons total because of my high altitude)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups of unsifted flour
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Combine the butter, sugar, salt and boiling water in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. When the yeast is completely dissolved, add the butter mixture taking care that the butter mixture isn’t still hot. Add the 2 eggs and beat well. Add flour and beat until the mixture is blended. It will remain lumpy looking

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to a week.

Preparing the rolls:

When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball. Remember, you do not knead. Simply form the dough into ball. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 1/4” thick. Spread 1 stick of melted butter across the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with approximately 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, more or less to taste. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and nuts, if desired.

Starting on a long edge, roll the dough jelly roll style. Pinch the edges to seal and place the seam side down. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 1” to 1 1/2” rolls. Lay rolls flat in a greased cake pan leaving approximately 1/2” between the rolls.  Your number of rolls will vary depending on the size of your rectangle and on how thick you cut them. Allow the rolls to raise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 -18 minutes.

There’s a printable recipe here.

Allow to cool and top with the prepared glaze.

Glaze: (Prepare while the baked rolls cool)

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • dash of salt (to cut the sweetness)

Mix the confectioner’s sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Slowly add the milk until a nice, thick glaze is formed. Spread or pour immediately over the cooled cinnamon rolls.

Get the printable version of the recipe here.

Serve with a large glass of cold milk or a steaming cup of coffee and a generous pat of butter. (Ok, butter is optional, but in our family butter is a standard side dish). Oh, and don’t forget the company! These rolls are best enjoyed with a friend or family member and sprinkled generously with good conversation.

 

Loafer’s Loaf – No Knead Bread

The Loafer’s Loaf

It’s a funny thing, this season of my life, where kids are growing and the family structure is changing. It affects everything, from when I go to bed at night, to planning holidays and vacations, to what I cook and how I shop.

When the kids were young I often made homemade bread. Few things are as quintessentially homey as the smell of freshly baked bread. Somewhere along the line, I baked less until eventually the kids came to refer wistfully to the days when mom used to bake bread.

Recently, my daughter, Katie, texted to tell me that she had baked one of my bread recipes! I was proud of her and more than a little bit happy that she was choosing to continue that tradition. I was also challenged to make time to bake.

So I did.  Several times recently I’ve pulled out my big mixing bowl, and one of my enameled cast iron pans and baked this recipe. There are several versions of this no-knead recipe on the internet. But in case you’ve missed it, or forgotten how simple and delicious it is, here it is again.

I call it the Loafer’s Loaf. It’s for those of us who are just a little bit lazy, or maybe we just have too much on our plates. It can quite literally be mixed in less than 10 minutes. It requires another 5-10 minutes of effort after the initial rising period. And that’s it. Really! That’s all it takes to have delicious homemade, fragrant bread.

This artisan loaf is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside and the perfect accompaniment to anything, but I especially like it with soups. Katie also reports that it makes a phenomenal pizza crust!

Serves 8  (I doubled the recipe for my large loaf)

INGREDIENTS

•3 cups all-purpose flour

•1½ teaspoons salt

•½ teaspoon instant yeast

•1½ cups room temperature water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together until mixed. Stir in the water until a chunky, thick dough forms. If it needs a little more water you can add a little more, but just enough to get it barely wet throughout. If it looks like a sticky, pasty mess, you’ve done it just right! Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 12 hours. I typically mix it up in the evening and cook it for dinner the next day.

  • When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 450. Place an enamel coated cast iron pan in the oven for about 30 minutes to heat. (I have also used non-enameled cast iron with great success.) The dough should have risen in size, be fairly wet and sticky and have little bubbles across the surface. Gently scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface. (Don’t forget … NO KNEAD.) Gently shape it into a ball with flour on the outside. (I usually use my pastry knife to turn in through the flour a couple of times.) Set the dough on a piece of parchment, and cover with plastic while your pan heats up.

  • Remove the pre-heated pan from the oven then remove the plastic from the dough. Lift the dough and parchment together into the pan so the parchment lines the bottom of the hot pan. This pan is HOT, so be careful not to touch it’s sides. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake another 10-15 minutes. This will form the golden, crusty, beautiful exterior of the loaf. And THAT’S IT! You’re done! All you have to do now if gather together friends and family and enjoy!

Next week I’ll share my mom’s No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe. Like the Loafer’s Loaf, there’s No-kneading needed and it is the best recipe for cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had!

Click here for the printable recipe.