real life test kitchen: cinnamon rolls


Keep your candy canes and fruitcake. For me, cinnamon rolls are the official food of the holidays. Every year, as Christmas approached, I would head out to the grocery store with my mom to procure the obscene amount of ingredients she needed to make her annual holiday gift of cinnamon rolls. I watched as she pulled the tattered recipe from her file, year after year, the same one — a sour cream coffee cake recipe, actually. I remember her mixing the enormous batches in a rubber tub on the kitchen floor, and how my dad eventually bought her a big sheet of plexiglass so that she could roll out her dough down there too. But what has stayed with me the most all these years, is the scent — a perfect commingling of yeast, butter, cinnamon and caramelizing sugar that makes my mouth water and my heart warm just thinking about it.

Sadly, my mom has stopped making these dare I say famous trays of delight, and I finally had to take matters into my own hands this year. I transcribed her recipe over the phone and realized that my newly diagnosed egg allergy wouldn’t jive with her version. So, thankfully, there’s this thing called the internet, and I was able to find a fantastic egg free cinnamon roll recipe courtesy of the Pioneer Woman that was pretty similar to my mom’s. And this leads to the beautiful, delicate, cinnamon-y goodness you see here: a hybrid of the two recipes, something I’ll be making (and giving away) every holiday henceforth! –Megan B.

cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing
adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls
makes approx. 3 dozen rolls

2 cups sour cream
2 cups milk
1 stick (1/2 c) butter, softened
1/4 c vegetable oil (like grapeseed or macadamia nut)
1/2 c sugar
2 packages rapid rise yeast
8 c all purpose flour + 1 c separated (9 cups total)
1 tsp (heaping) baking powder
1 tsp (scant) baking soda
1 tbs (heaping) salt (it seems like a lot, but trust me, it’s right)
melted butter (around 2 sticks)
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup brown sugar
shaker of cinnamon

for the icing:
1 1lb bag of powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c milk (plus more, if needed to reach proper consistency)
pinch of salt

Heat up milk and sour cream in a saucepan, stirring to incorporate, until it reaches approx. 110F (warm but not hot) and keep on the lowest setting. Cut the butter into pats and add to milk/sour cream mixture. Once it has melted, add the yeast, oil, and sugar, stir to dissolve, and set aside. Get a LARGE bowl and add your 8 cups of flour, add the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly with your hands, kneading quickly until the dough is well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and a wet towel and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1 cup of flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Prepare your baking dishes (the thin foil ones work best, I swear) by pouring/brushing a thin layer of melted butter on the bottom and set aside. Knead into the dough after it has doubled, and cut into 1/4’s. Form one of the dough pieces into a rectangle, and roll thin (about 1/8”) on a well floured surface. Brush the dough liberally with melted butter, sprinkle with 1/2 c of the sugar mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon. Roll up the dough into a tight tube and pinch the edges to seal. Slice into 1 inch rolls, lay in pans and repeat until all the dough is used. Brush the rolls with more melted butter and let rise for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375F and bake rolls once proofed for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. While rolls are cooling, mix glaze by sifting powdered sugar into a bowl, and whisking in milk until smooth. Add vanilla, salt, melted butter, and more milk if needed to reach the right consistency. Pour over rolls after they have cooled 10 minutes or so. These are best if consumed as soon as possible, but freeze wonderfully if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap & foil.

From our partners

oohhh, i can’t wait to try these! baking with yeast is one of my 2011 goals!

Sarah L.

cinnamon rolls are my all time favorite! i’m going to have to try these.