Let’s face it—we all indulge in the occasional Cinnabon at the mall or airport. We forget about how sticky our fingers will soon become because the smell is just too tempting, and as soon as we’re in what seems like a mile radius of the store, our mouths are already watering. We inhale the cinnamon roll, and walk away, guilty, making excuses, with pieces of napkins stuck to our fingers.
But have you ever woken up to the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls in your own home, or in my case, in your grandma’s home? That is a true treat. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty while eating a delicious homemade roll, and because of that, you’re able to enjoy it in more than 2 bites. And go ahead, lick your fingers; you know you want to! You’re in your own home, so why not? You’ll feel even less guilty when you make the rolls yourself, for the first time. Baking with yeast can often sound like a daunting task, and if you’re nervous about it, as I was, making these cinnamon rolls is a perfect place to start. When I discovered that I would have to face my fear of yeast in order to make these rolls, I was concerned. But when the baking actually began, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I really had nothing to be nervous about.
My grandma—“Mimi,” as she is referred to by her grandkids—taught me how to make these cinnamon rolls during one of my trips to visit her in Tennessee, just as her own grandmother did when she visited her in North Dakota many years before. Since Mimi’s grandmother lived so far away, she only got to visit her a few times. But fortunately, she was able to spend some quality time with her while learning how to make this cinnamon rolls. For her, they’re much more than a breakfast sweets; they’re “small ways to preserve the past.” I’m thankful that although Mimi and I also live very far apart, we do get to see each other often. And I can’t wait to someday teach my own grandkids how to make these cinnamon rolls using my great-great-grandmother’s recipe to continue preserving the past.
Sweet Yeast Dough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
½ cup milk
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 ½ tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups sifted flour
½ cup warm potato water
2 packages dry yeast
2 tbsp cinnamon
Scald ½ cup milk. Stir in ½ cup sugar, ½ cup shortening, and 1 ½ tsp salt. Add 2 eggs—beaten, 3 cups sifted flour; beat until smooth. Add 2 cups sifted flour and cool to lukewarm.
Measure into a small glass bowl:
½ cup warm potato water and add 2 packages of dry yeast. Stir until dissolved. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes to make sure the yeast is working or bubbling up. Stir into lukewarm milk mixture. Dough may be slightly sticky.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, brush the top with soft shortening. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk—about 1 hour. Punch down and turn out on lightly floured board. Roll half of the dough into rectangle about 9×14”. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture (2 tbsp cinnamon, 1 cup sugar). Roll as for a jelly roll and slice in 1” pieces. Place in a greased baking pan and let rise until double in bulk and bake at 350° oven for 35 minutes. (Pan may also be prepared by placing melted butter and dusting lightly with brow sugar before putting the cut cinnamon rolls in).
Photo by Eric Petruno [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons