Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Caramel Maple Cinnamon Rolls

I arose before dawn this morning and, after exercising for 2 hours, vacuuming the entire house, and reading 10 chapters of Ana Karenina, I began baking - with love - a warm, filling breakfast for my family.
Actually, I "awoke" at 6, got out of bed at 6:20, stumbled to the shower, and eventually started these cinnamon rolls around 7.

It's 9:46 right now.
And they just came out of the oven.

So yeah, these puppies are the definition of time-consuming. But are they ever worth it.

For starters, you combine 2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of oil, and 1 cup of sugar.

Scald the mixture. Which just means get it really hot, but not quite boiling.

And then the directions say to let it sit for 30-40 minutes for it to cool. And since I'm impatient, and didn't have all morning, I did this.

Just plopped 'em all in a panful of ice water.
Worked just fine. I sat down to read a chapter of my book, and maybe 5 minutes later, the milk mixture was actually cool. And since the directions said it should be warm or lukewarm, I heated it up in the microwave a little.

Sprinkle 1 package of active dry yeast over the scalded milk mixture and let it sit for a minute or two.

Then add 4 cups of flour, stir it up, cover the bowl, and let it sit for 1 hour, while you take your dog out for an early-morning stroll in the rain.

Sometime during that hour, you can go ahead and mix up the frosting.
You take about 3 or 4 cups of powdered sugar (I had to add more towards the end because it was too thin)

Maple flavoring, and some caramel flavoring...

Some melted butter...

Coffee, and milk.

Mix it all together. I used a wooden spoon at first, just to be rustic, but it was lumpy, so I used the mixer.

Now, do not - I repeat - DO NOT taste this stuff.
It's dangerous.
Ridiculously yummy, especially after you've been up for an hour or so with only a few puny mandarin orange pieces to tide you over.

But wait, you have to taste it, to make sure it's ok. Make adjustments as needed, and then put it somewhere out of sight.

Now, after your dough's been sitting for an hour, go add 1 more cup of flour, some baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir it all up as best you can.

And then take half of it and lay it out on a floured surface. Knead it only once or twice - just enough so it's not too sticky. Now try for the general shape of a rectangle.

Now roll it out pretty flat. Not too flat...just...pretty flat. You just gotta eyeball it.

Drizzle on some melted butter. You might as well make a huge mess.

Dump 1/4 cup of sugar over it, and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. I wasn't quite generous enough, as it turned out, so really give it a good shakin'.

I apologize if looking at the previous 2 pictures makes your eyes water and your head swim. I couldn't convince my hand to stop shaking after I'd finished with the cinnamon :)

Now, take one end and very carefully, very sloppily, roll it up. Butter and cinnamon will ooze everywhere, so make a mental note not to put quite so much butter on the next roll.

I'm sorry. I know that looks unspeakably disgusting. But for the record, this was my practice roll. The second looked a lot better. Really. I was just so caught up in the moment that I didn't take pictures of it :)

Now, take a real sharp knife and cut approximately 1-inch slices out of the roll. Turn the roll a half-turn after every cut to keep it semi-sorta-round.

Place them in 2 PAM-sprayed pans. (You'll need 2 more for the other half of the dough.)

And repeat until you have four pans full of your culinary magnum opus.

Now, preheat your oven, because the rolls have to rise for 20 minutes or so. I started a timer after I finished the first two pans, and by the time I was through with the third and fourth, the first two were ready to bake.

Pop 'em in the oven, preferably on convection 375 - (if you don't have that option, then 400) for 15 minutes. Mine didn't need to go a minute more. They were perfect and golden and exquisite.

Now take that frosting and drown them puppies! Really lay it on thick. You won't be sorry.

But unless you plan to eat 4 entire pans in one sitting, save the rest of the frosting for right before you serve them.

Oy. And clean up after yourself, already!

Here's the full, copy-paste-and-print-if-you-wish recipe:

Caramel Maple Cinnamon Rolls
2 C. milk
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. sugar
1 pkg. Active dry yeast
4 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 C. melted butter
1/2 C. sugar

3 3/4 C. Confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1 tsp. caramel flavoring
1/2 C. milk
4 TBS. melted butter
4 TBS. brewed coffee
1/8 tsp. salt

1. Mix milk, vegetable oil and sugar. 'Scald' mixture (heat until just before boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool for 45 minutes to an hour. OR, pour into 4 or 5 bowls and place in a pan of cool water to speed up the process.
2. When mixture is lukewarm - NOT hot - sprinkle in the yeast. Let it sit for a minute, then add 4 cups flour. Stir mixture together. Cover, and let sit for at least an hour.
3. After an hour, add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cover and refrigerate if desired, or just make the rolls:
4. Sprinkle surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle, then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangle shape. (Rectangle should increase in both length and width as you roll).
5. Drizzle melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the melted butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon.
6. Starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Some of the butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture may ooze our toward the end, but that's no big deal. Pinch the seam to the roll to seal it.
7. Spread a little melted butter (or PAM spray) in 3 or 4 round cake or pie pans, and begin cutting rolls approx. 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Place them in pans.
8. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
9. Let the rolls sit for 20 to 30 minutes to rise, then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
10. Frosting: Mix together frosting ingredients and stir well. Mixture should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

~Happy Cooking!~

P.S. If you'd like to see it done right, go watch the professional: Pioneer Woman.

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