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Friday, January 24, 2014

Huge Cinnamon Rolls: the story of how I ended up with 3 feet of dough

I am not a chef. I do not own a bakery. I am a college student with a love for learning to cook and bake. This blog is where I share this learning process. The ups and the downs, the successes and the not-so successful attempts at making something delicious. Sometimes it tastes like bliss and looks like sh*t. All that matters is that I learned something from each experience, right?

I started yesterday with a craving for cinnamon rolls. I ended the night with a 3 foot long pile of dough.

I got this recipe book for Christmas. If you watched my first vlog yesterday, you would know that I have quite the collection of recipe books.  My Paula Deen recipe book didn't have cinnamon rolls, my Giada recipe book definitely did not have cinnamon rolls...so I cracked open my "Guilty Pleasures" cook book and found one that sounded so good my mouth was watering. The recipe was called "Val's Famous Firehouse Cinnamon/Orange Rolls," and apparently was submitted by "The National Firefighters Recipe Book (Arizona)." I didn't read through the whole recipe (first mistake), skimmed to the baking time, didn't really find a serving size (second mistake) and just started with the first step. I really wanted cinnamon rolls, guys. I am trying to use the internet less and use my ever growing pile of recipe books more. So, I stuck with the recipe I found and got started.  
The recipe I am including is my version of the original recipe. I ended up changing the recipe a great deal.

4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening (I cringed while adding this)
4 cups 9 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 Tbsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
4 eggs

Cinnamon filling:
1 stick butter
brown sugar

powdered sugar
1 Tbsp butter
splash of vanilla extract
almond milk

First, you "scald" the milk by heating it up slowly in a sauce pan on medium-low heat until bubbles form around the edges and it starts to steam a little. Then, add your sugar and shortening. Stir until shortening melts, remove from heat and set aside.
Mix your 4 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Add the warm milk mixture to your bowl. You now have soup. At this point I was like..."what in the world was this person thinking?"  Then, I read on... add 4 eggs, mixing after each egg*. Follow the * to the next page:
"If needed, add additional flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is "sticky"--NOT dry or stiff (4-6 cups will be sufficient). Be careful not to add too much flour ( 10 cups is too much)." 
Alrighty then... I am thinking to myself.."I can do this. I know what sticky dough is and I won't add too much." So, I slowly add 1 cup of flour at a time, hoping the dough will start to at least stick to itself or the spatula. Five more cups of flour later...I finally cut myself off and refused to put the 10th cup in, because "10 cups is too much." I humor this recipe writer and turn off my stand mixer. I spray the biggest bowl I have with tons of cooking spray knowing the consistency of the dough I was about to put in it, plopped the dough in and waited.

I took photos of the bowl next to my hand and a dish towel so you could really understand how much dough I made here. My stand mixer was almost over flowing. 
My apartment is not very warm and after 30 minutes the dough hasn't risen much, so I get creative. I heated up two of my homemade rice bags that I usually use as heating pads on my back and place them on the outside of my bowl. 
I have to be the only 20 year old cook in the world who uses rice sacks to help dough rise.

After it "doubled in size"... I only waited about an hour, I punched it down, turned it over and let it rise again (reheating the rice sacks, of course). After another hour, here is what I had!

Alec photographed me with my giant dough because I felt like one of those farmers who grew the biggest radish and wanted to be in the town paper. I made a huge dough ball and it was mine and I felt very special...in a "what the heck am I going to do with this" kind of way.

I plopped it down, rolled it out and giggled the whole time.

Then, Alec melted a stick of butter for me, I literally just poured it onto the center of my dough, brushing it on to even it out. After the butter was down I  sprinkled it with so much cinnamon and brown sugar that I told Alec not to come in the kitchen so he wouldn't have to see how unhealthy this thing was.

Next, I rolled it all up into one huge roll. I highly suggest cutting it in half before you even roll it out or before rolling it up. I don't care when you cut it in half, just don't try to battle this whole roll of dough at once. I went forward and did all the messy learning for the rest of us, learn from my experience!

Then, I sliced them up and tried to help them keep their shape the best I could. I frantically texted my friend Megan for help with how to freeze this beast. She soothed me with her baking knowledge and before I knew it I had the second half cut up and in the freezer.

To freeze: 
Cut into slices and place on baking tray in freezer. When frozen solid, place in ziplock bag.
To thaw: 
Place in refrigerator over night covered in saran. When thawed, place on counter to rise at room temperature.

The recipe says to let it rise a third time until the rolls doubled in size. This thought scared me. I had these huge wheels of dough, it was 9pm at night and I was not waiting around for them to get any bigger. So, I popped them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes.

They looked a little brown to me, but I knew how much cinnamon and sugar was on the inside, so I wasn't about to turn my back on these. I worked all day for them. I was going to eat one.

I mixed together a glaze and piped it onto the top while the rolls were warm. The glaze melted in every crack and all was good in the world.

They tasted pretty damn good, too. They were kind of crispy from just coming out of the oven, but I had one this morning that I microwaved for 30 seconds...and I'll tell you, that tasted like Heaven. I also used 1/2 whole wheat flour for these, which I thought was a bad idea when I ate them last night. But, like I said, they tasted pretty great this morning. 
The wheat flour makes it healthy, right?

This recipe made about 27 huge rolls. Now I have to figure out what to do with all of them..any ideas?


  1. Holy cow! Well, I guess if you made this batch in a firehouse full of big hungry guys, it would disappear in a hurry. But that's a lot of cinnamon rolls for a domestic household, even by my sugar-loving standards!! They look delicious though! Just think, now you will have some ready in the freezer next time you want cinnamon rolls, and you won't have to make them from scratch. :)

    1. I'll have enough for the next 4 times I want cinnamon rolls! I think firehouse must have been the serving size!


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