Really Delicious Cinnamon Rolls

Winter is for cinnamon rolls, I’m just sure of it.

Cinnamon rolls are one of those foods that have been so re-created by the food industry so as to bear but a shadowy resemblance to the real thing. These rolls are treats, to be sure, but they are real food. I love them muchly. I think I shall be making them today.

And here is how you can make some, too:

Dissolve a heaping tablespoon of dry yeast in ¼ cup of warm (not hot) water. Set aside.

Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, and stir in 1/3 cup sugar (I like to use organic fair-trade evaporated cane juice). Stir in 1 cup of whole milk that’s been warmed up slightly, 1 beaten egg, 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract and 1 and ½ tsp. salt. To this add the yeast-water mixture. Gradually stir in 4 to 5 cups bread flour (up to half whole-wheat), changing the stirring to kneading once necessary. Knead 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic, wipe dough all over with butter, cover, and set aside for one hour.

Meanwhile, mix together 1/2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar and 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon. Set aside. Soften another stick (1/2 cup) butter and set aside.

When the dough has risen, gently push it down, and begin to stretch and pull it to fit an 11″ × 15″ baking sheet. Take your time and push it down evenly. Using a pastry brush (or your clean fingers), spread softened butter all over the dough, except for the long side that is farthest from you, leaving a 1″×15″ strip CLEAN.

Then carefully spread the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Roll up from bottom edge loosely — not firmly — and use the “clean” edge to seal up the roll. Saw the log very gently with a serrated knife into 1.5 inch pieces; it helps to score the log lightly before you cut. Lay the slices almost touching in a buttered 9″ × 13″ pan.

Cover and allow the rolls to rise for an hour.

While you wait, make the frosting by creaming together 2 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup of butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract.

When the rolls have risen again, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Tip onto a large plate immediately, and when slightly cooled, spread with frosting. Yum.

Eat them with friends! And coffee! And JOY!