Rory readily admits that this recipe is actually adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s blog, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t constantly get requests for “his” cinnamon rolls!
1 quart whole milk
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast, 0.25 oz packets
8 Cups (Plus 1 Cup extra, reserved) all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda
1 heaping Tbsp Salt
Plenty of melted butter
2 Cups brown sugar
Generous sprinkling of Cinnamon – Saigon Cinnamon is Rory’s favorite
1 bag powdered sugar
2 tsp maple flavoring (or, in a pinch, a splash of maple syrup)
1/2 Cup milk
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1/4 Cup brewed coffee
1/8 tsp Salt
Make the dough: Heat the whole milk, vegetable oil, and sugar together in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, to just below a boil. Stir continually to dissolve the sugar. Set mixture aside and allow to cool down until it is just warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warmed milk and let it stand for several minutes to begin to “proof” (bubble and puff up).
Transfer the milk-yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl, scraping any remnants from the saucepan with a spatula. Add 8 Cups of the flour to the milk-yeast mixture, one cup at a time. (Add the flour slowly and beat carefully so as not to cause a big explosion of flour all over the kitchen — and you). Stir each addition of flour until it is just incorporated before adding the next cupful. Dough is going to be pretty loose and sticky at this point.
When all 8 cups of flour are incorporated into the dough, cover the mixing bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour to allow the dough to rise. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Use the dough right away, or place in an oiled mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Punch down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: this dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Assemble the rolls: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured cooking surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 30″ x 10″ inches. At these dimensions, the dough will be rolled very thin.
Make the cinnamon filling: Pour 3/4 Cup – 1 Cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your (clean, dry) fingers to spread the butter evenly. Sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon (a Tablespoon or two) and 1 Cup of the sugar over the butter. Be bold about drizzling on more melted butter or sprinkling on more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
Once the rolled dough is coated in delicious filling, it’s time to make the dough into rolls. Beginning at the end of the dough that is farthest from you, roll the rectangle towards you, keeping the rolled “log” tight and using both your hands. The filling may ooze out the sides of the rolled log as you work, and that’s all right. When the coated dough is completely rolled into a long log, pinch the seam together. Flip the roll so that the pinched seam is facing down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with “one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.”
Deftly slip the roll onto a cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1/2-inch-thick slices. One “log” will yield 20 – 25 rolls. Do you still have some melted butter left? Spoon a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into three(ish) disposable foil cake pans, and swirl butter to coat the pans. Arrange the sliced rolls in the pans, 7 – 9 rolls per pan, being careful not to overcrowd.
Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and another three(ish) disposable foil pans. When you have finished rolling, slicing, and arranging the cinnamon rolls in foil pans, cover the pans with clean kitchen towels, and set them in a warm, draft-free spot, allowing them to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel from each pan before transferring to the oven, baking rolls for 15 to 18 minutes, until tops of rolls have just turned golden brown. (Take care not to over-brown the rolls).
Make the maple icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add a bit of maple flavoring. Continue to whisk until the icing is very smooth. Add more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients to taste, as needed, until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be a little bit thick, but still pourable.
Frost the cinnamon rolls: Remove pans from the oven. Drizzle icing over the top, while the rolls are still warm. Be sure to spread frosting all around the edges and over the top of the rolls. As the cinnamon rolls cool, they will soak up some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.
You’ll want to eat them ALL right away, but they actually taste better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds.
Adapted from our favorite, Rae Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman”