Last week Dale told me he’d had much success on his cooking day. He’d created three different recipes that turned out well. I decided that the one I’d like to use for our January blog was the one for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve always had a soft spot for them, but hadn’t made them in a long time. Have fun!
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
When RuthAnn and I walked out of the grocery store we were pummeled by a blast of cold arctic air. We hurried to the car and uploaded the treasures we had bought into the trunk. When I got home, I immediately put the teakettle on and let it heat up while I unpacked the groceries. When the kettle whistled I mixed up a large mug of hot chocolate and grabbed a cinnamon roll that I had made earlier. Mmmmm. A cinnamon roll (I’m eating it right now) and hot chocolate is enough to make anyone thankful for winter.
This recipe is made especially moist and chewy by the inclusion of oatmeal. No one will ever guess it, unless you tell them. They will just shout, “You made these yourself? Wow!”
You will need:
For the dough:
1 cup of “old fashioned” rolled oats ¼ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of boiling water 1 pkg. (2 ¼ tsp.) dry yeast
1 ¼ cup of milk 1 tsp. salt
½ cup of vegetable shortening 2 eggs
4 cups of all purpose flour
Grease a 13”x9” baking pan or –
- Line a sheet pan with parchment. I recommend using the sheet pan so that the rolls have room to rise and spread.
- Put the oats in a large mixer bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Stir until the oats are moistened. When the mixture has cooled to warm (stick your finger in it) stir in the yeast
- In a small pan, mix the milk, shortening, brown sugar and salt. Heat the mixture on the range top until warm. Not hot but like you would heat a baby’s bottle. Add the milk mixture to the oat mixture.
- Add the two eggs.
- Mix until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- Add half of the flour (2 cups) and mix thoroughly.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and incorporate with a dough hook or by hand with a spoon.
- Knead the dough for about 7 minutes with the dough hook or by hand.
- Put the dough into a greased bowl and put a greased lid on top. Set the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until doubled in bulk.
- Meanwhile make the filling and frosting.
For the Filling, you will need:
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) of unsalted butter
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of white sugar
3 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients until smooth.
For the Frosting you will need:
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 cups of powdered sugar 2 Tbsp. of Milk
2 Tbsp. of White Karo corn syrup
- Mix all the ingredients together
- Add more milk or powdered sugar until you have a spreadable mixture.
Shape the Dough:
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut the dough in half with a bench knife. Return half of the dough to the bowl.
- Flatten the dough and roll it out to a 10”x14” rectangle. The 14” edge should be horizontal.
- With a pastry brush (or your finger) moisten the top edge so that it will seal better when you roll it up.
- Spread half of the filling over the rectangle but not on the moistened edge.
- Roll up the pastry from the bottom to the top; like a log.
- Pinch the moistened edge to seal the roll.
- Cut the roll into six pieces and place them in two rows of three on/in your prepared pan. If the pieces are taller than they are wide. Flatten them a bit with your hand. If you want smaller rolls cut each log into eight pieces.
- Repeat the above procedure with the second piece of dough.
- Cover the rolls with a damp tea-towel and let them rise in a warm place until almost doubled.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a deep brown.
- When the rolls are cool enough to handle but still warm, lavishly slather the frosting on top.
- The rolls freeze and thaw very well so put some away to go with your hot chocolate on the next “snow day”.
Food for Thought:
There’s nothing better than a soft sweet roll. When I was in college, I loved frequenting a breakfast joint where they served an all-day cinammon roll called the Special. In the middle of the afternoon, a Special with a cup of coffee was a relaxing and delicious break from practicing the piano. (My college piano teacher expected me to practice 5 hours a day.)
The art of making sweet rolls is complex. The dough undergoes several transitions: the kneading, the rising, the shaping, the second rising, then the baking. Each transition moves something that was good into something that’s even better.
Life is filled with transitions. Americans are reeling these days because of our country’s transition from a Democratic President to an eccentric Republican President with his own ideas. What awaits our country as we move into the year? Will things be better or worse? Should we be fearful, hopeful? Emotions run high.
Emotions also run high during a person’s life transitions. They can make our inner man feel chaotic—anxiety, uncertainty, depression, speculating, postulating. The old you’re familiar with is becoming unavailable. And the new is crashing down on you with all its unknowns. Think about what it was like to move from Elementary School to Junior High or how you felt when you realized you only had a few months until retirement.
How do we weather life transitions (defined as change or moving from one condition to another) without falling apart? How do we gracefully say good-bye to the old and prepare expectantly for the new? One thing I’m learning is that it takes courage. Dale, the creator of our sweet roll recipe, and the co-author of our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine came to a point some years ago when he realized he was going to have to give up driving because of his failing eyesight. I asked him the other day what that transition was like.
He said, “At first I was relieved, because I knew it was unsafe for me to drive, but then I became frustrated because I couldn’t continue my life as before. The question always came up: ‘How can I get to where I want to go—the church service, the concert, my job across town?’
He didn’t want to become totally dependent on friends, so he began to study the bus routes, which turned out to be a gargantuan task. He said, “I learned that I would have to give up some of my expectations.” Gradually he worked out compromises like checking movies out at the library and giving up his church activities and concerts at night.
But he still lives a full life working at the church three days a week, working on his piano skills, his painting and cooking at home. He approached his situation in a creative way and so was able to move into a different, but fulfilling life. His courage is commendable.
The transition I’ve facing right now is moving from novel writing to—what? I’m not sure. As I wait on God about the next step in my life, I’m realizing I have to write. The question is, “What shall I write?” It has been two and a half months since I sent my new novel, Catching the Sunlight to an interested publisher, and still I haven’t heard from them. The first two weeks of January with all it’s grayness left me feeling useless and depressed.
Then our new pastor Tim McConnell preached a sermon on II Corinthians 1: 15-21. I’ve always had difficulty understanding the passage, but this time God opened my understanding. Verses 19-20 says, “The Son of God, Christ Jesus. . . was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes.”
Applied to my predicament, the verses mean that a promise from God like—“I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). — is a solid rock that I could stand on in Christ. Therefore, as I seek God, I can be sure that whatever I write or accomplish this year will be “Yes,” in Christ. It will be something positive that will do others good, something God has his hand on as he watches over me with affirmation. Realizing this gives me courage.
As we make our way through the transitions of aging, we can also claim Isaiah 46:4: “Even to your old age I am He, I am He who will sustain you, I have made you; I will carry you, I will sustain you. I will rescue you.”
And I love this one. “The glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old.” Proverbs 20:29 NIV. So when your hair turns gray, remember it’s a splendor in the eyes of the King.
Whatever transitions we are facing, we can have an adventuring heart that moves through them with hope and peace. Why? Because Christ is there holding us up. Because He is forever faithful.