Sunday, April 25, 2010

Your (great) grandmother's cinnamon rolls

I am a cookbook fiend. I am hoping to find a way to introduce you to all my cookbooks and maybe feature a few of them, but I haven't come up with a really good way to do that yet. For now, let me introduce you to my prize cookbook.

I found this at a flea market for $10 and HAD to have it. Had to. Here's one of the reasons why:

That's right... 1923. A year before my grandmother was born (the one who is 86 and still lives on her own). This cookbook was published that long ago. It also came from the smallish town in Kansas where, many years later, my mother went to high school. That was another selling point.

This is THE first recipe in the book, after you get through all the information about how to properly set a table and other various interesting tidbits. These cinnamon rolls are the best things ever. They really are. I wouldn't lie.

You have to start by scalding a cup of milk. I use whole milk in recipes like these. I see no reason not to when you're just going to cover them in butter and sugar anyway. Anyway, so heat the milk up to 'almost' boiling (I'm lazy and use the microwave that they would have used in 1923 if they'd had them back then) and then let it cool to the point where you can stick your finger in it and leave it there for a few seconds. Then you add 1/4 c. water, 2 T. sugar, and one packet (2 3/4 tsp.) yeast. Give that a stir, and it should look something like the above picture.

Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, and it should look like this:

Beautiful yeasty goodness. Then throw in 1 1/2 cups of flour, mix well, and cover it with a towel or plastic wrap.

Set the sponge somewhere warm and slightly humid. In winter, when it's so dry here my hair will stand on end just by LOOKING at a blowdryer, I preheat the oven to 170, turn it back off, put a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven and put the bowl on the rack. But I'm anal retentive like that. Friday, however, was a perfect day for cinnamon roll makers; 78 degrees in the house. I switched on the oven just long enough to have some heat/humidity come out the vents at the top near the back of the range and then turned it back off. Hence the fogginess of the plastic wrap.

Works like a charm.

An hour later, you'll have something like this. Light, fluffy, and slightly sweet to the taste.

Oh, did I mention you'll want to bring a couple of eggs and some butter (note I said BUTTER... margarine just won't do the job right... but salted butter is fine) to room temperature? You should do that while the sponge is rising.

Mix together 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. softened butter, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 egg yolks. Again, I brought modern-day appliances to the party. I'm all for ease of preparation and helping you raise your cholesterol.

Add your egg mixture to the sponge and mix well. Then throw in 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix it well and then knead it with your hands till it's got a fairly smooth surface and can be shaped into a ball.
I usually transfer the ball to a clean, slightly oiled bowl for the next rising. It'll take about an hour and a half for this to double, though I have been known to forget that it's in the oven (again, in winter) and let it go for about three hours and haven't had any trouble.

I'm just sayin'. It's very forgiving. Like my grandmother.
This lovely blue photo was taken after the dough had risen. It was ready to be rolled out and made into cinnamony deliciousness.

Some cookbooks give you measurements as to how big your dough should be. For me, I roll it out till it looks about the right thickness and then score it with a knife to see if I can get 12 1" strips out of it. If I can, then I move on. If not, keep rolling or fold it back together and try again. Just don't work too much flour into it. You can see my score marks at the edge of the dough here.

I take another 2-3 tablespoons of butter and melt it down and brush it all over the dough, then cover it with brown sugar (however much is up to you... I probably have about 3/4 c. to 1 c. there) and then douse it all in cinnamon (again, add till it suits your taste). Slice and roll up the strips and place them into a buttered 9x13 pan.

Yes, I said 'buttered.' Works much, much better than Pam.

I usually throw any sugar/cinnamon that leaks out of the rolls back into the pan. No sense in wasting good cinnamon sugar!

Let the rolls sit for about 20 minutes to rise and then bake at 375 F for another 20 minutes.
They're taunting you now.

And now they're just blatantly challenging you to just eat one.

Pardon me while I wipe the icing off my mouth.


Learning 4 Life said...

Mmmmmmmmm. I can literally almost taste them and smell them! Those look perfectly delicious! And I love that cookbook!!! How cool :-)

snowywinter621 said...

Finally found the recipe that I was looking for that my great great gramma Hawley handed down to my gramma and then to my mother, who literally memorized it and never needed a recipe. After searching for a few days I came across your recipe and I recognized the ingredients immediately! Thanks so much for sharing this. I did add raisins like mama did and they are wonderful. Took me back a good many years to when I was growing up.

Sarah said...

So glad I was able to help! I love these cinnamon rolls and hope they're every bit as good as when your great-great-gramma made them!