Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Harry's Way

I really do have to give Harry the bulk of the credit for these cinnamon rolls that we sold so many of. He tried to get me to make them for two years before I finally relented. I said they were too labor intensive. He said they would sell like hotcakes. We were both right. That's why we had to throw in the towel in 2011 - he was working full time and asking him to come home after a hot day in the plant and spend 2-3 hours rolling out cinnamon rolls would have been incredibly rude. And, I didn't have the upper body strength or the patience to do them myself.

GOOD cinnamon rolls are time intensive and fairly labor intensive. For the time, there are two risings involved with an egg dough. Sometimes egg yeast doughs go crazy and other times they take their own sweet time getting to "ready to bake" stage. For the labor, rolling and shaping the dough takes patience. Harry used a tape measure for every single batch to make sure the dimensions were perfect. He might have been a bit more precise than those cinnamon roll shops you can watch in the mall.

I won't bore you with pictures of all the ingredients - watching those big, burly hands in action should be good enough!

This recipe makes two dozen cinnamon rolls. To be precise, Harry weighed every single batch and cut it in half. He asked me to meet him at Adobe Gila's one afternoon for margaritas. It was there that he presented me with this rolling pin. I know it's kind of strange, a man giving a woman a rolling pin as a gift but know this: Harry uses it more than I do.

After rolling the dough into a 16 inch by 24 inch rectangle, it's time to spread the butter. Please, please, please: don't ever try to pass off cinnamon rolls made with margarine. You MUST use real butter. What you might not know is that Harry MUST use a very particular flexible plastic spatula. It works best if the butter is room temperature but don't ever be tempted to melt it. Just be patient - it will spread.

After sprinkling on a very generous amount of brown sugar mixed with a heavy dose of cinnamon, Harry meticulously spreads the mixture to a uniform thickness. THIS is why I mix the dough and put the cinnamon rolls in the oven, and then squeeze on the icing. Harry does the detail part. It worked well that way.

Ignore the stainless steel table - I'm proud of this shot. You really can see the evenness of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. And those big manly hands were able to start the rolling process very tightly.

Yes, he used a tape measure to cut every cinnamon roll. Remember that you will have to go through all of the above steps twice with this recipe.

Why yes, I did learn a few decorating tips while I worked at the Kroger bakery! Yes, I'm left handed but this is how you should twist a pastry bag and hold it. We were making these cinnamon rolls for Harry to take into work, so we made them in four-pans for traveling ease. A cookie sheet works well when you are serving them individually.

To smear or to drizzle, that is the question. When we were selling these rolls, we were not the only vendor with this as a product. A comment we heard more than once was "Oh, these don't have so much icing on them." Yeah, a mall cinnamon rolls smothered in cream cheese icing is fine but our informal survey says a little goes a long way. Only let the rolls cool for about 3-4 minutes before you start to drizzle. That way, the icing can kind of ooze down between the layers.

And yes, this was breakfast!!

Yes - the baked cinnamon rolls can be frozen. If you're into nuking your goodies to warm them up (from room temp) my mom says 30 seconds is perfect. You can also retard the second rising by putting the cut rolls on the pan into the refrigerator the night before you'd like the gooeyness for breakfast. Pull them out of the fridge when you start the coffee. When the rest of the lazy-bones are ready to eat, preheat the oven and bake as directed.

Recipe for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls


2 cups milk
2/3 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons quick-rise yeast
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
8-9 cups bread flour

Heat butter and milk over medium-low heat to 110-125 degrees Fahrenheit. While heating, combine yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups of bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. When milk mixture is warmed to temperature (the butter may not be melted), turn mixer on low and pour milk mixture in. Stir on low for 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once. Add eggs, while mixer is on low, mixing until well incorporated. Add two more cups of flour and continue to mix on low speed for 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once.

Increase the mixer speed to two and gradually add the remaining four cups of flour until the dough begins to clean the side of the bowl. Continue to knead for 10-12 minutes on speed two, adding additional flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky.

Remove the dough (and dough hook) from the mixer bowl and shape the dough into a ball. Add a small amount of canola oil to the bowl, place the ball of dough top-side down into the bowl, and then turn it over, coating the dough. Cover with a clean towel and set aside to rise until doubled (about one hour).


2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.

Shaping the Cinnamon Rolls

When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Divide the dough in half and leave one half covered. Working on a large surface, roll the dough half into a 16 inch by 24 inch rectangle, keeping the edges square. Spread 1/3 cup of softened butter across the dough surface. Sprinkle one-half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the butter. Using clean, dry hands, spread the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly across the butter.

Working from the 24-inch side of the dough nearest you, roll the dough tightly in jelly roll fashion, taking care to keep the ends even. Cut the roll into 12 even portions and place them cut side down on a greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough.

Cover the cinnamon rolls with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled - at least 1 1/2 hours.

Baking and Icing the Cinnamon Rolls

When the cinnamon rolls have doubled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake on the middle rack for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Cream Cheese Icing (but you can use your favorite buttercream)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Spoon into a pastry bag and cut the tip.

Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Without covering the tops, liberally drizzle the cream cheese icing over the cinnamon rolls.

Try not to burn your tongue by eating them while they are too hot!

1 comment:

  1. YUM! These look so good, but too labor intensive for me.


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