You Asked For It: cinnamon rolls

I am looking for an easy cinnamon roll recipe to make from scratch. Thank you.

Lyn Wood, St. Petersburg

Tampa resident Lynn Cannella e-mailed her response to Lyn's request and attached a link to a video showing Ree Drummond, a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, making her cinnamon rolls recipe. It looked so easy, and it really is. (Search Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls on YouTube.)

As the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song says, the waiting is the hardest part. Between simmering the liquid ingredients, rising time and baking it took about 3 hours from start to finish, but this recipe is well worth it.

Regarding the icing, if you don't like maple, substitute vanilla extract. Extra milk can be used in place of the coffee, too, so don't let that stop you from making this recipe. A plain powdered sugar frosting would be just as delicious or you could add some orange juice for an orange frosting.

No kneading is necessary, making it perfect for bakers afraid of trying recipes with yeast. I am actually one of those bakers and this recipe will be part of my regular repertoire. It's that easy. It is important to note that only 8 cups of flour are mixed in initially as it would be very easy to mix all 9 cups. The final cup goes in after the first rise.

The filling is perfect as is, but if you like nuts in your cinnamon rolls, you can add finely chopped pecans after sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar. When cutting the slices, use the sharpest knife you have to prevent smushed rolls. Try not to saw back and forth when cutting to preserve their shape.

I was baking all the rolls at one time so I used a 9- by 13-inch pan plus two 9-inch pie plates for all the rolls. I made the mistake of crowding the baking dish and only had a few in the second pie plate. They cooked evenly but it would have been a prettier presentation if I had started putting them in the pie plates.

This recipe is definitely a keeper on many accounts. It's easy, has lots of potential variations and is delicious. And because it makes so many servings, it's great for a big family brunch or a party.

Recipe requests

Janine Burns of Inverness remembers a recipe her mother used to make and hopes someone can help her with quantities. It was a beef eye of round and it was basted with a mixture of horseradish, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and onions. This "gravy" was served over rice to complement the meat. She would like to share the recipe with her five siblings. Sarah Owens of St. Petersburg would like two recipes from Snappers restaurant in St. Pete Beach. The first is for the Snappers house salad, including the dressing, and the second is for the Snappers salsa that was served on a fish dish. She thinks it had strawberries and bananas in it, among other things.

Recipes tested by Times correspondent Ellen Folkman unless otherwise noted. Send requests to You Asked For It, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

>>MODERATE

Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:

1 quart whole milk

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

2 packages (4 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast

9 cups all-purpose flour, divided use

1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon salt

Filling:

2 cups melted butter, divided use, plus more as needed

¼ cup ground cinnamon, divided use, for sprinkling

2 cups sugar, divided use, plus more as needed

Maple Icing:

2 pounds powdered sugar

½ cup whole milk

6 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ cup strongly brewed coffee

Dash of salt

1 tablespoon maple flavoring or maple extract

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; do not allow it to boil. Set aside to cool until lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute. Add 8 cups of the flour to the Dutch oven (no need to dirty a mixing bowl) and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

Remove the towel and add the baking power, baking soda, salt and remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away or leave half in the Dutch oven and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 by 10 inches, on your work area.

To make filling, pour 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter.

Now, beginning at the end (side) farthest from you, roll the wide rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don't worry if the filling oozes out as you work; that just means they are going to be delicious. When you reach the end, pinch the seams together. When you're finished, you'll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey roll.

Transfer to a cutting board and, with a sharp knife, cut into 1 ½-inch slices. One log will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the desired pie pans or baking dishes and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd.

Repeat the rolling-sugar-butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 13 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Don't allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the Maple Icing. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add more maple, sugar, butter or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency.

While the rolls are still warm, generously drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing's moisture and flavor. They only get better with time.

Makes 40 to 50 cinnamon rolls.

Source: Shared by Lynn Cannella of Tampa, from a recipe by Ree Drummond, a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman

You Asked For It: cinnamon rolls 02/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 3:30am]

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