In which I bake. . . a lot.

Something about being snowed in makes me want donuts or cinnamon rolls. Maybe since that’s what my mom and the neighbor kids’ mom always served up on sledding days. Who knows. I’ve baked entirely too much these last three days. (And a huge brisket is going in the oven shortly.)

Sure, chocolate cupcakes and cinnamon rolls have helped me get over missing the Austin SCBWI conference with rockstar speakers NATHAN BRANSFORD and CHERYL KLEIN. And my much anticipated critique with Sara Lewis Holmes of OPERATION YES fame. I can follow on Twitter (#AustinSCBWI) and chalk it up as a lesson learned in planning trips a la winter. The upside is, the director is mailing my critique, so it’s not a total loss. Yay for that, right?
Back to snow days and baking. This here book, PEACE LIKE a RIVER by Leif Enger, stayed with me for months after I finished.
The prose is breath-taking, and it put me on a serious hunt for the nation’s greatest cinnamon rolls. Enger’s description of 11 year-old Reuben Land’s sister Swede’s rolls will have your mouth watering. I’d never thought to add a tablespoon or two of coffee into the glaze.
The story itself revolves around Reuben, an asthmatic boy from Minnesota who has good reason to believe in miracles. “Here’s what I saw,” Rube warns his readers. “Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.” And Rube sees plenty. His brother is, after all, on the run from the law.
And miracle of all snow day miracles, I have found the perfect cinnamon roll. Hearty thanks to the fabulous Pioneer Woman. (All her recipes are fabulous.)
Note: I cut this recipe in half and still cut way back on the butter and sugar. Also I use half whole grain flour. It makes me feel better. But you do what you want. 😉 Just be prepared for melt in your mouth goodness.
Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls
  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • Plenty Of Melted Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
  • _____
  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ¼ cups Melted Butter
  • ¼ cups Brewed Coffee
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
Preparation Instructions

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

6 Responses to “In which I bake. . . a lot.”

  1. Mer

    LOVE THESE!!!! I left a recipe on my blog if you want it! It's GREAT…guess were were thinking along the same lines!

  2. Tess

    Yummmm! Why can't you live next door??? I'd bring the cold milk. 😀

    And, Peace Like a River is one of my all time favorites. I also liked "Undiscovered Country" by his brother Lin. A very different and intense story but quite well done.

  3. Clara Gillow Clark

    SO sorry that you couldn't make the Austin SCBWI conference, but now I'm yearning for cinnamon rolls, too! They're a comfort food from childhood. I used to make them a lot, and I still remember my mother taking them from the oven on a wintry Sunday morning. I'm going to look for PEACE LIKE A RIVER and pass it along to my sisters.

  4. Audra

    Wish I had been snowed in at your house!! Sorry that you missed your conference. Just figures that the storm would have been then.