Ingrid, here it is ~ a really nice cinnamon roll recipe that I believe your family will love. This Paula Deen recipe makes 15 medium sized rolls, works up pretty easily, with ingredients that are typical to most pantries and kitchens. I hope my pictures and my narrative will help you serve these delightful rolls for your family's Christmas breakfast and many more!
First the ingredients.
Paula Deen's Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough
1/4-ounce package active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons if you're using bulk form)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Get all all your ingredients and any tools you might need. As I use my ingredients I put them away so if anything is left over I know it's one that I inadvertently admitted, grins.
Start by scalding your milk. Boil over medium heat; you will notice a skin forming, which is just the milk fat that has cooked. You can just scoop it out and discard. I then melted my butter in the heated milk and set it aside.
While the milk was scalding, I microwaved the wave, tested with an instant-read thermometer. The directions on my jar of yeast said to proof in water between 100 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. I had heated the water too hot, cooled it down by stirring in an ice cube, took out any water added by the melting ice cube.
Add the yeast and stir quickly to combine. Within moments you will see the yeast start to "bloom," meaning that it's active and good to use.
Once the yeast is fully proofed, it will look nice and foamy. This will generally take about 5 to10 minutes. If your yeast does not fully bloom like this, throw it away and start over.
In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Sift the dry ingredients in as you add them to remove any clumps or lumps.
Add the yeast mixture and give it a good stir. The batter is loose, but heavy.
The directions say to add in the remaining flour, but I would exercise some caution and not blindly follow those directions. There is 1 1/2 to 2 cups of flour remaining. Start with one cup, give a good stir until it's well incorporated. Take a look and see how sticky it still looks. Then get your hands involved here because you need to feel how wet and loose the dough is. I sift additional flour in with one hand and massage it in with the other, turning and mixing the whole time. Now as I've stated previously you make not need all the additional flour called for, but depending on the humidity of your home or the amount of moisture the wheat had while it was out in the fields, you may actually need more. The only way you are going to be able to tell is by the feel of the dough.
You are looking for that balance where it loses its gloppy, wet look and acquires a craggy, raggedy look that will not stick on your surface when you begin to knead it. Keep in mind that you will be using additional flour on your work surface, so it may be better to err on the side of too little flour because you can add it in while you're kneading. Unfortunately, the photo above was after I had dumped my ball of dough on my dough linen, patted it out, and flipped it front and back to flour to begin kneading so there's a light dusting of flour on it.
What's really important here is that I'd like you to note just how raggedy and rough the dough looks.
Kneading is going to take care of that! I start by folding my dough into a neat little package. I fold it in half and fold it again.
And then with the heels of my hands at the edge of the dough that is closest to me, using my upper body strength, I push the dough away from me, as if I were trying to push it through the linen. Give it a really, really good push. It's almost like those old timely washer women with their washboards, if you know what I mean.
You should now have an elongated piece of dough. Fold in half, and half again, and give it a quarter turn.
You want to work all the dough around the clock, working each side, by folding and turning, and kneading.
You may need to add a dusting of flour to your work surface and the top of the dough to prevent it from sticking.
Most directions say knead for 5 to 10 minutes. I think, unless your Superman and you have arms of steel, you'll want to knead for the full ten minutes. Once you have adequately kneaded your dough, it should look nice and smooth and luxurious.
Put your dough in a well buttered bowl, flipping the dough over so that it doesn't stick and let it rise for 1 to 1/2 hours, or until doubled. I use my oven, with a hot bowl of water beneath it, and the oven light on. (Yes, I know my oven needs to be cleaned, but I'm always using it!)
My dough rose in about an hour. Once it's doubled, punch it down. Let the dough rest for five minutes or so because it will make it easier to work with.
For The Filling
1/2 cup butter, melted, plus additional for pan
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for pan
2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 cup walnuts, pecans or raisins, or a mixture, optional
Once again lightly flour your work surface and a rolling pin, and the top of your dough. Roll the dough into a 9 inch x 15 inch rectangle.
Generously spread the melted butter on the dough. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, sugar, and the nuts or raisins if you are going to use them. (I didn't use all the butter or all the cinnamon-sugar mixture called for, because for me, it's just too much.)
Beginning at the long end that is facing you, evenly roll the dough into a cylinder towards the opposite side. It helps to use both your hands and roll both ends simultaneously, evening up the edges as you roll as best you can.
When you reach the end, pinch the ends together. I also give the cylinder another couple of turns to try and smooth the edges to stop the rolls from unraveling when I cut them or as they rise.
Generously butter a 15-inch x 9 -inch baking pan. Sprinkle in a little sugar and cinnamon on the bottom. Slice your cylinder into 15 one-inch-wide slices. My linen has one-inch markings on it so I just follow the lines. Otherwise I'd use a ruler to try and make the slices as even as possible.
Because I was doing the second proof on my counter top, I covered with plastic wrap. The directions said to proof for 45 minutes. My kitchen tends to run cool, it took about an hour.
You can see how the rolls are now touching.
Somewhere during this time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When ready, bake your rolls for about 30 minutes, or until a nice golden brown. I start checking my rolls at 25 minutes and then check every couple of minutes for doneness, first by sight, and then by lightly tapping a roll with the back of a knuckle to see if the roll sounds hollow. If there's a hollow sound, it's done.
For the Glaze
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-6 tablespoons hot water
While the rolls are baking, make the glaze. Combine the first three ingredients together and mix well. Add the hot water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until a desired spreading consistency is achieved. I only needed two tablespoons, but you may like a thinner glaze. When the rolls are slightly cooled (maybe ten minutes or so), lavishly spread on glaze.
And so, we have it. Cinnamon rolls.
Let me pluck the last two roses of my garden and join me at my table. Tell me about your day and what's in your heart. I want to hear all you have to say.
A nice hot cup of tea or coffee and hot cinnamon rolls await you.