On A Roll


What is it that makes a cinnamon roll so very delicious?


A Bite of Heaven


Cinnamon rolls. Just the words conjure up pictures of sweet and yummy goodness.  I swear there is almost something magic in devouring a warm and sticky cinnamon bun. Even a mediocre one is like a whole lot of love embodied in a small package of warm baked dough. And a good cinnamon roll…let’s just say it’s a special treat that can change the way I feel about the rest of my day.


Definition of Perfect


I know everyone has their preference, but to me a good cinnamon roll must be gooey in the middle (though not undercooked), have icing (not frosting) and definitely no nuts or raisins. I must repeat this last part—NO NUTS and NO RAISINS!  Now, I’ve been told that nuts and raisins have a place in some recipes, but I have to say, I am hard pressed to think of an example where either ingredient actually improves on one.  To me it’s a texture thing.  I like to take that bite without coming into contact with some hidden time bomb of unexpected unpleasantness.  And if you think that’s bad, I’m even worse when it comes to cookies.  I mean, who hasn’t bit into a great looking chocolate chip cookie only to discover it’s not a chocolate chip at all.  No, no, say it’s not a cold slimy raisin!  Blech!




Now, when it comes to cake I’m a frosting fanatic. To me cake is merely the vehicle to deliver frosting to my mouth.  This makes a big piece of cake equivalent to a large cargo van, which is obviously better than a small Mini-Cooper piece of cake because the one has lots and lots of frosting and the other is cute, but much too small to hold the critical mass.


Bad Dreams


Kneading is a workout.  Whew!

Hey, I’m starting to think this whole baking thing is fun.

Honestly, I have tried hard, but I simply cannot believe there is ever too much frosting. I am also totally mystified by those people who actually like cake without it. Are they crazy?  Though I find it a thoroughly distressing form of human behavior, I’ve actually witnessed people scrape frosting off of their cake and leave it on their plate.  Can you imagine it?  What can they possibly be thinking?  Are they insane?  Do they realize the nightmares they generate for me with their callous disregard for the innate beauty of semi-liquid sugar?


Did You Hear That, Honey?


Agreed, not all frosting is equal, but to me it’s always the best part.  This is why I feel so fortunate to have a hubby who really isn’t into frosting as I am.  Sometimes he displays an incredible loving side to his personality—he’ll actually split a piece of cake with me, and then offer to take the dry, spongy, far-less desirable cake portion, thereby leaving me the creamy and delicious frosting portion all for myself. Are you listening, there, Sweetcakes?  You really take the cake. Really.


Hey, I'll eat it anyway.

Believe it or not these coffee shop rolls had too much frosting for me.

Back On A Roll


Based on the above, you might find it a bit shocking when I say that a good cinnamon roll should be iced and not frosted. To me, a good icing (made from powdered sugar, vanilla, a tad of butter and some milk) enhances a cinnamon roll more than any kind of frosting ever could. And perhaps even more surprising, this icing shouldn’t be slathered on, but applied to the cinnamon roll while warm and just out of the oven so as to become one with the roll.  Call it a Zen thing.


The Gooey


The inside of the cinnamon roll is another hard thing get just right. The ultimate goal is to find a roll with a delightfully cinnamon-sugary, buttery combination.  Now, any cinnamon roll will probably be best in its center, but some just scream EAT ME!  Oh, believe me when I say I’ve had my fair share of those.  They’re so hard to resist, and if you’re not careful you keep eating and eating, until you reach the point of sugar intoxication and bloat.  This state should be avoided, if possible.  Otherwise, you end up rolling around the floor and moaning over how stuffed you are. Been there, done that.  It’s not a pretty sight.


Grandmotherly Love


I believe there is a cosmic connection between grandmothers and cinnamon rolls.  Both my hubby and I had grandmothers who made the world’s best cinnamon buns. I’m really sure my grandmother’s rolls could have whipped his grandmother’s, but he claims it just ain’t so.  Too bad they’re no longer around.  I can envision a special version of Iron Chef.  We could call it: “Grandma’s Buns Edition”. Ah, yes, it saddens me that neither of these truly grand ladies is still with us.  However, I don’t know what we were thinking by letting them take their recipes to the grave.


Fresh baked cinnamon rolls just for me!

I could just imagine them coming out of the oven. There was no way to resist.

Modern Day Buns


The other day I went grocery shopping. I know better, but I left the house hungry and started making my way down the baking aisle of the store. It was then I saw a package with a cinnamon roll on the front. I could swear it was calling my name.  Resistance, as they say, was futile.  I reached for the package and scanned for directions.  Wow!  All you had to do was add some water and eggs, mix it up, and instant presto (after an hour or so) you had your dough. I thought, “This sounds easy!”  Of course, as I continued scanning I realized the box was really just a box for making buns and I’d have to add my own sugar, butter and cinnamon.  Still, I knew I had those ingredients at home so I said, “What the heck. I’ll give it a try.”  Hey, they weren’t half bad!


Engage Brain


A little success and a prompt from hubby (i.e. he opened his mouth and pointed to it) got me thinking I could make rolls from scratch.  I searched the web.  I found lots of recipes, no shocker there, and some of them even seemed like something I could do. This web thing still amazes me.


I ended up picking one that had a nice twist to it—you make it up in the evening and let the dough set overnight in the refrigerator. Then in the morning you make up your rolls and have nice warm buns for breakfast. By now, I was dedicated to make this work. And in spite of my tendency to avoid following a recipe (see my recent post), I remember being told that the difference between baking and cooking is you have to follow the recipe when baking, even if you don’t when cooking. The ratios in baking are there for a purpose.  Use them and the recipe should work.  Do your own thing and risk complete and utter failure. So here was my big chance to shine.  Yes, by golly, if I was going to make some yummy cinnamon rolls, I was darn well going to follow the recipe.  I could do this!


Getting the rolls ready for baking.

All I had to do was roll them out, butter them up and add some cinnamon and sugar.

Easy As Pie


There wasn’t anything terribly hard about the process.  The dough—a hearty wheat version—rose its little heart out as promised. After an hour I had to punch it down, and then I popped it into the fridge for the night. In the morning I rolled it out, added brown sugar and cinnamon and popped my finished product in the oven.


Four Sticky Thumbs Up


The rolls turned out to be scrumptious. One of the true tests for me was my hubby’s opinion, since he is the one who is the whole wheat fanatic in our household. Perhaps fanatic is too strong of word, but he does prefer whole wheat to “regular” flour because of the health benefits. Personally I find whole wheat rolls are better than no rolls at all, but they just don’t have the same mouth feel. However, I will admit these cinnamon rolls tasted pretty darn good. Definitely four sticky thumbs up!


If you want a copy of the recipe I found, click here.


Next Up


My next batch of rolls will be from a more traditional recipe that doesn’t go in the refrigerator.  This one will take some serious kneading.  Who knows, that could be a good thing—I’m going to have to work off a few calories if I keep eating all these rolls.


If you liked this article by Carol, you may also enjoy reading :

Familyisms – The Family Slang or

Playing By The Rules Of The Kitchen



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