The reason these homemade cinnamon rolls are called Christmas – is that I have been making and serving them on Christmas morning for decades – while the girls were growing up and now when they come to visit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I usually make the refrigerated dough ahead of time and set up them up in rolls early on Christmas morning where they will rise and then be baked to eat hot out of the oven while we open presents, drink coffee and inhale the warm rolls. Afterwards, we’ll have a brunch of Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce on top.
But back to the cinnamon rolls. This is a basic refrigerator roll recipe from my red Betty Crocker cookbook that I bought in the !960’s when I was first married. It is now taped together with scotch tape across the spine and held together with two rubber bands so that the cover stays on.
I just made the dough so here’s the ingredients below. The most important caveat is to mix and handle the dough GENTLY throughout the process. The less the dough is kneaded and handled, the more tender the rolls will be. This is why I don’t use a mixer but just a large spoon and rubber spatula.
1 3/4 cup warm water
2 packets of Fleischmann’s dry yeast dissolved in the water
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar (I use raw, turbinado sugar)
1 Tablespoon salt (Maldon sea salt)
1 extra large egg
Mix all of the above ingredients until smooth without beating or mixing too hard. You want to handle the dough gently throughout so that it will be tender to the bite and rise up easily.
To the wet mixture, add 6 cups of flour. I aereate the flour (King Arthur) before putting it into a one cup measure. If the flour is packed down, you’ll be adding more flour than called for.
I stir in 2 cups of flour at a time with a mixing spoon and then use my clean hands to knead the dough gently to incorporate all the loose flour and crumbs at the end. It should feel resilient and smooth – and don’t worry, the loose flour and crumbs will fold in as you knead it gently.
I then put the dough into a big mixing bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, refrigerating it until I’m ready to set up the rolls.
SETTING UP THE ROLLS:
Divide the dough in half and save the other half in the fridge for another time, or use it if you’re making the rolls for a large crowd.
On parchment paper, sprinkle some loose flour but not too much. Knead the dough on the floured board so that it doesn’t stick. If it’s very sticky, add a little more flour and incorporate.
Melt half a stick of unsalted butter and roll the dough out to about a third of an inch thick. Spread the melted butter on the dough. Mix together ground cinnamon and sugar – and spread it evenly (slightly thickly) on the dough.
Roll it up from lengthwise edge and pinch the roll together. Pat it and then cut the roll into cinnamon roll size – and place in a buttered baking pan with sides. The rolls should not be touching because they will rise again and fill in the spaces when risen.
Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap until they are risen. Usually takes about an hour. I sometimes preheat the oven to 200 and TURN IT OFF. Then, put the rolls in the oven to rise with the oven door open.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and slide the rolls in. Watch them as they bake about 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown on the top and the rolls are cooked. Set them out on a plate and let the folks pull them apart onto their paper Christmas plates ready for serving.
Merry Christmas! My granddaughter, Anna, loves these cinnamon rolls and is capable of eating quite a number of them while they’re still warm!