Royal Neighbors member and employee, Amy Jones, shares how food can bring back memories and inspire new ones.
The memory is just a blip in my brain, but it’s packed with feelings of warmth and joy. When I was little, so little that I was in pre-school at the time, I remember my mom making cinnamon rolls from scratch. I recall the smell and happiness that came with it. I remember neighbors coming in our back door to grab a warm roll because they could smell them baking. She couldn’t make them fast enough, and I knew I needed to grab one before they were gone! It’s one of my first memories of how food can help us build relationships.
After my brothers and sisters were born, my mom lost track of her recipe and no longer had time to create this ooey-gooey goodness. So, I was inspired to begin perfecting my own recipe, reviving one of my favorite childhood memories to share with my own two kids. (An important step in this process included having my mom taste test various versions to measure how close I was getting to the original. She enjoyed this job!)
Since my time to bake is limited, I have attempted to perfect a one-rise, from scratch cinnamon roll recipe. This recipe – the new family standard – is grandmother-, mother-, and kid-approved.
Ingredients for the rolls:
- 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 and 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 packet)
- 1/2 cup whole milk (I’ve used other milk before, and it’s been fine, but whole milk is better for this recipe)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon (I almost always double this because I love cinnamon)
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (granulated sugar works as well – but I prefer brown sugar)
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2–3 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee (can be replaced with milk – but I prefer coffee)
- A standard cream cheese frosting can be a nice change sometimes
- Make the dough: Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the milk, water, and butter together.
- Microwave the wet mixture until it’s about 120°F. This is an important step – you need the mixture to be warm enough but not too hot, so the buns will rise. I always use a baking thermometer.
- Using a mixture, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the egg, and stir until it forms a soft dough. If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle in a bit more flour. Mix for approximately 2 or 3 minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface.
- Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. I spray it with a non-stick spray and cover loosely. Let rest for 10 minutes. Don’t skip this step!
- After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8-inch rectangle.
- Spread the softened butter on top. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together. Sprinkle it all over the dough. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 10-12 even rolls and arrange in a lightly greased 9-inch round pie pan.
- Rise: Tightly cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes. I heat my oven to 150 degrees and then leave rolls in there with the door open for at least 30 minutes. I close the door after 30 minutes. If it’s too warm, it will kill the yeast.
- After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375°F and bake for 25-28 minutes until lightly browned. If you notice the tops are getting too brown too quickly, loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and continue baking.
- Meanwhile, you can make the icing. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and coffee together. Drizzle or spread over warm rolls.
Warning: Be prepared to make a second batch immediately – or plan to double the recipe. Cooking with love never goes unnoticed. You won’t believe the smell that comes out of your kitchen…and the loved ones who crowd in!