Grandma Lila made the BEST cinnamon rolls! Sunday and Holiday mornings at Grandma Lila’s would start out several trays of sweet, gooey, goodness. She would make huge batches of them to feed her loving husband, 8 children, several in-laws, 20 grandchildren, family friends, and even a few great-grandchildren. Needless to say, she had it down to a fine art. One summer she walked me through the entire process, and while at the time, it seemed fairly straightforward and basic it took me about eight attempts to get the rolls right on my own. Over the years, I have asked her a few times to write down the recipe for me, and when she did I would always ended up with a slightly different recipe then the one before. The one thing that seemed to be key to my Grandma’s recipes was getting the proofing right, and putting the dough through 3 different rises. Not only was it difficult to get the timing right on the proofing, but it would also take about 6 hours to make these rolls. The recipe below is an attempt I made to rework Lila’s recipe so that the dough only needs 2 rises instead of usual 3, saving time, while still attaining a light, velvety dough. I decided to go with self-rising flour, which I had never before used in bread baking, and the addition of more eggs. This led me to investigating other egg-rich bread recipes such as the challah recipes found in Hensperger’s Bread Bible. These served as another template for the recipe below.
Lila’s Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe makes 12 large rolls.
- 3 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 6 – 6 1/2 cups Flour
- 1 3/4 cups hot Water
- 4 Eggs (room temp)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted Butter
- 3 – 4 tbsp cubed Butter (for filling)
- 2 tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 cup chopped Walnuts (optional)
- In a large bowl whisk together 2 cups of flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, the 1 tsp salt, and the 3 1/2 tsp of yeast.
- Make a hollow in the middle of your dry ingredients, and place the water, beaten eggs, and melted butter in the hollow.
- Beat the ingredients together for about 3 minutes.
- Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time while still beating.
- Knead the dough for about 4 minutes. I use bread hooks. The dough is very soft and sticky, and can be hard to knead by hand unless you add more flour.
- Place the dough in a large greased bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Use a fork to poke holes in the plastic wrap.
- Wet a clean towel in warm water and place it on top of the plastic wrap.
- Allow the dough to rise for about 3 hours at room temperature. The dough should have doubled.
- Grease a large baking dish with sides that are at least a couple of inches high.
- Dust your work surface with some flour, and roll out your dough into a large rectangle. The dough should be about 1/2″ thick.
- Sprinkle the cubed butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts evenly across the dough.
- Take one of the longer ends of the dough and roll it over. Continue rolling it until your dough is in the shape of a large log with the filling within.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 even segments – about 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick.
- Place the rolls in the greased baking dish. The rolls will grow so do not worry about leaving some space between them.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes. Do not worry if they have not fully doubled in size, they should continue to grow in the oven.
- Bake the rolls for about 45 – 50 minutes. The rolls should be golden on top and baked all the way through.
- Ice the rolls while they are still hot. That way the icing will melt slightly and seep into the rolls. My Grandma would use store bought cream cheese icing, but I used homemade cream cheese icing. You can find that recipe at the bottom of my Snowflake Cookie posting.