While I really do try to eat healthy most of the time, I’m one of those people willing to just dig into the comfort food during the holidays. Throughout centuries and cultures, we use food to bind us together, to feel connected, and to show people we love them. I feel that food traditions during the holidays are among the most important, and I’m willing to go for an extra walk in order to eat a few extra calories.
With this in mind, I was after the perfect cinnamon roll recipe for years. My husband has these wonderful memories of his mom’s cooking when he was growing up. Specifically, he remembers how lovely and warm and wonderful it was when his mom made homemade cinnamon rolls for him and his siblings on Christmas mornings.
Since I love food, especially comfort food, I was determined to make cinnamon rolls for my husband and sons on Christmas morning. This was my plan. I wanted to carry on the tradition. Every year I tried. And every year I failed.
My husband’s mom was a great cook and was even a cook at the local school where my husband grew up in Montana, but, unfortunately, she passed away long before I even met my husband. This means no recipes for me, and while that may seem like a petty thing, “no recipes,” I’m a firm believer in food connections to memories and family, so even though the greatest tragedy is that my husband lost his mother, it’s no small tragedy that our family has none of her recipes to carry on with her traditions.
After first hearing the story about my husband’s warm memory of Christmas morning and cinnamon rolls, I set out to find a recipe and create a similar holiday memory for our family.
I started with a recipe that took like all day on Christmas Eve. It looked great, but, when you work with yeast, you usually are going to be working with it all day. But, oh my goodness, it was pretty awful. It was Christmas morning “this is pretty good because it has sugar on it” good but that’s about it.
I tried again the next year, and I found a cinnamon roll recipe that looked good but didn’t take all day. Those were some hard cinnamon rolls and not comforting at all.
But, last year, my husband found a quick dough recipe for dinner rolls, and I loved it. It allowed me to make yeast rolls in about 30 minutes. A miracle, right? And, then, one day we had the thought that maybe that dough could work with cinnamon rolls.
So I just invented a filling and icing plan and gave it a go. The results were quite comforting–and delicious.
This cinnamon roll recipe is now a part of our Christmas morning tradition, and I hope you enjoy them. You can make them in just a little over 30 minutes and maybe add a sweet breakfast treat to your holiday tradition.
Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Dough Recipe (adapted from Kitchenmeetsgirl.com)
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon very, very warm water
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup local honey
1/3 cup melted butter or olive oil (I used olive oil but use extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups of white, unbleached flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
(mix together and add after dough is rolled out)
1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons milk
(mix together; icing should be thick)
In a bowl, mix the warm water, yeast, honey, and butter or oil. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Make sure the water is very warm!
After 15 minutes, the mixture should be fluffy and bubbly. Add your egg, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix. Then, 1/2 cup at a time, add the rest of the flour. Roll it into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes.
When the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle. It should be thin for rolls and soft. Spread the filling evenly across the rectangle.
Carefully roll the dough from the long side of the rectangle. Go slowly and try to keep it even. When you have the dough into a giant roll, cut it into pieces about 1 inch to 1 and 1/4 inch wide. I usually have to leave off the ends and end up with 12 to 14 rolls.
Bake the rolls in a glass baking dish, 9 X 13, at 385 for 10 minutes. Rotate and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes depending upon your own. The rolls will be golden brown in the top when ready.
Let the rolls cool slightly before adding the icing. In addition to being yummy, these rolls are pretty as well, and I struggle with pretty, so that’s saying something.
I serve the sweet rolls with our farm fresh scrambled eggs and some fruit on the side.
I hope you enjoy these, and I hope our Christmas family tradition can warm your heart and tummy as well.
What are some of your holiday food traditions?