Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Quest for Ooey-Gooey

Every family has holiday rituals. I come from a long line of bakers; therefore, our holiday rituals usually involve sugar, flour, and butter. Some may even look forward to certain holidays because it’s the only time one can get that special dish. For me, it’s my father’s cinnamon rolls. Too loaded with delicious fat and delectable sugar to be breakfast staples, these softball-sized pastries are the highlight of my visits home. Every Christmas morning, I know I will awake to a buttery, gooey, and absolutely decadent treat. Calorie-wise, no one should eat even a whole one, but by noon the entire pan is licked clean.

There’s something comforting about making something as labor-intensive as a batch of cinnamon rolls. I was yeast-phobic up until recently, when I realized if I accidentally kill it I can just open another packet and start over. You combine some ingredients and watch as they transform into a cohesive, silky ball of dough. The dough magically doubles in size, after which you tenderly roll it out. After filling, rolling, slicing and baking, you have a labor of love so delicious that after one bite, you’ll hear moans of delight from your family and friends. They’re also addicting. If you make them once, you’ll make them year after year, if only because of the flood of requests.
Now, the following recipe will provide some pretty good cinnamon rolls, but they're not my dad's. It's a good starter recipe: a sweet, flaky roll with a delicious center. Back to my dad, I have no idea what he does that makes them so ridiculously gooey. We're talking melt -in-your-mouth, sweet delight. Apparently I don't have the touch. I have a plane ticket to go home for Christmas, and as God as my witness, I will never be hungry for a gooey cinnamon roll again.

Yummy Cinnamon Rolls

1 packet active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Cream Cheese Icing

8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour, mix until the dough is elastic and smooth. Knead the dough into a large ball. Put in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down. Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, about ¼-inch thick. To make the filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the dough into 12 even slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Beat all of the ingredients well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

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