Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

Every Christmas morning, before the rest of my family gets out of bed, I am down in the kitchen with my mom making a whole spread of delectable sweets which we feast on throughout the day.  We don’t do the normal Christmas dinner with the nice turkey or ham, we do tooth achingly sweet breads.  Monkey bread and cinnamon rolls.  She makes the monkey bread, I make the rolls.  It’s tradition.This morning I woke up singing Christmas songs as though I were dreaming of the season.  I immediately got up and put on my Christmas radio station on Pandora and got a hankering for warm, gooey cinnamon rolls.  Yes, I do realize it is only August.  I also realize Christmas is only 4 months and 8 days away!!!

So I set out to make these rolls.  They require a pretty good amount of time to make as the dough needs to rise twice.  I jumped up and ran to the grocery store to gather some ingredients I was out of and hurried home to begin.

Dough Ingredients:
2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup warm milk (80-90 degrees)
5 tbs melted butter (80-90 degrees)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt

First, gather your mise en place  so you aren’t running out to the store in the middle of baking.

Proof the yeast by putting it into the warm water with 1 tsp sugar and gently whisk it briefly to break up the big chucks of yeast.  Let it sit without moving the bowl for 10 minutes.

You will know when the yeast has become active when it doubles in size, becomes nice and frothy, and smells nutty and delicious!

Now, I hate doing extra dishes, but this next step is crucial.  Load up a large mixing bowl with flour.  Fill your measuring cup with a spoon and place into a separate bowl.  This method prevents you from packing down the flour by scooping directly out of the bag.  Carefully dump the extra flour back into the bag.  Add the salt and stir to combine.

In a stand mixer, mix the sugar and eggs.  Temper the milk and melted butter into the eggs by setting the mixer on low and slowly pour the milk and butter a little bit at a time into the eggs.  If you pour too fast the warm milk will make scrambled eggs, which does not make a great base for cinnamon rolls.  Try not to spill milk all over your counter either!

Then add your proofed yeast mixture and half of the flour and slowly combine.  Add in the rest of the flour and mix until dough is smooth.  Spray a bowl with Pam and roll the dough ball around to cover all surfaces with the grease.  Cover in plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise to double it’s size.

Outside it goes for me!  Right next to our eggplants, cucumbers, and bell peppers!  Soon enough it will look like this:

Cinnamon Filling Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tbs cinnamon
5 tbs butter, softened

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together.

This was mixed in a glass bowl, though it looks like I mixed it right on my counter.

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface into a 16 x 22 inch rectangle.  Place pats of butter on the dough and smooth out with a paper towel.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on top.  And eat a few sugar clumps while you’re at it! Mmm…

Roll it into a 16 inch long tube.

Once the log is rolled comes the fun part.  Take dental floss and put it under the roll.  Bring up the sides, cross them at the top and pull straight to make a smooth perfect cut.  Make 12 rolls.

Arrange rolls on a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Cover in plastic wrap to rise to double their size in a warm location.  Time to make the cream cheese icing!

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, and mix until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake rolls (remove plastic wrap) for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Spread icing over rolls when they are still warm.

These rolls taste amazing and were worth the long wait.  Now to make a cup of tea…

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