Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grandma Voth's Cinnamon Rolls: Epic

I love Thanksgiving. A holiday devoted to family, food, football, and being thankful. Growing up, we always spent Thanksgiving at my Grandma Voth's house. And it was magical. Grandma was an amazing cook and I loved absolutely everything she made. This is how Thanksgiving at Grandma's would go:
1. Arrive Wednesday night, welcomed with some kind of delicious soup. I don't know what went into it but whatever it was, it warmed you to the core.
2. Wake up on Thanksgiving morning and eat a pan of cinnamon rolls and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Because that is the best thing that was on one of the three channels Grandma got out in Montezuma, KS. And it was fantastic.
3. There would typically be some sort of turkey fiasco: the turkey wasn't defrosted enough, the oven wasn't on, the turkey didn't cook through, the turkey was cooking unevenly...and on and on. This would result in Thanksgiving dinner being served sometime in the afternoon, depending on the degree of turkey crisis.
4. And there it was in all its glory: Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey (which I totally don't care about, I could do Thanksgiving without the turkey), and then all the glorious sides. Mashed potatoes: creamy, fluffy, wonderful. Brent and I could eat the whole batch. Stuffing, cranberry salad, rolls, sweet potatoes (Mom's favorite), carrot and raisin salad, among many other salad-y things that were mostly sugar coated fruit or veggies. And then there was the sauerkraut. I realize this isn't a staple in most Thanksgiving dinners but being the good German family that we were, this was a star. Sauerkraut with sausage. My dad loved this and since I adored my father and wanted to do everything he did, I ate the sauerkraut too and eventually learned to love it. I think the two of us were the only ones that ate it. Which is perfect, more for us.
5. After this amazing feast, we would pick at our pumpkin pie before lumbering to the living room to watch football in a food coma. Always leaving Grandma and Mom to clean up, which doesn't really seem fair now that I think about it.

And that was Thanksgiving, in all its wonderful glory. The leftovers lasted through the weekend and were always as good or better than the first time.

Now rewind to the cinnamon rolls of Thanksgiving morning. These cinnamon rolls were things of legend. Epic. Life-changing. Brent and I lived for these cinnamon rolls. Grandma couldn't come visit us without bringing them or have us visit her without a large stock of cinnamon rolls. Gooey, soft, warm, light crunchy icing, we could eat these forever. On our birthdays (or almost any occasion actually), she would let us eat a whole pan of them by ourselves. (Grandma clearly wasn't concerned with childhood obesity.) I made them with her a few times but never really knew how to make them. There wasn't a recipe. Grandma didn't have recipes for anything, she just kinda made stuff and it turned out wonderful. Now Grandma has Alzheimer's and can't remember how she made the cinnamon rolls. But I decided I should carry on this tradition and so went looking for the recipe.

A good family friend learned how to make these very cinnamon rolls from Grandma herself. She was kind enough to send me the recipe...which wasn't exact but sounded just like Grandma. So yesterday I decided to attempt the cinnamon rolls. Here we go.

The victims:
What you need: flour, sugar, oil, milk, water, eggs, rapid rise yeast, butter,  and cinnamon
My partner in crime:
I love you, KitchenAid mixer

1. Mix two cups milk with two cups water and heat in the microwave for two minutes.
2. While this is happening mix two eggs, one cup sugar, and one cup oil in a large bowl. (I used the wire whisk attachment and my KitchenAid bowl)
3. Add the milk/water mixture and mix well
4. Add 4-6 cups flour (I added 5 just to be safe) and 2 packs of the rapid rise yeast and mix well.

Things are going well at this point.

6. Continue to add flour and mix with a large spoon (I just switched to a different mixer attachment) and add until mixture is stiff and sticky. The recipe states it takes about 4 lbs of flour. (FYI: 2 cups=1lb) I think I put in 9 cups total before I decided the mixture was stiff and sticky. But then again, I didn't know what I was doing.
7. Dump out the dough onto the counter (flour it well!! or you will spend forever cleaning your counter like I did) and knead until "as smooth as a baby's butt." Well, I was elbow deep in dough before I realized that I've never kneaded a single thing in my life and I don't know how to knead.  But I did the best I could. Somehow my mixture never resembled a baby's butt...

Not very smooth.

8. Put dough back in the bowl and let it rise until double. At this point, I ran to the store because I realized I didn't have very much cinnamon left.
9. Once it has risen, take out the dough and split into four balls. Roll out each ball into a large rectangle. I repeat, flour the counter well or it will be very difficult to to roll up your rolls! Evenly rolling out the dough into a rectangle is important or else you will get different sized rolls like I did.
10. Spread softened butter onto your rectangle.

Look at that butter.

11. Sprinkle with your cinnamon sugar mixture: 1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar.


12. Roll it up. I finally got the hang of this by the third ball of dough. Seal up all the edges and the ends.

13. Cut into 1.5 inch slices and place onto a buttered pan or cookie sheet. I used round aluminum cake pans like Grandma did.

14. Punch down the rolls a bit so that they are all the same height. Cover and let rise until they are all touching, about an hour.
15. Throw em in the oven! 375 degrees for 12 minutes. I think I did mine for 14 minutes because I like to see a little browning on the top.

And now your house starts to smell yummy...
16. Take them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes while you make your icing.

17. The epic icing (the easiest part of the cinnamon rolls): 4 cups powdered sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 tsp almond extract. Whisk until smooth.
Mmmm...this is what makes the cinnamon rolls magical
18. Ice the cinnamon rolls while they are still really warm...so it gets all melty and absorbs into them a little bit.

19. Now sample one of your rolls. Or multiple, to make sure you got things right and to figure out how you would do things different next time. (Stop judging me, I ate baby carrots for lunch and then did a Jillian Michael's workout)

I was pretty skeptical. But the rolls were actually reminesent of Grandma's. The texture and flavors were there. I almost threw out the dough halfway through because I was frustrated with the consistency. But I'm glad I stuck it out.

Notes for next time:
1. Add a little more flour
2. Learn how to knead dough
3. Roll it out thinner and more evenly
4. Add more butter and more cinnamon/sugar mix
5. Try only baking for the recommended 12 minutes... which might give me more of the gooey texture that I remember

Thanks Cindy for the recipe! Cinnamon rolls=ultimate holiday goodness.

Some things I am thankful for today:
1. A great and easy weekend at work with the sweetest patients ever
2. That I found a new doc for the hubs and I
3. My awesome holiday work schedule: Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve only!
4. Rascal Flatts on the Today Show

Have a terrific Tuesday!

(PS I think that my current track "Who says you can't go home?" applies to this post as well! Cinnamon rolls=home.)

1 comment:

  1. whoa! those look amazing...why can't you live here lor?! i need those rolls now!