Is there anything that smells better than cinnamon rolls baking in the oven? My mouth waters when the aromas are wafting through the house. These rolls are a cross between a traditional cinnamon roll and a sticky bun. I can never make my mind up which I prefer, so I decided to combine them! Yes, they are totally decadent – exactly what I enjoy making during the holidays.
The smell of baking cinnamon takes me back to my childhood when my grandmother used to make cinnamon rolls and twists for us. It was all I could do to keep from opening the oven to watch them bake. But I quickly learned that it would take twice as long if I opened the oven door and let out all the heat.
Of course Mimi made her dough from scratch – literally by hand. She never used a mixer, just a big bowl, a wooden spoon, and her strong right arm. She was amazing … I don’t think most of us could keep up with her today. Whenever I think I have it rough, all I have to do is think about what she did every day to keep her family healthy and well fed. She shopped twice a day, once for lunch items and again for dinner. Refrigeration was an old-fashioned cooler – a box with a hunk of ice in the back. While it was a huge forward step in food preservation, it wasn’t anywhere close to today’s technology.
She would make the dough from scratch, then we would shape it, and put it in the refrigerator overnight to rise. I always wound up with butter and cinnamon sugar up to my elbows and was given a bath to get me clean. Cinnamon got everywhere! In the morning we would bake them off and then have the most heavenly breakfast treats.
Most of us don’t have the time to make dough from scratch and wait for the multiple risings. Thank goodness there are alternatives available. My personal favorite is frozen puff pastry. You can find it in the freezer section of your grocery store. It is fabulous for quick pastries like these. I also use it for appetizers, to top bowls of soup, for an unusual pie crust and very crispy crackers.
Made with layer upon layer of butter-filled dough, it bakes up crispy and golden. If you want it to remain flat you will have to dock it – poke it all over with a fork or point of a knife, which helps retard the puffing action. You can use it for savory or sweet pastries, just change up the fillings and toppings.
If you think that cinnamon rolls aren’t complete without a drizzled frosting, you can whip up a quick cream cheese glaze in nothing flat. Combine 8 oz soft cream cheese, 4 tbsp softened butter, 2 cups sugar and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until smooth. Thin with a little milk if desired for a pouring consistency. Once you turn out the baked rolls, break them apart and top with the frosting.
I make these in a bundt pan, but you could make individual, single layer rolls in just about any greased pan with a solid bottom; a round cake pan, or even muffin tins. Pour some of the “sticky” part in the bottom, top with the rolled up and sliced cinnamon-filled dough, and bake. Invert them onto a baking sheet when they come out of the oven so they don’t stick to the pan.
If you love nuts, chop up extras and sprinkle them over the filling before rolling the dough up. Always use a sharp serrated knife to slice the dough into rings. I know you will fall in love with these quick, easy, and nearly foolproof sticky cinnamon rolls!!
Happy Holidays, one and all!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Unlike regular dough, frozen puff pastry doesn’t need rising time. You can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or on the countertop for about 30 minutes. If you want it thinner, roll out on a lightly floured work surface before shaping it. You can use it in place of a pie crust if you bake it first. Versatile and delicious, puff pastry is every bakers friend!
Kitchen Skill: How To Measure Brown Sugar
Because of the moisture content of brown sugar, you want to pack it into your measuring cups or spoons – all recipes are calibrated for this. Scoop brown sugar into cup and press down firmly. Add more sugar and pack it down. Continue until cup is full.
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Topping and Pastry
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (30 min at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator)
- 2 to 3 tbsp softened butter
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
- Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients; set aside.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan. Use 2 tbsp of the melted butter to thoroughly coat the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan (including the outside of the center tube) using a pastry brush. Sprinkle about half of the pecans in the bottom of the pan.
- Add sugar and water to the rest of the melted butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in remaining nuts; set aside.
- Roll out pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface until about 1/4-inch thick. Spread with softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle buttered area with the filling mixture. Brush the edges with the beaten egg. Starting with the long edge, roll up tightly. Pinch the edge closed to seal. With the seal-side down, using a very sharp knife, slice roll into 16 equal pieces. Carefully spread each piece open slightly.
- Arrange 8 of the pieces on top of the nuts in the pan, cut-side up. Spoon half of butter/brown sugar mixture over the dough. Top with remaining dough, off-setting them from the first layer. Spoon remaining brown sugar over the top.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let stand 2 to 4 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. If it is hard to get out of the pan, set back in the oven for a few minutes to soften caramel. Cut or break into 8 pieces and serve hot or warm.
- Yield: about 8 servings