I feel like I blinked and it’s already the Holiday season! How does this happen?! Last week we had SO much going on I honestly don’t know how we survived…..from putting up all of our decorations (I wish I had an army of little elves that magically came in the night to decorate for me) to the Holiday video shoot, to my son’s birthday celebration, to family Christmas card photos, to the turkey trot race….. I feel like I went to a fire hydrant for a drink of water!! Whew!
Speaking of insane weeks, I realized yesterday I had to come up with some kind of dish representing Denmark for my son’s 4th grade Ancestor Celebration! And it’s one of those events where I just CAN’T show up with some store-bought danish pastry I obviously thought of five minutes before arriving!
Hmmmm………………..I’ve got it!!!
Cinnamon Rolls — but with a twist (literally)!
One of my favorite recipes of all time is my Cinnamon Roll recipe! I want to share it because I feel like cinnamon rolls go with any and all celebrations and events! These Cinnamon Rolls are basically a “baking neutral”, because all you need is the base roll recipe, and you can create whatever filling and design you desire (I love doing raspberry cream cheese, orange marmalade, or cinnamon pecan!)
I spent 3 days at a ranch in Idaho last week. The chef and I got talking about our favorite recipes and she turned me on to Sally’s Baking Addiction! She’s so creative I decided to incorporate my personal Cinnamon Roll recipe with her adorable wreath twist idea and show you how it’s done!
Let us begin!
Cinnamon Roll Dough
4 cups warm (almost hot) water
1 cube butter
1 cup granulated sugar
10 cups flour
4 tablespoons yeast ( I recommend SAF!)
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup dry milk
5 teaspoons salt
Cinnamon Roll Filling
2 cups brown sugar
5 tablespoons cinnamon ( I highly recommend saigon cinnamon)
2/3 cup butter – almost melted
Pecans – chopped (if desired)
Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature (ok… if you HAVE to use the 1/3 less fat I guess you can, but I can’t let you use the fat free — it looks like rubber!)
4 – 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract – optional (I love a slight taste of almond)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Place warm water in bottom of mixer. Add yeast and sprinkle with a little sugar to activate (approx. 1 tsp) For your mixer, I think Bosch is by far the best mixer for baking! I bake bread all the time, and I have burned out motors in other brands, but my Bosch has lasted forever!
- After yeast looks “soft”, add and mix ingredients in the following order: granulated sugar, melted butter and shortening, 4 cups flour mixed with 5 teaspoons salt — Mix together well
- Add 1 generous cup of dry milk (Country Fresh) and 2 eggs — Mix together well
- Add 4 more cups of flour and mix until smooth
- Add 3 more cups of flour and mix 5 minutes (If you are not using a Bosch you will want to use a dough hook for this kneading process) Dough will be soft
- Allow to rise until it doubles in size (about 45-60 minutes)
- Punch down and divide dough either in half for two large wreaths, or in thirds for 3 smaller wreaths
- Roll dough into large rectangle
- For the filling: Spread softened butter all over the dough. Don’t skimp! In a small bowl toss brown sugar and cinnamon together until combined and sprinkle all over dough. (Be sure not to miss the edges!) Add chopped pecans if desired.
- Roll up tightly jelly-roll style
- Carefully transfer the whole thing onto a greased pizza pan (I like the one that has small holes as to eliminate the soggy-bottom cinnamon roll)
- Now here’s THE TRICK – with sharp kitchen scissors cut 3/4 of the way through the dough in approximately 1 – 1 and 1/2 inch slices (any thicker than that and the whole thing puffs up too much) You want the wreath to remain connected
- Arrange the entire roll into a circle. It is helpful to form the wreath around a heat-proof something. It makes it easier to shape and it helps it keep its shape! I used a large ramekin
- Slightly twist each cinnamon roll as to lay at a slight angle
- Allow to rise 1 more time for about 60 minutes or so
- Bake at 350 degrees (I have Viking oven and use the TruConvection setting) for approximately 12 minutes (ovens vary so remove when rolls are lightly golden brown)
- Make the Icing: In a medium bowl using a handheld mixer or stand mixer using paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat on low speed for approximately 30 seconds to incorporate the sugar and then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
- While still warm, drizzle wreath with cream cheese icing. Garnish with whatever “yummies” you like. I used cranberries, but you can use raspberries, raisins, nuts, toffee bits……. so many options : )
Now for the fun part!
Place entire wreath on a festive platter in the center of your table and let everyone have at it!!! Think of it as a monkey-bread concept — tear off and serve yourself! Laugh, stuff your face….. have fun breaking bread together!