Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hot Buns!


I consider myself pretty lucky to have a great relationship with my grandpa (my mom's dad) who has officially been around for 88 years now. When I lived in Illinois I had dinner with him every Monday. During my visits, he would tell me stories about the 'old times'. One night over dinner he told me what it was like growing up during the Great Depression. He used to head down to the railroad tracks after dinner and hang out with the hobos. I KNOW! can you believe it? Times sure have changed. I can't hardly believe it. He used to sit around a 'garbage can' camp fire and shoot the shit with men that were out of work and riding the rails. Amazing stuff. His mom would kiss him and send him off to hang out with the hobo's. Exactly! I can't believe it either, but times were different and people were more trusting evidently. These stories and memories are priceless to me.

For his birthday gift, I wanted to give the gift of history back to him so I decided to make his favorite thing from scratch: Cinnamon Rolls. They are one of his favorite things and I had never made them before, but was determined to figure it out. I woke up bright and early and got all of my ingredients out. My mom's best friend emerged as I was kneeding the dough before the first round of rising. "Always up to something." She comments. "Yep, I'm making the cinnamon rolls. I have never done this before. We'll see how it goes." I say. not wanting to get anyone's hopes up. "Well, the good thing is that you always look like you know what you're doing."

Huh, that's funny? Most of the time I feel like I have absolutley no idea what the hell I am doing. Kind of like a beached whale or a slippery fish flopping on the shore. I can't believe that people actually believe that I know what I am doing. I responded, "Fake it 'til you make it." Ooops, I sort of gave myself up just then didn't I?? Oh. well, now you know, I pretend to have a clue. I follow recipes (loosely), use road maps (occasionally), and accept all the help I can come up with. Sometimes I wander around lost and other times, things work out perfectly. Luckily for my grandpa, the Cinnamon Rolls turned out delicious. Everyone ate at least 3 and I got orders from all over to ship them. Sorry friends, we ate them all. If you want some, you will just have to invite me over. We'll see if I can fake my way through it again.

Cinnamon Hot Buns

Rolls:

2 cups milk
2 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1 /2 cup granulated sugar (you can also use splenda)
2 eggs
1 tbsp. salt
7 cups flour (you can use half whole wheat)

Syrup:

1 package light brown sugar (16 oz)
1/2 cup sugar free maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 butter
1 1/2 cup pecans; chopped

Filling:

1 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter; softened

For the rolls: Heat milk in the microwave for 2 minutes and set aside while you combine the yeast with the warm water. Let both the milk and yeast sit for 3 minutes. Yeast will become bubbly.

Meanwhile, combine the butter and sugar and cream together using a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and salt. Then add the yeast mixture and warm milk continuing to beat with the mixer.

Reduce mixer speed and add 3 cups of flour adding 1 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms. Continue to mix in the remaining cups of flour one cup at a time using a wooden spoon. Turn out dough to a floured surface and kneed for 5 minutes. Return to a clean bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray and coat the dough with the cooking spray. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours. The dough will double in size.

For the syrup: Combine the syrup ingredients in a large sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the brown sugar has melted and the syrup is smooth. Do not allow to boil. Set aside once the desired consistency has been reached.

To assemble: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling in a small dish. Coat the bottom of two large rectangle cake baking pans with cooking spray. Pour 5 tbsp. syrup on the bottom of each pan and sprinkle each with the pecan peices. Kneed the dough 2 or 3 times and divide into 4 peices. Keep each peice covered until used. Take one piece of dough and roll out into a 1/2 inch rectangle. Spread the top with butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar filling mixture. Pour 5 tbsp. of syrup covering the top of the dough. Roll up jelly roll style and slice into 4 inch segments. Place each of the rolls in the baking pan leaving at least one inch in between each roll. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover the rolls and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes then peel them out of the pan and eat them standing right over the oven with a mug of fresh brewed coffee (or milk for the kids).

This will make tons so you can share with friends and neighbors if you like, or save them all for yourself! They are sure to put a smile on your face.

Mental Health Benefit: Okay, so these aren't exactly low fat, calorie concious, or low sugar. But, you know what? They are absolutley delicious and worth every calorie rich decadent bite. Every once and a while it's okay to dive off the deep end and into the rich deep tapestry that our history is filled with. And when you need to take a nap; go ahead and do it. My grandpa and his brother graciously demonstrated the 'art of napping' in this photo.

Hoping you rich and gooey memories from my grandpa's kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

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