It looks like I brought the Manhattan rain with me back to California – it’s mid May, but outside the clouds are crying. All the tank tops and sun dresses I packed are no match for the cold winds and wet puddles. My heart yearns for sunshine and happiness, but all I’m seeing is gloom. I thought coming home to California would ensure that, mais non. Being away from my family for extended periods means that I sometimes lose touch with the ins and outs of the household. I forget how certain things operate, what everyone’s schedules are like, miss out on certain events, and feel slightly extraterrestrial within my own family. In addition, being absent means I can’t help out around the house as much as I’d like – I can’t drive my sister around, or cook dinner for my parents. I can’t sweep and mop the floors regularly, or feed the puppies. I can’t run errands to free up some time so my parents have a bit of a break – I can’t witness the growth and maturity of my little sister. It’s sad really, and sometimes makes me feel a bit selfish for having moved so far. I hate this trade off game.
And now that I am home, I obviously can’t make up for time loss, but I can pick up the slack and fill in where I can while I’m here. And during my break from chores and errands, here’s a treat. The BEST cinnamon roll recipe ever – you’ll/I’ll never need another one ever again. During finals, I made 2 batches that I know Bonnie and Beans thoroughly enjoyed (are there even any left in my NYC kitchen?). The final cinnamon roll has this beautiful almost croissant-like crust (all that butter!), and a tender and moist interior. I’ve had to make this recipe a few times before I perfected it – I did all the hard work, so now you get to enjoy. It’s a simple recipe, and can be easily done by hand. They smell amaaazing when baking!
Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever
Adapted from Pioneer Women. Please visit for more photos and picture tutorial.
2 c milk
1/2 c oil
1/2 c sugar
1 .25 oz package of active dry yeast
4 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 c Sugar
In a large microwaveable bowl (or in a sauce pan), warm the milk, oil and sugar. Remove from heat and allow to let cool until warm. Dissolve in active dry yeast and allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. The foam will also be accompanied be the unmistakable smell of beer (for those who need an olfactory clue as well). Slowly add 4 cups of flour, incorporating the flour with a large spoon/spatula or clean hands. The mixture should eventually ball together. Cover with plastic or a damp towel, and set in warm place (I like to use my microwave). Allow to rise until double in size, or at least an hour (though time will vary).
Once doubled in size, add baking soda, baking powder, salt and scant half cup of flour and mix to combine and deflate the dough. Generously flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out onto the surface and flatten the dough thin to form an approximate rectangle (mine usually comes out about 16″ x 12″). While you roll, constantly flip the dough over and flour the surface – sticky dough is no fun to work with. Once you’ve rolled out the dough, brush the melted butter evenly over the dough, making sure to get the edges. Don’t skimp on the butter, but don’t cause a flood either. You should still a tablespoon or so left over to brush the tops with. Sprinkle dough with a cup of sugar and coat with cinnamon. Starting from the length (longer edge), roll the dough in a neat/tight line away from you. The ends may ooze butter, but not to worry. Pinch the final seam to seal the roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolls ¾” to 1″ thick and laying them in the pre-buttered pans. You can space them out so they can spread optimally (and yield beautifully fluffy and round rolls), or cram them all in so they can compete for space (and create less fluffy and ‘creatively shaped’ rolls). I tend to do the latter just because (1) I am lazy (2) don’t have enough pans. Allow the rolls to rest in the pan for >30 minutes. Brush the rolls with the leftover melted butter, and lightly dust with additional cinnamon and sugar.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400*F. Bake the rolls until golden brown, or just shy of 25 minutes (really depends on your oven, so watch it!). Remove from oven and frost with your favorite icing (cream cheese being my favorite), or enjoy as is.
If you are feeling creative/different-minded, I sometimes put the additional rolls that didn’t fit in my baking pan into a cupcake tin. They make cute little cinnamon rolls that are just as delicious. These “cupcakes” do bake a lot faster, so keep a vigilant watch over them.
I guess when it comes down to it – I can’t really apologize or feel bad about having left home. Sure, the family unit operates a bit smoother with another person to help out. But even without me, life still goes on. My sister is maturing and growing up to be a beautiful young woman, and my parents have to hustle just a bit harder to get their work done. But they are juggling everything just fine. And besides, they worked so hard to get me to this point in my life – I can’t disappoint them now.