Sunday, January 3, 2021

Cinnamon Rolls, V.1 Alpha Release

 Decided to try my hand at a batch of cinnamon rolls, something I've been threatening to do for a year or so. Found an easy recipe over at the King Arthur Flower site, and set about gathering the ingredients. Almost said "chemicals" there, but hey, baking is Applied Chemistry, isn't it?

Mixed everything up, and let the dough rise.

Mistake #1 - didn't turn out the dough and grease the bowl before letting it rise in said bowl. Wasn't a huge mistake, but made it "interesting" to get it all out so I could then roll it out and butter it up.

Then cover it with brown sugar and cinnamon powder.

Getting it rolled up, and sliced into approximately equal sections, was a Charlie Foxtrot, but Sweet Little Wife helped me out, and we eventually got to here after allowing the rolls to rise about 45 minutes.

While they were rising again, I mixed up the ingredients for the cream-cheese icing.

Mistake #2 - grabbed the wrong measuring spoon, and added twice the amount of vanilla that was called for. OOOPS!

After baking for what was deemed an appropriate amount of time, at an appropriate temperature as adjusted for the altitude, we we rewarded with these.


Mistake #3 - picked the wrong combination of time and temperature. I made adjustments to the time and temp based on published guidelines for adjusting your recipes to a 5000' altitude, and my bread baking, which confirmed the guidelines.

In short, you increase the temperature and decrease the time to avoid drying out your bread.

Guess what? This ain't bread. It's pastry dough, and bakes differently than just a straight yeast bread does. The extra butter and eggs change the chemicals enough to make the reaction go in an unexpected way. In this case, while the outside 2/3 of the roll is completely cooked, the inside 1/3 "core" of the roll isn't fully cooked. It never developed into the nice, light, almost flaky crust a Good Cinnamon Roll has through-and-through. They're not raw, just not fully cooked, and a bit doughy. They taste pretty good otherwise, although the icing has a bit too much vanilla for my taste.

Next time I'll make sure to use the recommended 400* oven, and let the time run the full 15 minutes. We took the pan out once to inspect the bottom, and it looked like the sugar was caramelizing nicely, but we just flat took it out too early, based on the rolls looking "Golden Brown". The higher temp got the outsides done just fine, but the shorter time didn't allow the heat to fully penetrate the denser dough and completely cook it.


  1. Still, congratulations! In this case even the mistakes are edible. :-)
    A blessed New year to you all!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I must be getting better, as I have an understanding of exactly why things went a bit sideways!

  2. Replies
    1. Yeah, I'd forgotten I let it rise in a separate greased bowl from the mixing bowl. And Mistake #4 was not carefully watching the amount of liquid I add. I think I was about 1/4c too much, and had to add about 1/3c of flour to get it to act like a ball of dough. Some things have to be adjusted to altitude, and somethings don't, as I'm finding out. I print the recipe out before I start, and write down the changes in amounts, times, temps, and "other" on the print out. Tuning your recipe is somewhat like sighting in a new scope. I'm solidly on the paper, and just have a click or two more to get it dialed in.

  3. If you ever decide to add raisins, soak them in hot water and drain them. That will make them nice and soft.

    And pecans are far better than walnuts.

    Also, get yourself a good heavy stoneware mixing bowl, around 14-16" in diameter. While you're mixing/kneading your dough, whether pastry or bread, pour hot water into the bowl and pre-warm it. Then dry it out and smear the inside with shortening.

    Take the dough out of the mixing bowl, ball it up by rolling it in the pre-greased bowl, then cover the top with a damp tea towel.

    This will improve your rise and product overall. It's an oooold trick. But it works.

    Using one of those silicon baking mats to roll out your dough on will make the dough release better, plus you can see the size you need for pie dough (bottom is usually 1" wider than a top piece, 9" pie shell takes a 10" bottom..)

    And... a cold or cool marble or wood rolling pin. It really helps for doing pastry work.

    Of course, flouring the snot out of everything helps, too.

    As to cinammon rolls? I use a cupcake pan and cook the rolls in their individual cups, then pull them out and then glaze them.

    And for a little festive flare, make your cinammon rolls into a Swedish Tea Ring, which is... cinammon rolls not quite cut off the roll.

    Good job.

    And, yes, pastry is harder than bread. Not much harder once you get the knack...

    1. I always grease the rising bowl when I make bread, but I just spaced-out on it. Guess I thought all the BUTTER! in the dough would help....NOT. We have the silicone mats, but the ones we have aren't big enough to roll out this much dough. And I have to work out how to roll it back up after I do the layer of sugar/cinnamon.

      Clever trick with the cupcake pan, but these rolls are just too big. They came out about the size of my fist, and just wouldn't have fit.

      V.2 should be much better!

    2. Lay parchment paper on your mat and use it to roll the roll. Or go old school and use a floured tea towel to roll your dough on.

      Either way allows you to roll the roll easily.

      Use some melted butter on the edge to help seal the dough to itself.

  4. An instant after reading about the cutting problems, my brain coughed up a rather fully detailed plan on using the pastry scraper in a scaled down guillotine.
    I worry me sometimes.

    Shy of ending up with Carbonite rolls, almost every non-fatal cooking error can be rectified by changing the name of what you are baking.

    I bet they were tasty.

    1. I started off trying to cut them with dental floss. Works quite well, but I didn't roll up the dough tight enough, and it kept unrolling as I tried to "garrote" the rolls. Sweet Little Wife helped getting them cut and then tightening up the rolls when she put them in the baking pan. A little guillotine would be cool. "Let Them Eat Cake!" could be shouted with each slice, maybe?

      They taste OK, except for the center being undercooked, and the icing having a bit too much vanilla....

    2. And knitting a pot holder would be required.

    3. Took me a few minutes to get that one!

      The rest of the rolls went in the trash at Sweet Little Wife's request. These are BIG rolls, and she calculated out they're somewhere around EIGHT HUNDRED Calories each, something neither of us needs.

  5. Baking at higher altitudes can be a challenge. My mother liked to make our bread and would do some creative muttering when we lived at 9,000' (East Portal, Moffat Tunnel).

  6. I've pretty much got good old bread nailed. least until I go to make it the next time, and I'm sure I'll forget/screw up something.

    They have a good story at the store on the summit of Pikes Peak about how radically they had to adjust their recipes to get them to work at 14,000'!

  7. They at least looked good. Baking at altitude seems to be a real challenge. Baking at 14,000 feet must really be a hoot.

    You'll get it in the next time or two.

    1. They tasted OK until you got down to the undercooked middle, and then....not so good.

      It gets easier once you understand why the altitude adjustments were made they way they were. The next thing you need to understand is how different doughs and batters respond, which is where I'm at now.

      "Bread" I've got nailed. "Pastry", not so much.....yet!

  8. Sigh, now I want cinnamon rolls... I miss Cinnabon...they don't have one out here.

    1. We've had Cinnabon branded ones from Costco or the grocery store, forget which, and they were pretty good. Much better than frozen vs "live" White Castles are.

      Just looked on the googly map, and we now now have a Cinnabon here!


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