Extra Cinnamony Cinnamon Rolls

I am always looking for ways to improve my cinnamon roll game, and I think I have finally created cinnamon roll perfection. Go figure there is a secret ingredient that’s a smidge unusual…TEA! Yep! Instead of using plain water or milk as some recipes call for I went the extra mile and infused rich cinnamon flavor into the dough. I used Cinnamon Hearts Pu’erh from Steeped Tea, it’s a warm black tea with cinnamon and cassia and is probably the most cinnamony tea I have ever had the pleasure to drink, I love a warm cup of tea on a cool day with a splash of milk and a spoonful of honey so it seemed ideal for this recipe. It smells like a cinnamon roll even before it becomes a cinnamon roll and I think I’m in love…not only with these rolls but with the endless possibilities of tea flavors that could be used! Here is the recipe and I hope you give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

EXTRA CINNAMONY CINNAMON ROLLS:

1 package active dry yeast, dissolved in warm water according to product directions

3 cups flour, plus more for kneading

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup melted butter

1 tsp salt

1 egg lightly beaten

1 cup warm not hot steeped cinnamon tea (I got mine here)

a splash of milk if desired

 

For Filling:

1 stick softened butter

½ cup or more cinnamon sugar

½ cup brown sugar

 

For Frosting:

1 stick softened butter

¼ cup cold cinnamon tea

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients with mixer and set aside.

Start by dissolving yeast packet in water according to the directions on the packet. While the yeast is doing its thing, in a medium sized bowl, add 3 cups flour, & salt. To this add the maple syrup, melted butter, egg, and warm tea *Note: Do NOT use hot tea, hot liquids will scorch the yeast and render it useless, allow the tea to cool until warm before adding it to the recipe.

Add dissolved yeast and stir until a nice dough is formed. Depending on the day you may find that you need to add more flour or more tea/milk. I find that humidity plays a huge roll in bread making.

Dump dough out onto floured surface sprinkle with flour and knead until the dough is no longer tacky and is smooth.

Grease the bowl the dough was mixed in with oil and place the dough in the bowl to rise in a warm place.

When dough has doubled in size turn out onto floured surface sprinkle with flour and knead once more adding flour until no longer tacky. With a rolling pin, roll dough flat.

Spread softened butter onto flattened dough with the back of a spoon, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar, then sprinkle with brown sugar.

Starting at one end, begin rolling the dough into a log. From here you can cut the roll into a log the length of a loaf pan to make a cinnamon loaf, or cut into1 ½ inch disks and arrange in your favorite pan.

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 25-35 min depending on the pan you choose, watch them closely.

Allow cinnamon rolls to cool, then frost and serve!

Roll out the dough
Spread surface with butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over the top
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar
Roll it up and cut into loaves for cinnamon swirl bread, Allow to rise a second time.
Or cut into 1 1/2 inch disks for cinnamon rolls, and allow to rise again.
Cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven

How To Make Brown Sugar

I want to share a little “kitchen hack” with you that will hopefully save you some swearing and a trip to the store! According to my husband we are always out of brown sugar. Lets be clear, he never bakes. I only hear this when he’s getting ready to put something in the smoker. For instance, last week he smoked two pork butts and thankfully we had brown sugar when he needed to make his rub so all was right with the world. When I started making a double batch of my famous “Mrs. Yoder’s Cookies” yesterday guess what…the brown sugar canister was empty. Most people would probably jump in the car and run to the store. Not me. I have everything I need to make brown sugar right in my pantry.

I’m sure some of you probably already know this, but for those who don’t: Sugar + Molasses = Brown Sugar

Yep. Two ingredients, that’s it! Plus you can make it in a snap in any quantity you desire. I typically like to make enough to fill up my little brown sugar canister

Brown Sugar:

  • 3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses of Your Choice
  • Medium Sized Bowl
  • Whisk

Keep in mind this is one recipe you just sort of eyeball. You can start with a ½ cup of molasses, but you may find you need to add more depending on your preferences.

Place both ingredients in the bowl and whisk until no molasses blobs remain. Use immediately or store in an air tight container. I like to keep a nice clay disk in my brown sugar to keep it from turning into a sugar brick, but that is optional.

Combine sugar and molasses
Whisk the sugar and Molasses together
Scoop homemade brown sugar into your canister or use immediately!

Five Tips For Simpler Holidays

It is the season of excess, but it doesn’t have to mean excess stress! Here are 5 things I have started doing to make my life (and the lives of those who live with me) easier around the holidays. Plus our recipe for crock pot hot chocolate, which is sure to become a holiday favorite with your family, too!

apple pie_1
Apple pie

1. Make pie dough ahead of time, when you actually have time to do it. I like to make four batches of pie dough, shape them into balls, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them in a freezer bag until I need them. Just get them out to thaw in the fridge the night before you need to bake a pie. They are ready to be rolled, filled, and baked, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up extra dishes.  Another thing you can do to eliminate pie pressure during the holidays is to can your own pie filling during the season; then all you have to do is dump it in and bake it according to your recipes directions.

pie filling dough
Pie filling and frozen pie dough

2. Homemade gifts. You, sir or ma’am, have worked your tail off this year preserving the finest fruit, vegetables, meats, and herbs from your homestead. Why not share the bounty? In the process, you will showcase all of your hard work. I personally love a homemade gift, especially if I can eat it. Think about it — not everyone gets to have homemade apple sauce, preserves, peaches, spaghetti sauce, or canned green beans just like Granny used to make. I also like to attach recipes to my jars; for instance, if I send someone a can of beef, I like to share my recipe for crock-pot vegetable beef soup. If I give a jar of apple pie filling, it’s nice to give them the recipe for crumble topping for an easy apple crisp. Maple syrup, honey, and even eggs make lovely gifts, too. Your life is already abundant — share it!

cookie dough_1
Frozen cookie dough

3. Make double batches of cookies. You’re already making a mess; why not go the extra mile? If you make cookies occasionally throughout the year, you may want to consider doubling the batch. I like to make double batches when I make any kind of drop cookie or cookie you roll into a ball. I bake one batch, and the second batch I scoop with a medium sized melon baller onto a lined baking sheet and pop into the freezer. Peanut butter or molasses cookies can be rolled into balls and rolled in sugar before placing on the sheet to be frozen. I then put the frozen cookie dough into freezer bags with the type of cookie, bake temp, and time written on it. If you have an unexpected party (or one you forgot), you can bake up a batch of homemade cookies quicker than quick, and you wont have any mess to contend with other than the cookie sheet! They also make great gifts around the holidays when people get lots of goodies. Frozen cookie dough allows folks to enjoy your treats well after the sugar surge of the holidays is over.

4. Chop peel and prepare … check! One thing I have found that eliminates stress at crunch time is to have all of the little things taken care of. The night before, I chop and peel my veggies. While that seems pretty straightforward, it is a time saver. As I go along, I check things off of the list I have created to make sure I don’t forget anything. I also like to measure all my spices and other dry ingredients for each dish and combine in small glass bowls. All I have to do is grab a bowl and dump it in as I go.

5. Simplify. Do we really need to have three meats? Six different kinds of pie? Maybe settle on brunch this year! And don’t let your guests slack off, either; have them bring one of their favorite dishes. Since we will be running around trying to hit every Christmas party like crazy people in the time leading up to Christmas, our plan for Christmas Day consists of waking up, watching our boys open their gifts, sipping some coffee, and enjoying a potluck brunch with our family (and maybe some mimosas!), all from the comfort of our cozy flannel jammies! This means that there will be a crock pot full of our most favorite winter time treat … crock pot hot chocolate!!

Here is the recipe. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do.

Crock Pot Hot Chocolate

Cook time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

• 1-1/2 quarts whole milk (if you have your own it’s even better!)
• 12 oz. whipping cream
• 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below, or use canned)
• Vanilla to taste (I never ever measure vanilla)
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup milk chocolate chips
• Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Instructions:

1. Turn crock pot on low and combine whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk. Add vanilla and chocolate chips, stir in whole milk.

2. Place the lid on and let cook for 2 hours, stir with whisk occasionally, until all chocolate is melted.

3. Ladle into mugs and enjoy with a marshmallow or a shot of whipped cream! This stuff is dessert in and of itself!

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk:

Yield: 2 cups

• 1 cup whole milk
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1/3 cup boiling water
• pinch of salt

1. Mix all ingredients in a medium pan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir constantly with whisk.

Jake with a mug