Several years ago I baked cinnamon rolls in one of my favorite fall ceramic dishes from Touche`.  On a whim, I did an Instagram post asking our followers what they would bake or serve in this particular dish.  A random winner would receive a dozen cinnamon rolls baked by yours truly. I'm not sure home-baked rolls were okay to promote, they certainly wouldn't be in our world today, but in the innocence of 2016 I threw it out there! 

Comments included Mac & Cheese, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Pie and many others. The cinnamon roll winner was Elena Davis, someone I knew nothing about, except her "pumpkin anything" answer spoke to me!  One week later, I gave her a dozen cinnamon rolls complete with cream cheese frosting.  My rolls were presented on one of my well-used cookie sheets, with instructions to return the pan to the store in the next couple of weeks.  The cinnamon rolls received higher marks than the presentation, but that wasn't difficult!  I'm sure Martha Steward would have given me a failing grade, no excuses or apologies here!

Little did I know that Elena was an AMAZING cook on her own!  When you present a stranger with homemade cinnamon rolls, it's best to make sure they're not a baker themselves.  Regardless, Elena could NOT have been more gracious, and it literally was friends at first bite.  She was a fellow foodie and we bonded immediately.

Since then, Elena has since gone on to start her own food blog @MamaMiaMangia. She's a regular on Studio 5 and Good Things Utah, will be teaching at Orson Gygi's cooking school, and is a recognized expert for her original and shared Italian family recipes. 

Cinnamon Rolls

3 C. warm milk (or water + ½ C. powdered milk)
3 T. instant yeast
3 eggs - room temperature (put in bowl of hot water to warm cold eggs)
3/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. melted butter
¼ C. oil
1T. Salt

3T. dough enhancer (optional, but I like to use it)
9 C. flour (approximately)

Dissolve yeast in liquid.  Add 2 C. flour and mix well. Add eggs, sugar, butter, and oil and mix well. Add flour one cup at a time. Add salt and dough enhancer after cup of flour #6.  Knead in a stand-mixer or by hand for six minutes.

Let dough rise for about one hour. Divide dough in half and roll each section into a rectangle, approximately 12" x 18".  (I spray my rolling mat with vegetable spray as sprinkling flour on your board or mat dries the dough out.) Spread generously with cinnamon mixture (1 cube softened BUTTER, ¾ C. brown sugar, and 1-2 T. cinnamon combined.) Roll like a jelly roll and pinch seam together.  Cut into 1” slices and place on a greased baking sheet (I use parchment paper instead, it can be purchased at your store's bakery.)  Let rise an additional 45 minutes (approximately.)  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.  Frost when slightly warm with cream cheese frosting. 

***Makes 24 large rolls or 36 medium

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese - softened
1 cube butter - room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 - 4 C. Powdered Sugar

 

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add other ingredients and beat well.  Store leftover frosting in fridge - if there is any!

*Add chopped nuts or raisins if desired before rolling cinnamon rolls.