Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Pioneer Woman's best cinnamon rolls ever

...because this is the only one you'll ever need!  I've had it bookmarked for ages, finally made them this past weekend, and teased about the cinnamon rolls yesterday.  Today I'll share the glory that is Pioneer Woman's famous cinnamon rolls.  Warm, fluffy, buttery, frosted gems that they are.  (Looking at these pictures makes me want to kick myself that I didn't make more.  Sad face.)

One of the biggest perks about being a food blogger is becoming part of a community of very passionate and honest kitchen fanatics.  When a recipe is good, it's written about in great detail, accompanied by pictures and suggestions to try it yourself.  On the other hand, when a recipe is not so good, no one hesitates to give reasons why and possibly a few fixes so you don't make the same mistakes and waste perfectly good ingredients.  It's like having (hundreds!) of helpful cooks with all kinds of experience perched on your shoulder at all times.  Invaluable! :)

And then there is a third scenario.  When a recipe is so unbelievably good that it's referenced near and far.  On blogs everywhere.  By both baking and health food enthusiasts (who've happily waved a white flag for these babies).

Enter the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls.  I'm a firm believer in asking a cook or baker what she does best.  It's always served me well at restaurants because the wait staff knows what's a hit with customers and what's not.  Same goes with home kitchens.  If someone is so confident in her, say, banana muffins, that she'd proclaim they are the best of their kind, I'd be much more likely to try them.  And so goes the story with these cinnamon rolls.  Ree proclaims that she'd enter these in any contest and they'd win.  Confidence is just so attractive delicious!

The process takes some time, but it's so easy -- no mixer needed.  And it's made even more convenient by breaking up the process with an overnight vacation in the fridge for the dough.  What humbly starts as a doughy mass of flour, oil, milk, and leavening...

...is transformed, with the addition of some elbow grease and more butter... She says "When you think you've added enough butter, add even more."  Sounds like Paula Dean, no?  Love her even more!  Fat free they are not.

...into a plateau of dough smeared with enough cinnamon and sugar to give send you into a diabetic coma just looking at it.  Seriously.  If not, you've done something wrong :)

Roll, roll, roll until there is a metaphorical mile of cinnamon rolls in front of you.

With the sharpest knife in your stash (this is my cutlery of choice), slice 'em up and arrange them in the cake pans.  Allow them to get cozy and rise for a bit and then pop popping them into the oven to fill the house with the sweet aroma of cinnamon and awaken even the deepest sleepers.  Don't be alarmed if they are still half asleep when they stumble into the kitchen following the smell.

Once golden brown, remove and cool for a few minutes.  Then drown them in maple frosting.  Be sure to get the edges so every inch of the rolls are coated!

Oh sweet heavenly cinnamon rolls.  Go ahead, you can sample one before serving everyone else.  After all, you "slaved" away in the kitchen.  You deserve it!

What's that noise?  The "mmm"ing and sighing and patting of your (possibly expanding) belly?  Those are the sounds of contentment.  The sounds of victory.  The sounds of your family and friends lining up to request when you will make these again.  Go ahead, share the love!

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls
(adapted from here)
-makes 26

A few notes: I halved the original recipe because, well, I didn't think I'd need 50+ cinnamon rolls... (Note: I was wrong).  Also, while the chilling step isn't absolutely necessary, I would highly recommend it.  The chilled dough is MUCH easier to work with than the originally very sticky dough.  Plus, you can cut out steps to do in the morning when you're half asleep and still in your pajamas and robe.  Finally, for instructions regarding when you can freeze the rolls for later baking and consumption, check out Ree's tips here.

2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar, separated
1 package active dry yeast (0.25 ounce packets)
4 cups + 1/2 cup extra, separated, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
1/2 Tablespoon (heaping) salt
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
Lots of ground cinnamon

Maple Frosting:
1 one-pound bag powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons brewed coffee
Pinch salt

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and 1/2 cup sugar in a large saucepan.  Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point).  Turn off heat and leave to cool until a candy thermometer reads between 130 and 140 degrees F (around 45 minutes).  When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in package of yeast and let this sit for 1 minute.  Then add 4 cups of flour.  Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir mixture together.  Allow to rise, covered with a kitchen towel, for one hour.  [At this point, I put the dough in a large mixing bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray.  I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and stored it in the fridge overnight to rise... and it did, slowly and beautifully, ready to be rolled in the morning.  You could keep it in for up to two days.  If the dough begins to overflow, just punch it down.]

When ready to prepare rolls, sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle.  Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape.   (My rectangle was about 12 inches deep by almost 2 feet wide, around 3/8 to 1/4-inch thick.)  Drizzle melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a very generous (use more than I did!) sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you.  Keep the roll relatively tight as you go.  Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Coat 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray.  (You'll need 3 total for this version of the recipe.)  Then begin cutting the rolls approximately 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.  Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes in a warm place (I used the stove-top), then bake at 375 degrees F until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, for the frosting, whisk together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth.  It should be thick but pourable.  (Add more milk if needed to think out frosting, or more sugar to thicken until desired consistency is reached.)  Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.  Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

Store at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.  Warm in microwave for a few seconds to achieve almost-fresh-out-of-the-oven quality :)


  1. I've heard so many raves about these cinnamon rolls and looking at your pictures justifies them totally. I hope you'll come by and link them up to Sweets for a Saturday #11. http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweets-for-saturday-11.html

  2. So yummy!! I halved your halved version of this recipe and it came out well! BUT I think I used a bit too much butter and sugar in the step before rolling..it was hard to handle, too wet, and....wait for it...actually came out TOO sweet. All in all, delicious. But I will make them less sweet next time.

  3. Cinnamon rolls are my favourite thing ever! Thanks for this recipe, they look divine!