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Cinnamon Rolls

The women of Slovenia are known for their baking skills. And when Slovenian friends and family gather around the Thanksgiving holiday table, you can bet your top tolar that sharing the sideboard with turkey and several rolls of potica, the signature nut roll of the country, will be a big pan of sweet and sticky cinnamon rolls.

If you are the invited guest this Thanksgiving and you want to bring something to share for the table, give these a go, making the rolls in advance in your leisure time. Bake them in disposable aluminum foil pans, cool and freeze in the pan, tightly covered with aluminum foil. Remove from the freezer right before you jump in the car. Then, just before serving, warm the rolls and top with a confectioners' sugar icing that you've made in advance and carried along in a covered container. Even though you may not be Slovenian, try to resist the urge to polka. -- Marlene Parrish, PG staff writer

For the dough:

1/3 cup water, warm
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk, warm
2 large eggs, warmed in a bowl of water.
1/2 cup butter, softened, or melted and cooled
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for the board
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Grated zest of one large orange
Melted butter, about 3 tablespoons
For the icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or maple flavoring
Few drops orange juice or milk

Rinse a large bowl under hot water to warm it, and dry. Place the 1/3 cup warm water in the warmed bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the sugar over the yeast. Allow the yeast mixture to soften and bubble for a few minutes.

Add the remaining sugar, warm milk and eggs to the yeast mixture. Beat on low speed with electric mixer to combine. Add the butter, continuing to beat just to combine.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and the salt to the yeast-eggs mixture and beat with the electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed. Remove and clean the beaters.

Stir in the remaining flour by hand. The dough will be sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead briefly about 1 minute, using up to 1/3 cup additional flour. Return the dough to a large clean, greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

While the dough rises, make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Set aside.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Roll one portion of the dough into a rectangle about 10-by 12-inches. Smear with half the butter. Scatter the surface with cinnamon-orange sugar, about 6 tablespoons or as much as you like. Roll up the rectangle along the 10-inch side, like a jelly roll. Seal the edge by pressing the dough together. Cut the roll into 9 slices, about 1-inch thick. Place slices in an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Repeat with the other portion of the dough. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are puffy and almost double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20 minutes or until buns are golden brown and smell wonderful. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and turn out onto a rack to finish cooling (I usually don't bother removing the rolls from the pan if I'm going to freeze them. Makes 2 pans, 18 rolls total. Before serving, drizzle or spread with confectioners' sugar icing.

To make the icing: In a large soup plate, pour about 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla or maple flavoring, about 1/2 teaspoon. Stirring with a kitchen fork, add just enough orange juice or milk to make a spreadable mixture. If you like it thin, swirl the icing onto the rolls using the tines of a fork. If you like a thick topping, use less liquid and ice the rolls using a knife to spread it.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

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