Homemade cinnamon rolls are wonderful to serve on weekends. Whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a late evening snack they will please your family and friends. This recipe is quick and easy. It uses simple ingredients that you usually have on hand.
According to historians sticky buns or cinnamon rolls are ancient and most likely originated in Northern Europe. The history of cinnamon is not clear. We know this highly valued spice was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. Among the early uses was to flavor wine and as an ingredient in incense. Medieval uses include adding the expensive spice to both sweet and savory dishes. One of the goals of the age of exploration was to find a quicker route to the East and the spices there.
Spicy sticky buns were made near Philadelphia in the 1680’s. The basis was probably the German snail yeast rolls. One of the earliest printed recipes was in a Good Housekeeping cookbook published in 1922. The earliest recipes always used a sweet yeast dough, later ones used baking powder.
The number of rolls this recipe makes depends on how thick they are cut. The recipe can be doubled.
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of lemon rind, grated
- 3 tablespoons of cold butter
- ¾ cup of cold milk
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon or more – for filling
- 1/3 cup of sugar, either white or brown – for filling
- ¼ cup or more of plumped raisins or other dried fruit – for filling
- Butter – for filling
Heat oven to 400 degrees F, 375 degrees F if using a glass baking dish. The rolls can be baked in either round or rectangular pans.
Mix the filling ingredients except the butter in a small bowl before beginning making the rolls. You can save any you have left for future use. It improves it to add a pinch of salt.
Put the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, sugar and lemon rind in a medium bowl. Blend with a fork. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender or two table knifes until the size of peas. Mix in the cold milk using a fork, mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and balls up on the fork.
Lightly flour a surface and toss the dough in the flour a few times. Pat or roll the dough out into a ½ inch thick rectangle. Spread the dough with soft butter, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough. Scatter the raisins over the sugar and cinnamon. Roll over it with a rolling pin to press the mixture into the dough. Beginning at the long side roll the dough into a log, roll tightly. Cut with a sharp knife or by using the string method into 1 inch thick slices. Place the slices cut side down in the pan or pans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Prepare an icing, if desired. Blend a tablespoon of butter with a drop or two of vanilla or lemon extract with enough powdered sugar to make a thin glaze or thicker icing. Glaze or ice while the rolls are warm, add more icing when they cool a bit. Or you can spread the rolls with butter, sugar and cinnamon before baking.
You can add an egg with the milk, use ½ cup of milk.
Almonds, walnuts or other nuts can be added to the filling and sprinkled on top before baking.
Orange rind can be used instead of lemon. Either is good.
The easiest filling is just sugar and cinnamon.
Nutmeg can be left out but I add it because German rolls and breads often add it and I like the flavor.
Some grated apple can be added to the filling.