My mom loved to bake—and her cinnamon rolls are baked into my memory. She served them every holiday morning. She made them when family came to visit and she made them frequently, “just because.” Now, I want cinnamon rolls for special breakfasts—and everyone in my family knows you cannot have a holiday or family gathering without cinnamon rolls. It has to be on my “Eat-to-Save” mission. Yet, how could I make them and serve them hot out of the oven and not stay up all night or bake them the day before? I challenged myself to figure out how to make them fresh and easy. Make Ahead Freezer Cinnamon Rolls are my answer.
My family, the Ensminger cousins, meet for a weekend reunion each fall. We travel from all over the country and enjoy a weekend of fun, laughter, reminiscing, and of course, eating. This year, the gathering was in Oklahoma and the large cabin had a kitchen so we could cook together. We always enjoy the local sights and foods—and eat far too much. This year, the crowning glory of the weekend was a chuck wagon dinner, cooked and served from an antique chuck wagon. It was great fun and they served wonderful food!
Cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven were a cinch to serve for breakfast! I made the dough—easy to do, using a bread machine— rolled the cinnamon-sugar inside, cut the rolls and froze them in the pan a couple weeks before the reunion. All we had to do that morning was pop them in the oven and wait patiently for a few minutes. Serving cinnamon rolls just like my mom would have done let us all connect with a cherished family tradition and now, I am thrilled to share the tasty tradition with you.
Make Ahead Freezer Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup warm milk
1 egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3- 3/4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package quick rising or bread machine yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place milk, egg, egg yolk, butter and vanilla in a bread machine. Add flour, sugar, salt and yeast. (Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. ) Set on “dough” setting.
When dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Roll dough out until it forms a rectangle about 18 x 15-inches.
For the filling, spread the dough evenly with the butter. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the butter. Beginning at a long side, roll dough, jelly-roll style. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 rolls, each about 1-1/2-inches thick. (To easily cut the rolls, cut the roll first in half; cut each half in half, then cut each section into 3 rolls.)
Line a 9x 13-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Arrange rolls, cut side down, evenly in pan. Cover with plastic wrap, then cover with aluminum foil and seal edges tightly. Freeze.
To prepare: Place the pan of rolls in the refrigerator and allow to thaw for 24 hours. Uncover, removing aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool about 10 minutes.
For frosting: Beat butter until creamy using an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in sugar. Beat in milk, about 1 teaspoon at a time, until of desired spreading consistency. Beat in vanilla. Spread rolls with frosting, if desired.
Serve warm. (My mom never frosted the cinnamon rolls—and yes, they are really good even without the frosting.)
Makes 12 rolls
To make the dough without a bread machine, stir together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast. Add milk, egg, egg yolk, butter and vanilla. Beat using a heavy duty mixer on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour and stir to make a stiff dough. Knead, using a dough hook attachment, for 5 to 6 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Turn into a lightly greased bowl and grease the top of the dough. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down and proceed as recipe directs.
By lining the pan with aluminum foil, you can freeze the rolls until solid, then remove them from the pan. Place the aluminum foil packet of frozen rolls back in the pan when you remove it from the freezer. If you wish, omit the foil lining and butter the pan, then fill with rolls.
Substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, if desired.
If you wish, make the rolls and shape as directed. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Bake as directed.