The Sugar (& Cinnamon) To Sprinkle on Your Snow Day

It’s a post that bears repeating. A chill in the air means its time to bake Cinnamon Rolls.

Mother Nature is telling me its time for a repost of a recipe blog post I initially ran early January 2017. I’ve updated some details to make it more timely, and a few of the photos as well; but the truth is, not much smells better than a batch of cinnamon rolls in the oven. And, not much tastes better after a brisk walk or some fun outside romping in just fallen snow – enjoy, enjoy!

IMG_1693I originally reposted this 2017 post in  Jan 17, 2018; and now in December 2018 looks like we will be almost ending the year the same way it started with snow – and with any luck, there will be fresh baked  cinnamon rolls.

SnOMG its time to get baking

Jan 2018 was Charlotte’s  first real snow of the year and now this first full week in December after a year of wacky weather it looks like the temps are taking a dive once again. If you are sharing  about it all once the white stuff starts to hit – its  #SnOMG or #Snomageddon on social media!

Although I’ve been Charlotte-based since 1975, I’m still a Florida-raised girl at heart.  For me, the words, “Snow Day” run synonymous with the term “Free”. Of course, now we have laptops and can work from home; but still the snow seems to lighten the mood and make everything more fun!

How Will You Spend Your Snow Day?

Snow in Charlotte, and often the accompanying ice, causes a run on the bread and milk aisles in local groceries and a bit of a local panic. Truth is, in 2-3 days its usually all melted and gone. So, while this wintery “free” time provides an unexpected opportunity to take a deep breath and catch up on cleaning and paperwork, I’d prefer to play, Take a look at it all through adolescent rose-colored glasses and  make footprints in the snow,  drink hot chocolate and enjoy making these cinnamon rolls.

Make it a cinnamon roll kind of weekend

Snow or not, you’ll find this recipe makes for a fun morning of winter’s baking, filling your home with the sweet strong scent of cinnamon. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or as a late afternoon treat with your favorite cup of coffee or cocoa,  cinnamon rolls are one of those simple pleasures to enjoy with your family, your friends or all by yourself any time of the year.

cinnamon rolls

What you will need:

Keeping the recipe as local as I can, I try to use local eggs which I usually have on  hand. Its a regular weekly buy for me at Saturday farmers’ markets and I suggest you do the same. During the week, you can usually find local eggs in Charlotte at all three locations of Pasta & Provisions and also at some farm stores.   If you don’t have fresh eggs on hand, use what you have but put it on your weekend Farmers’ market shopping list to pick up local eggs this Saturday. Local chicken or duck eggs  really do  make all the difference! If you can’t get local eggs, buy organic free range or pasture-raised eggs from most any grocery store.

Stock the Pantry, just in case

For the remaining ingredients, if I can’t find a locally raised or produced option, I turn toward organic choices.  In this case, the sugar I used in the recipe is organic, as is the butter. If I am lucky when snow hits I will still have local butter on hand. My go to –  Zack Gadberry’s Uno Alla Volta. Available on Saturdays at the Matthews Community Market or the Charlotte Regional Market.

My flour of choice is local, too! It’s the all purpose Southern Biscuit Flour,  brought to you by Renwood Mills in Newton NC., SBF is available in nearly every grocery store.  While you are in the baking aisle picking up flour, be sure to pick up yeast as well.

It’s yeast that makes those cinnamon rolls rise to great heights

If you don’t bake often, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Here’s the How-To when using yeast in a recipe.  My preference is to use SAF brand instant yeast. its hard to find in Charlotte grocery stores but you can order it online from King Arthur Flour and I feel sure Amazon probably has it as well.

To start, Proof the yeast ( to make sure it is good) when you first open the package or jar , by stirring the prescribed amount into water that is tepid. That is no hotter than 110 degrees F.

img_7819You can use an instant-read thermometer if you’d like, but if you want to go by feel, tepid water  is not as cold as what you would pour for a glass to drink; but not as hot as what you would use to wash your face. Think room temperature.  Stir the yeast in and wait for a bit of foaming of bubbling action to occur on the water’s surface, once that happens you are good to go. Store the remaining yeast in an airtight container in the freezer and use it as needed. Further directions in the recipe below…

Now, Lets Talk about the Cinnamon

For today – use what you have on hand, but for the snow days in your future, my go-to spot for spice is the Savory Spice Shop in Southend Charlotte, NC.

cinnamon rollsNo more buying big jars and then having them grow old and stale between recipes. It’s always good to keep basics on hand, but for specialty items, buy as is needed and know that you may purchase as much or as little as you’d like. While the Savory Spice Shop  carries several varieties of ground cinnamon and cinnamon chips ( ooh, wouldn’t those be a great addition to these rolls!) my favorite cinnamon for sweet and spicy culinary endeavors alike is the piquant, rich ground Saigon Cassia Cinnamon. Before you cook, go in and taste all the varieties on the shelves ( this is one of the pleasures of shopping at Savory Spice,  you may taste before you buy) and find the one that works best for you.

So there you have it – all that’s left is the fun that’s to be had in the baking. I fill my cinnamon rolls with a mix of the organic white sugar, cinnamon and my homemade brown sugar ( the how-to here is in the recipe) Be generous as you sprinkle for extra ooey-goo-iness. If you’re feeling adventurous, mix it up a bit with the addition of chocolate, cinnamon or butterscotch chips,  or cocoa nibs ( cocoa nibs are also available at Savory Spice Shop)

Heidi’s Homemade (SnowDay) Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup organic sour cream or  organic yogurt

½ cup organic sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ cup melted butter

½ cup tepid water

2 Tbsp. dry active yeast

2 local chicken or duck eggs

4 cups organic or local unbleached flour

For the cinnamon roll filling:

generous amounts of melted butter
, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar*

Of course you can buy regular brown sugar or organic brown sugar at most grocery stores. But, how much fun is it to make your own brown sugar as you need it?

*Here’s the Brown Sugar How-To:

Make your own brown sugar by using 2 1/2 cups of organic sugar and 1/4 cup of local NC Sorghum Syrup molasses ( Forget the commercial blackstrap molasses and go local here – it really makes a delicious difference! I love the sorghum syrup molasses from Harrell Hill Farms in Bakersville, NC and you will too, but any NC sorghum syrup works well. Blend the two ingredients together  by using quick on-off pulsing motions in a food processor until the sugar dissolves into the sorghum and viola! – Your own homemade brown sugar – yum!

For the dough:

Dissolve yeast in warm water with one teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and when a foam forms on the surface it is ready. If no foam appears within five minutes, then either your water was too hat or your yeast was old. Start again with cooler water and another package of yeast. 
Once the yeast starts to foam or proof, combine it with the other dough ingredients to form a soft but sticky dough.
 Let rise 1 hour. Turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead until smooth then roll dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick.

To shape the  cinnamon rolls:

Generously spread the dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugars and cinnamon. Roll up like a jelly roll. Cut the log of dough into 1 ½ inch thick slices. Place the slices in a buttered pan, cut side up. Drizzle with additional melted butter. 
Cover with a dish towel and let rise an additional 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 23-30 minutes.

Heidi Billotto Cooks | Heidi Billotto Writes | Heidi Billotto Teaches

THE HEIDILOGOCOOKSI can’t wait to see and hear how your cinnamon rolls bake up!  Post photos and then tag me on your social media posts – @HeidiBillotto and @HeidiBillottoCooks on Facebook; @HeidiCooks on Twitter and @heidibillotto on Instagram

Consider me your go-to-gal for info on chefs, restaurants, recipes, cooking tips, trends, food-centric travel and regular posts on all the ways you can Eat and Drink Local. Plus I teach a regular series of cooking classes and if you decide you just don’t want to cook, well then, give me a shout – I cater, too!

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