It’s a post that bears repeating. A chill in the air means its time to bake Cinnamon Rolls.
If this weekend round of January 2022 weekend snow feels like Ground Hog Day in Charlotte NC, its not. That happens next week, February 2. But this month, I’ve taken weekend snow or ice storms as Mother Nature’s way of telling me it’s 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, even if the wintery mix of precipitation is at a minimum. Bake and then bundle up and go outside for a walk and enjoy it all anyway!
I originally reposted this 2017 post when I took this photo in December 2018. Seems like we really haven’t had a BIG snow since then, but I’ll take it. Any little bit is just as much fun and a great excuse for baking something sweet, rich and warm. Nothing like cinnamon rolls right out of the oven.
SnOMG its time to get baking
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 Day”. Snow seems to lighten the mood and make everything more fun! And when the snow day falls on a weekend, it’s even better.
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 or paperwork, I’d prefer to play.
Take a look at it all through adolescent rose-colored glasses and make footprints in the snow (if there is enough in your neighborhood to do that) or just go outside for a walk and take in the cold crisp air. Then back inside to drink hot chocolate ( or an adult version of the same with these coffee rum lattes) – brulee the marshmallows to make it extra good; 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.
What you need to make homemade cinnamon rolls
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. Zack also makes a wonderfully rich and creamy whole milk yogurt cheese which I often use in place of the sour cream.
If you are wanting to make a dairy-free version of these rolls, it’s very doable. I suggest using Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter and your favorite dairy free plain or vanilla yogurt.
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. You can read more about Southern Biscuit Flour here in a post about baking buttermilk biscuits – another great thing to make on a snow day. For more biscuit baking ideas, go here and serve them as suggested with country ham and a side of cheesy (local) rice grits.
I digress. Back to the prep for these cinnamon rolls. 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.
You 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…
What’s a Cinnamon Roll without 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.
No 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! You’ll find local molasses at several area farmers markets. You’ll have to look around a bit, but it’s worth it. When you find it, buy several jars so you will have backstock. Personally, 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 cinnamon roll 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
I 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
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