Saturday, December 25, 2010

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, Starting New Traditions

Christmas can be a stressful time of year.  So many things to remember, people to visit, shopping to be done, and of course, baking to do. Why do we feel the need to cram so much into such a small amount of time?  We have decided to stay home and relax a little this Christmas.  We will venture out during the day on Christmas eve to visit Hubby's 91 year old grandma but that is probably it.  We tend to see family quite regularly during the year so to really spend a day or two rushing around seems a bit much.  My father and mother in law will come over Christmas morning to visit and have a light breakfast (my dad might stop by as well).  As much as I want to make a full on bacon, eggs,  and hashbrowns brekkie, that would be way too much.  Especially considering we will all be having a big dinner later on.

We used to gather at my Mom and Dad's house every Christmas eve.  They would host a highly attended open house.  Friends and family would come over, eat lots of food, visit, laugh and just be pretty darn merry! Now when I say family and friends, I mean everyone one of us had friends (who are really just like family anyways) from our childhood come over and mingle with the aunts, uncles, and cousins.  As the years went on and families got bigger, so did some of the Christmas eve gatherings.  Most people made the effort to at least come over for a few minutes.  It really was quite the tradition!

The last time we gathered at the house for Christmas Eve (2008) just happened to be our first Christmas without my Mom. We thought we would give it a go since we had so recently lost her but without her there, it just didn't seem right.   Last year we had our first quiet Christmas at home, and you know what? As difficult as it was at first I came to realize that is was nice.  Just the three of us (and the cats).  No rushing out the door, no driving in the new snow, no running all over the city.  When all was said and done, we decided it was a good time start to some new traditions of our own.

A new tradition: baking together on Christmas Eve!
I do love to bake bread.  I love everything about it.  The kneading, waiting for the rise, the shaping of a loaf or buns, and of course, the smell!!!  Now add the aroma of cinnamon to the fresh baking bread.....WOW!!  Cinnamon buns will be served at breakfast Christmas morning!  I made the dough and the rolls Christmas eve with my 5 year old nephew and let it rise in the fridge overnight.  In the morning we will open gifts to the wonderous smell of cninnamon!

My sister and her family came over for Christmas Eve this year and it was quite the nice evening.  We munched on some food, watched "Christmas Vacation", a family favourite, and assembled cinnamon buns.  My 5 year old nephew loves to help in the kitchen so I called over in the afternoon and asked them to bring a baking pan over.  I doubled the dough recipe so Issac and I could make a batch for them to take home and bake in the morning!  I made the dough before they arrived so it would rise.  Five year olds aren't renowned for their patience in waiting for dough to rise.

The boys watching 'Christmas Vacation"
I have made cinnamon buns many times but I don't ever remember which recipe I use.  I think I am still on the hunt for the perfect cinnamon bun recipe...If I had made a cinnamon bun that has blown us all away, surely I would have written it down or saved that recipe somewhere, right?  I am going to attempt Alton Brown's overnight cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Alton Brown
Ingredients for the dough
Save the whites for Meringues!

4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
¼ cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk
20 oz flour (about 4 cups)
1 envelope yeast
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt

Make the dough:

Warm the buttermilk slightly in the microwave and mix in the sugar.  Add the yeast and let it get all nice and foamy.

Mix all of the flour with the 1 ¼ tsp salt.

In the bowl of your mixer and using the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, the egg, the cooled but melted butter.

Add in the buttermilk, sugar, and yeast mixture and ½ of the flour.  Whisk until everything is moistened.

Replace the whisk attachment with the dough hook and about half of the left over flour mixture and knead on low for 5 minutes.  Check the dough and add more flour if necessary.  The dough will be soft but shouldn’t be sticky.

Continue kneading on low for another 5 minutes or so.  The dough will pull off from the sides of the bowl.

Lightly oil a big bowl. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel.
Leave the dough in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size.  (Alton says 2 to 2 ½ and that is what it took!)

Make the filling!!!

In a bowl combine and mix thoroughly:

1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Set the sugar mixture aside with 2 tbsp softened butter,

Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Punch the dough down!!

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and roll out with a rolling pin, doing your best to keep the shape of the dough rectangular (make it about 18 x 12 inches).

Smear the softened butter all over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border at the top.

Sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture all over the butter.

Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll the rectangle up towards the top making sure to keep the roll even and tight.

Pinch the seam gently to seal the roll.
Use a sharp knife, cut the roll in half.  Then cut the halves into half again (making quarters).  Now cut the quarters each into thirds creating 12 even rolls.(I miscalculated and we got 16 rolls....oh well)

Place the rolls into the greased pan cut side down. Cover with tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to chill.

In the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and let them come to room temperature for about 45 minutes. (Alton suggests placing the rolls in a cold oven on the top rack.  On the bottom rack place a pan and fill it two thirds with boiling water.  Close the oven for about 30 minutes until the rolls have puffed up)

Bake the rolls at 350F for about 30 minutes until a nice golden brown.

Alton serves his rolls with a cream cheese icing but I prefer mine plain with butter or with a simple vanilla glaze.
Mix together 1/2 cup icing sugar with 1 tsp vanilla and enough milk to make a glaze like consistency. Pour over the rolls!

Starting new traditions can be therapeutic.  Making new memories for the young ones to have is truly in the spirit of Christmas.


  1. Oh these look delicious. I have such a cinnamon roll weakness. ;)

  2. I keep hearing about this Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. It's a tradition I think I like! This recipe looks gorgeous and I'm up for trying it soon.

  3. What a wonderful post. I love the photos of your baking with your nephew! I love baking w/my kids...especially doing the Christmas cookies. Your rolls look wonderful. Thank you for your sweet comment today:)Happy New Year!


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