Since we’re moving into a new house in two weeks and five days (not that anyone’s counting), I’m not doing a ton of elaborate cooking these days. But yesterday morning I decided I’d make my kids a sort of cinnamon roll cake thing that I saw in an add for Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast. It was a one-pan recipe, using a 9 and a half inch pie plate. I just happened to stumble on a 9 ½ “ pie plate at the grocery store last week, or I wouldn’t have been able to make it. I have 9” pie plates, and 10” pie plates, but not 9 ½ “. It was a Pyrex one, and it was $4. I decided it was fate, and I was meant to make the cinnamon roll recipe.
I found this recipe in an ad in the November issue of Everyday Food, and have been eyeing it for a couple of weeks. It sounds so easy, and looks so good. In reality, it is both easy and good. You mix up some dry ingredients—including two packages of RapidRise Yeast—with some water and a little melted butter. The dough then gets sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with a Karo syrup-based sticky sauce.
It’s a good recipe to do with kids, because there’s little measuring, and is made in just a couple of steps. I would suggest you put the pie plate on a sheet of wax paper, parchment paper, or a cutting board if you’re letting a little person stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Pie plates don’t have very high sides, and the likelihood that a child will slop some of the dry ingredients out of the pan is pretty good. Mine did. With a piece of paper of some kind underneath it, you can just scrape whatever gets pushed out back in.
Once the dough is mixed, it doesn’t cover the entire pan, but it will expand during cooking to fill it up. I think I might reduce the sugar in the cinnamon sugar mixture down a bit. It was a pretty generous covering. And be sure the sticky sauce part covers all the cinnamon sugar mixture. If it doesn’t, the sugar just stays granular and falls off when you serve the cake. I left the nuts out of it because my children don’t like nuts, but I’d like to make it again with the nuts, just to see.
I think the nicest thing about this recipe is that you put it in a cold oven. The gentle heat of the oven warming up lets the yeast activate, whereas putting it into a hot oven would just kill the yeast before it could work. But it means you can make this recipe on a moment’s notice, without worrying about remembering to preheat the oven.
I prefer to make things like cinnamon rolls, quick breads, scones, etc, because then I can control what goes in them. There are only two tablespoons of sugar in the batter itself (which is more than compensated for by the sugar in both the cinnamon sugar topping, and the sticky topping, which is nothing but corn syrup and brown sugar; still, I like that I can control the sugar content if I like). I might even try swapping out some of the white flour for whole wheat flour. It probably wouldn’t impact the texture or flavor much, and it could make them a tad more healthy.
When I was a kid I never got homemade cinnamon rolls. It was yet another thing in the long list of stuff my mom never made me. I did get the kind that came in the can you unroll and then it pops and scares the hell out of you. They taste a lot like the cardboard the tube is made of. I hate those popping can things. When I was in college, my roommate and I used to eat a very elaborate dinner every night, consisting of a pan fried boneless pork chop, some kind of green vegetable, and a can of those popping biscuits. We’d alternate who had to open the can because we were both always afraid of the pop part. This recipe takes only slightly longer than opening the cardboard tube, and it’s far less startling.
I’ve made cinnamon rolls from scratch myself dozens of times, but my usual complaint is that they take forever. I did find a recipe in one of the Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks for some that took only about 45 minutes, but they were still a big production to make, with rolling out the dough and sprinkling the filling in and so on. The benefit to these is that preparation is minimal, which I like. They’re not Cinnabon by any means, but they’re fine for a quick weekend breakfast.
This photo is not mine; the real thing in my kitchen was a dismembered mess before I could get a picture of them. I cooked them for the stated time, but I think they could even have gone five or ten more minutes without determent to the finished product. They were just done. They were nice and moist, but just this side of done, which means they would be a little more cakelike if they stayed in the oven a few more minutes. I’d make these again for a quick brunch for friends, or for my family when they were craving cinnamon rolls. I also want to try some more of the one-dish recipes that are on the Fleischmann’s web site. There’s a fudge cake thing that looks good and easy. If it’s as easy as the cinnamon rolls, it could be a great weeknight or casual dinner party dessert.
Here’s the recipe:
For the batter:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 envelopes Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Caramel Pecan Topping:
1/3 cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Mix batter ingredients in a pre-sprayed 9-1/2 inch deep dish pie plate. Combine Cinnamon Sugar Topping Ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Stir together corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a small bowl. Add pecans and mix well. Top batter evenly with cinnamon sugar topping. Spoon the caramel pecan topping evenly over the batter. Bake by placing in a COLD oven; set temperature to 350°F. Bake 25 minutes, until lightly browned and firm in center. Cool slightly; serve warm.
Serves 8 (or two adults, and three small children who REALLY like cinnamon rolls)