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PW Cinnamon Rolls

Non food note: I start my “big kid” job on Monday! OHMYGOSH. I’m so excited! I’ll be working at Moss Adams, LLP as a tax staff accountant! I’ve enjoyed (last ever) Christmas break of three weeks, but I’m so ready to get to work!

Waaaay back in high school, I made friends with a girl named Kristin whose mother, Mrs. C, also happened to be my chemistry teacher. Mrs. C became a sort of surrogate mother when I was on campus during school. Had a bad day? She was always waiting with a hug. Shit hit the fan with a history teacher my junior year? Totally there to help me figure out what to do next. Forgot lunch or lunch money? She generally let me riffle through her lunch for food. I also much lived in her classroom.

Her daughter, Kristin is a spitting image of her mother. A nicer, more caring, more empathetic 20something I have yet to meet. She is currently doing her masters in counseling (I think) at Saint Mary’s (I know). She wants to be high school counselor, and I can’t think of anyone who is better suited for that job. If she cares, she cares deeply. If you decide to do something that makes you happy she’ll be there cheering and encouraging you all the way through, which is what I think a lot of high school students need.

Now every Christmas I go over to Mrs. C’s house and make Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls, albeit with a few modifications, with Kristin. The dough we make per the recipe, but the filling we use about half the sugar and butter and for the frosting we make about half to 2/3 of what the recipe calls for. Everything still works out and tastes delicious, but the rolls just aren’t swimming in the frosting.

I blogged about the rolls last year – but this year I got some pretty pictures and I  wanted to update the amount of things we used to be more accurate. This year was as tasty as last year. There is always some downtime with making the dough: the milk, vegetable oil and sugar all have to be mixed together, then scalded, and then cooled which takes about 45 minutes to an hour. After that cooling period, you throw in the yeast and let that sit for a minute or so. Then the dry ingredients get mixed in, and then you let it sit in a warm place until it’s doubled in size which is about an hour. So there’s about 2 hours of inactive time which is just fine with me because it gives plently of time for Kristin and me to catch up! This year we chatted and watched White Christmas  which I’d never seen before.

After we rolled out the dough we put about 1/2 a cup of butter on the rolled out portion and then go more-or-less hog wild with the cinnamon and only sprinkle about half cup to 2/3 cup of sugar over the dough. Then you roll everything up into a nice neat package, which isn’t as hard as you think it would be, and start slicing.

As a perk to making the rolls at Kristin’s house I get  to look out their kitchen and see this view:Isn’t that an awesome view?

The overall flavor reminds me of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls but better. I think it’s the frosting that makes them. The maple frosting seems less cloyingly sweet then Cinnabon’s frosting. The maple also adds a nice flavor that I don’t normally seek out – I’m not a huge maple fan but it works with the rolls.

Mr. C was home by the time we started baking so he, of course, had to taste one right after they’d been frosted. They won his approval just like last year – so at least Kristin and I know we’re consistent! The recipe makes about 36 rolls, I put them in disposable pie pans with six rolls in each. This year we decided to test how they taste after freezing (bake, ice, and then freeze – reheat in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes) and they tasted just as good as fresh out of the oven.

The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls
The filling and frosting have been cut in half to reflect what Kristin and I actually do
Ever so slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl


1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 4.5 teaspoons
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 heaping teaspoon Baking Powder
1 scant teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Salt


1 cup butter – more if needed
1 cup sugar – more if needed
Generous sprinkling Of Cinnamon

Maple Frosting

1 pound Powdered Sugar
1.5 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
.25 cups Milk
3 tablespoons Melted Butter
1/8 cups Brewed Coffee
pinch teaspoons Salt

Extra melted butter for the pans


In a large pot mix together the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar. Heat over medium heat until it’s just about to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 45 minutes to an hour or until the mixture is about body temperature (you should be able to leave your finger in mixture and have it feel warm but not hot).

Pour in the yeast and allow to proof for a few minutes. While the yeast is proofing measure out 8 cups of flour. Mix flour and yeast-milk mixture. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place to double in size – about an hour.

Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the last cup of flour. Remove half the dough (if you’re feeling overly neurotic you can weigh the dough or you can just eyeball it) and roll it out til the dough measures about 30″ by 10″.


Pour 1/2 cup of the melted butter over rolled out dough. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the butter. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar over the cinnamon – use more if you need to.  Starting from the 30″ edge roll towards yourself until the entire thing is rolled. Pinch the seam to secure the roll. Cut in to 1.5″ slices.

Pour a little bit of the extra butter into pie pans. And arrange the slices in the pan being careful to not overcrowd them – they expand! Set aside for 20 minutes.

Repeat for the second half the dough.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until golden brown.


Mix together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee and salt. Then add the maple flavoring. You can tinker with adding more of any of the ingredients to get the flavor you’d like – the frosting, in the end, should be think but still pourable.

After the rolls come out of the oven, pour the icing over the rolls.


5 comments to PW Cinnamon Rolls

  • I really need to make these cinnamon rolls – they look so good and I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like them!

    Also good, good, good luck for Monday, I felt exactly the same about starting my grown up job and I know you’re going to do brilliantly!

  • These are so beautiful! As always — after reading your blog posts, now I am *so* hungry.

    Also, your friend and her family sound like awesome people. :)

    • Rene

      Kathryn – They are gloriously delicious! You should definitely make them!

      Molly – Kristin and her family are the sincerely nice and encouraging people ever. I love spending time with them!

  • First of all, congratulations on your new job! Very happy for you. 2012 is looking great already. Second of all, these rolls look beyond epic. I mean the shape looks perfect and the glaze is mouth-watering. Lastly, that view is killer.

    Hope you had a great holiday break! Best wishes!

    • Rene

      Kathy – Thank you! 2012 is looking fabulous! Isn’t that view killer? I’d love to have that outside my kitchen window! Such a rough life ;). And thank you, I did have a wonderful holiday break!

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