noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Day 4: Mother Mary’s Cinnamon Rolls October 4, 2013

Final Button 3I walked down the aisle to marry JR with a black and blue swollen ankle.  A  morning romp on the trampoline in my parent’s backyard was chosen over a “go run around the block” suggestion.   I have a history of needing to burn off excess energy especially when excited (or overwhelmed).  I was very excited to marry JR.

Six years later I had twin baby girls.  No more running around the block when I required it.  So I called mother Mary and told her that I needed to learn to make bread.  She disagreed, but  was eventually convinced  that bread making could be a positive in-home way to burn off excess whatever.    She taught me over the phone.  No Kitchen Aid mixer on my counter – no problem.  I was hoping kneading bread would replace running or trampolining during this season of life.  I’m ever grateful for that time of learning because bread baking is supposed to be the most sensual smell for a man.   HA!   Just kidding, though I did read that once.  I’m glad I am not afraid of bread baking because I can comfortably make cinnamon rolls all year-long.

Mother Mary doesn’t like to take credit for writing this recipe, but she has given the recipe out to so many people and fixed the rolls for hundreds more, so I declare the recipe is hers.

Though I’d love to have you over and enjoy them with us – I will pass the happiness around and encourage you to whip up a batch this weekend!  At the end of the recipe I will give a few tips for making them ahead of time.

Mother Mary’s Cinnamon Rolls

  1. 1 cup water  (temp 105 -115 degrees)
  2. 1 package yeast ( or 2 1/4 tsp out of the jar)
  3. 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Mix and let sit for 15 minutes until it is foamy.  

  1. 1 scant cup water (same temp)
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 1/2 cup flour (can use wheat)

Put this in mixing bowl and add yeast mixture.   Then add:

  1. 1 egg
  2. 1 Tlb salt
  3. 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix well and then slowly add:

  1. 3 1/2 cups of flour (I prefer King Arthur Bread Flour)

The dough will be sticky, that’s ok.  When it is well kneaded in your mixer –  either take it out and oil the bowl or tip the bread dough to one side – oil the bowl and do the same to the other side.  Cover bowl with Saran wrap and a towel and let rise for an hour or two in a warm or non-drafty spot.  If you have time – when it doubles in size, punch it down and let it rise again.  If you don’t…

Take dough out of bowl on put on well floured surface.  With a well floured rolling-pin roll out dough to a 12 by 15 rectangle.  (Truthfully I never measure but would bet my rectangle is a little bigger than that.   Perfection not necessary)

You will need 3 more ingredients:

  1. Brown Sugar (1/2 or more to cover dough)
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Butter (1/2 stick or more to cover dough)

Spread softened butter over the whole rectangle – all the way to the edges.  Spread brown sugar over the whole rectangle – all the way to the edges.  (NOTE:  mother mary uses white sugar).  Sprinkle cinnamon over the whole rectangle – again, to the edges.  Then starting with the long edge – roll into a log, sort of tucking the dough as you roll – so the log is as snug as you can get it.

Lay the log on a cutting board and cut in half.  Best to use a very sharp serrated knife and saw gently rather than pushing down hard.  Take 1/2 half and make 5 slashes on top so that when you cut them you will have 6 rolls.  Lay roll flat on the cut side in a greased pan or a baking stone.  Let rise for 15 min while your oven preheats to 400 degrees.

Bake at 400 for 20 min till lightly browned.


  1. 3 Tlb Butter
  2. 3 oz  Cream Cheese
  3. 2-3 Tlb milk, half and half, almond milk…
  4. 2-3 cups of powdered sugar

Start by softening butter and cream cheese – don’t melt though.  Add small amount of cream and slowly add powdered sugar.   Continue to add milk and sugar until you have a spreading consistency.   Amounts are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste.  I add a teeny tiny splash of almond extract if I have it on hand.     Spread this on rolls when you serve.


  • To freeze – let cool out of the oven for 20 -30 min.  Cover in Saran and Foil and put in the freezer.  To re-heat, take out of freezer and let thaw 1/2 hour or so, put in 250 degree oven for 10 min.
  • You can also roll em, top em, and put em in the pan and then in the fridge overnight.  They will rise in the fridge, but bake up nice and fresh the next morning.
  • You can make the dough, leave it in the bowl, and let it rise overnight. In the morning let it come to room temp for 1/2 hour, then roll out and bake.  This works well too.
  • One last thing, if you want really great dinner rolls, simply skip the roll out and top with butter, sugar, cinnamon and form them into buns and bake – same time and temp.

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