I’m going to start referring to my recipes as “Engineer-Tested”. It’s true. I usually deliver a substantial amount of baked goods to my husband’s work. Shut in their tiny warehouse office, the engineers, designers, and whoever else is around always seem happy to eat whatever I bring them. I like to think that I’m contributing to the incredible things these super smart people do.
This week the engineers tested a very special recipe for me. I brought over half my celebratory Maple Cinnamon Rolls, baked in honor of the Recipe Swap’s first birthday. This may only be my second month in the swap, but a talented group of bloggers has been putting unique spins on retro recipes for a whole year! I’m so glad Christianna of Burwell General Store had the brilliant idea to start the swap last year and I hope it will keep going for years to come. I just got started!
A birthday deserves a cake, of course, so our starting recipe this month is for Maple Syrup Cake.
“Maple molasses”, aka, maple syrup (I googled it), sugar, butter, spices…why mess with a good thing? Well, I guess that’s not the point. According to the rules of the recipe swap, I had to change something. Believe me, I’ll be making this cake straight up at some point. For this post, I turned the typical birthday dessert (cake) into my family’s typical birthday breakfast (cinnamon rolls).
My mom denies this, but she used to make cinnamon rolls for my brother and I to eat on our birthday mornings. She claims it was only my brother that got cinnamon rolls and maybe she’s right. The point is, I associate cinnamon rolls with birthdays, almost more so than white-iced cakes topped with plastic toys and candles. I love the smell of spice and layers of soft bread swirled with sweet, sticky cinnamon.
My mom made her birthday breakfast cinnamon rolls from the tube, which is perfectly fine with me. Last year, though, I found a cinnamon rolls recipe that I will probably make for the rest of my life. It comes from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan, which I found in a thrift store. These rolls were actually my first post in MuffinEgg, making them especially appropriate for this blog-related birthday. The bread is light and fluffy and the filling, made according to the original recipe, is not too sweet. If you’re after that really dark, sweet cinnamon swirl, there is nothing stopping you from putting a few spoonfulls of brown sugar on your dough before rolling it up.
Only three left by the time I took my pictures. They’re that good.
Of course, this time I had maple syrup cake on the brain so my favorite cinnamon rolls got a maple-y twist. There’s maple syrup in the dough and between it’s layers. In fact, maple syrup is the only sweetener in these cinnamon rolls. As an added bonus, I threw in a vanilla bean (not literally. I scraped the seeds out and threw them in). I have a huge package of vanilla beans and keep forgetting to use them. Cinnamon roll dough with vanilla beans…yum. If you have some, try it!
The original instructions suggest doubling the recipe and freezing half the cinnamon rolls before baking. I think this is a brilliant idea. I can’t really imagine a situation where you would want to make only 8 cinnamon rolls and not even put more away for a rainy day. I doubled the recipe for you here, so if you really want a small batch you can halve the ingredients or check out my first cinnamon roll post.
Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan
1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1/2 cup mashed peeled sweet potato
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Optional: seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
My Free-Form Filling
2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. When it reaches a boil, turn off heat and add potato, butter, and maple syrup.
Next, combine yeast and warm water in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve.
Add the potato mixture to the yeast and water.
Beat in egg, salt, and vanilla bean.
Add 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, mixing well. Then add the remaining white and wheat flour.
Knead until smooth and elastic.
Cover and leave someplace warm to rise until doubled in size (this takes about 1 hour).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Punch down dough and knead on lightly floured surface. Then let it sit for another 10 minutes.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness in an approximately 9×15 in. rectangle-ish shape.
Spread coconut oil over the dough. My coconut oil was soft enough that I could spread it around with my fingers.
Drizzle with maple syrup and spread the syrup around with the back of a spoon
Sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts.
Roll dough up from the longer side so you have a long roll.
Cut into 1 inch thick slices (or whatever size gives you 16 rolls) and set rolls in a baking dish or two (you can put one in a plastic bag and then in the freezer for later).
Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
I like to top my cinnamon rolls as needed. The engineers got a simple powdered sugar glaze on theirs. I ate some rolls plain and sprinkled others with powdered cinnamon sugar. You could also spread more coconut oil or butter and maple syrup over warm rolls before serving (like pancakes but maybe better).