Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saffron reminds me of Chrome Orange - Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

You're probably wondering how I'm making a connection between saffron, chrome orange and cinnamon rolls.  Believe me, in my household it isn't hard.

Let me start from the beginning.  It all started when our larder water pipes burst; not from the cold, but just from being old.  My neighbor across the street was quick to lend a hand and his expertise.  To thank him for being so obliging, I offered him either cinnamon rolls or banana bread.  He said he had my cinnamon rolls before, so he chose those.

I'm going to give you my cinnamon roll recipe that I've been using for the last twenty-five years or more.  It is a basic sweet dough recipe with eggs.  Then, I'll give you three things I've done to the recipe to make them memorable.

Here's the recipe:
4 pkgs. dry yeast (this translates to 9 teaspoons of loose yeast)
3 cups lukewarm water
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 teaspoons salt (I omit this)
1 cup shortening
9 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well. (Mix well is easy when you have a dough hook and you're letting your mixer do all the work.  Warning...9 cups of flour is a large amount of dough.  Make sure your mixer motor can handle this.  I have a Kitchen Aid and have never had a problem.

Let rise till doubled.  Divide dough into thirds and knead (it will be sticky - just add flour as needed).  Roll each section out jellyroll fashion.  Spread rectangle with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Roll up like jellyroll and slice into 12 equal pieces.  Place in a greased 9 x 12" pan.

At this point you can either let them rise and then bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes....OR, you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  This works well for either a Christmas morning breakfast or anytime you have large crowds and company.  You would allow the rolls to rise at room temperature until double, about 45 minutes and then bake.

Frost with powdered sugar frosting or your favorite frosting glaze.

This makes 3 pans of rolls.

You're probably thinking what you're possibly going to do with three pans of rolls, but rest assured they will go fast and if you give them away, all the better!

But there are three secrets to amazing cinnamon rolls that I've discovered along the way. Here is the first:
Secret one is saffron.

A pinch of saffron will transform baked goods into aromatic delights.  When baking, the crocus stamens turn the dough a golden yellow and the sweet aroma will fill your kitchen.  I would always use saffron with my traditional Ukrainian Easter recipes, but it wasn't until years later I decided to add it to my roll recipe.  That was a great move!

Secret Two - potato flour.  I am a fan of King Arthur flour including their potato flour.  I substitute around 1/2 a cup of potato flour for the white flour.   The potato flour gives your baked goods a moist texture that doesn't go stale after a day or two.  If you've never tried potato is a great staple for your pantry.

Secret Three - Graham crackers.  For my filling I grind up a package of graham crackers and add to my filling along with my cinnamon, sugar and butter.  The crackers beef up the filling without adding more butter and sugar.

Back to sewing now....  I got the rolls made and I have been working on a 1930s/40s quilt top I am machine quilting; more pictures to follow later.  But after having the saffron out and baking, it reminded me of what I would consider a true chrome orange.  The orange of the 30's, 40's quilt was listed as chrome orange.    The orange color of the 1st and 2nd quarter of the twentieth century is more of an apricot.

The orange on the left is from a schoolhouse block dating 1880-1910.  It is the stable orange dye Barbara Brackman talks about in Clues in the Calico.  All of the fabric is stable without croaking.  The orange on the right is part of the quilt top I am working on now.  Do you see the difference in the intensity?    

To me, is is as though the left is saffron, the right is apricot.  Sounds minor, but knowing this makes a difference when you are dating fabric. 

Stay turned for more pictures of this quilt because I found the PERFECT fabric to back it and I can't wait to show you.


  1. Can't wait to see that backing fabric!
    The problem with so many cinnamon rolls and only two in the house is that we'd eat them all!

    1. Chris, I forgot to mention that these rolls are great to freeze. :)