Sweet Mornings

When mornings roll around, my husband - who is a great and geeky dad to our clever tween - never complains if there are donuts, muffins, or pastries with our morning coffee. I love them too, but am not always in the mood to start baking immediately upon rolling out of bed. But I do have a friend in this seemingly difficult challenge: my freezer. While I'm not a fan of making or freezing donuts (sometimes we'll trek to our favorite kosher bakery for them though), I've been known to make and freeze muffins, coffee cakes, and all sorts of pastries. But what I really enjoy it making something fussy, like cinnamon rolls, and setting them up for the final baking step on special mornings … like Father's Day.

By front-loading all the work, you can have freshly baked cinnamon rolls ready in the morning in about a half hour with most of that just being baking time while you can put together some coffee, grab the paper, or scold the dog for eating your peonies (again). What's more, if you have a bread machine, you don't have any of the sweat-inducing work of kneading dough and trying to time that first rise perfectly. Heck, when I make these, the aforementioned clever tween can be a great help, particularly when applying the filling and cutting the rolls. Besides, it makes a nicer Father's Day surprise when the progeny is involved with the making of the morning sweets!

One of the nicest things about freezing these rolls and letting them thaw overnight on the counter is how versatile cinnamon rolls become. I have been known to bake as few as four at a time or as many as a dozen. And, every time, the kitchen smells amazing and when we bite into a still-warm roll, it tastes of love without leaving anyone at the table looking bleary-eyed because they needed to be up at the crack of dawn to make them. Now that's a gift for everyone!

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls

For the Filling:
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 5 T. ground cinnamon
  • ½ c. softened butter
For the Dough:
  • 1 c. milk heated 1 minute in the microwave
  • ¼ c. water at 110°F
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. softened butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 5 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. instant yeast
For the Frosting:
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • ¼ c. butter
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon together; set aside. Keep softened butter in a separate bowl; set aside.

To make the dough, add all of the dough ingredients to your bread machine, following the instructions in your manual about preferred order. Select the “DOUGH” setting. When the cycle is done, turn out the dough onto a counter sprayed with cooking spray and form the dough into an oval. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

After the dough has rested, working on your sprayed counter, roll the dough into a 15x24 inch rectangle. Using a spatula, spread with the butter set aside for the filling, almost to the edges. Sprinkle the butter evenly with the cinnamon mixture. Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough. Pinch the seam closed.

Using a foot-long strand of flavorless waxed dental floss, slide it under the roll until it’s 1½" from the end of the roll. Bring the ends of the floss up and cross them past each other above the roll. This will cut the roll into neat disks. Continue with this process until you've sliced the entire roll into disks.

Put the rolls onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or covered with a silicone baking mat. Freeze for at least an hour before sliding the individually frozen cinnamon rolls into two resealable gallon freezer bags. Store in your freezer until ready to use.

To bake the cinnamon rolls, remove the desired number of rolls and arrange in a baking spray-coated baking dish and allow to thaw overnight while covered with plastic wrap. In the morning, remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes. Remove them from the oven, cool slightly, and frost.

To make the frosting, while the rolls are cooling, combine the cream cheese and butter; beat until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract; mix until creamy. Any leftover frosting can be refrigerated or frozen, but bring it to room temperature before you use it to frost additional cinnamon rolls.

  • Yields: 16 cinnamon rolls
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours to freezing; Overnight thawing/rising; 30 minutes baking and frosting

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