My mother made a lot of cinnamon raisin rolls. Most of the time, she would use her ordinary white bread dough. She made a double batch of bread twice a week when I was growing up, so she would take a quarter of the dough for rolls and we would enjoy a pan of dinner rolls for supper or cinnamon raisin rolls for dessert. Warm from the oven, they tasted wonderful.
But every once in a while she would stir up a batch of “sweet roll dough” to make coffee cakes and rolls. They tasted like the rolls you get with this recipe. I ate a lot of these too.
1/2 cup water
3 tsp. yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
8 T butter, divided
2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
5 1/2 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
Put a half cup of warm water in a cup. You can test that the water is not too hot by letting a drop fall on the inside of your wrist. It should feel only slightly warm. Stir the yeast and a pinch of sugar into the water and set it aside to proof. Put two large eggs into a bowl of warm water to bring them to a warm room temperature.
Heat the milk to steaming and put it into a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening and four tablespoons butter and stir until the butter has melted. Stir in the sugar, salt and two cups of flour. Beat this batter until it is smooth.
Beat the eggs until they are lemon colored and stir them into the batter. Make sure that the batter is not too hot, then stir in the yeast. Beat in the eggs, then add additional flour a cup at a time to make a soft dough, stirring each cup in completely before adding the next.
After stirring in five cups, add the final cup a small amount at a time, stopping if the dough starts to pull completely away from the sides of the bowl. You may even need a little more than six cups of flour to get the dough to the point where it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Let the dough rest in the bowl for five or six minutes. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead it for one to two minutes. The dough will remain somewhat sticky. Grease the mixing bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise until it has doubled in bulk.
Melt four tablespoons of butter and have the brown sugar and raisins ready. With some of the melted butter, grease baking pans with enough capacity to hold at least two dozen rolls.
Turn the risen dough out onto the floured surface and divide it into two or three pieces. Put one or two back into the bowl and shape the other piece into a roughly rectangular loaf, turning it on the floured surface to keep it from sticking. Roll the dough until it is a third to a half inch thick.
Paint it generously with melted butter, sprinkle generously with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins and roll the dough into a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into sections an inch and a half to two inches long and stand each section in the prepared baking pan. The sections should be touching each other in the pan. Repeat the process with the other two pieces of dough.
Cover the pans with a damp kitchen towel and allow the rolls to rise in a warm place until they have approximately doubled in height. This will take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how warm it is in your kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 350º while the rolls are rising.
Set the pans on a center rack and bake the rolls for about twenty-five minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Unless you are concerned about your sugar intake, glaze them with a powdered sugar glaze. To make it, stir about two tablespoons of milk, half and half or cream into a cup of powdered sugar. Add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the pan of rolls while they are still hot.
NOTES: These rolls are best eaten warm and slathered with butter. They taste fresh the next day if you give them a few seconds at reduced power in your microwave.
This dough makes wonderful filled coffee cakes too. Just roll it out to about a quarter inch thickness, paint all but a half inch on the edges with butter and spread your favorite filling over the center of the dough. Moisten the edges with milk or water and fold one side of the dough slightly past the center line of the filling.
Do the same with the other side of the dough. Seal the seam and ends and lay the cake seam side down on a baking pan. With a sharp knife make three or four slashes about two inches long in the top of the cake to let steam escape.
Bake it with the rolls for about twenty-five minutes. Drizzle glaze over the cake if you like, or simply paint it with a little butter after taking it from the oven.