Lighter Cinnamon Rolls

Light Cinnamon Rolls on Whisk Together 4

Book Update:  This week’s assignment in Positive Psychology is on creativity, genius and aesthetics.  A very small paragraph noted Angela Duckworth’s work, which I have been reading recently including her paper “What No Child Left Behind Leaves Behind,” that grit actually outranks IQ and GPA and has been able to successfully predict with greater accuracy outcomes such as who will succeed at West Point Academy.  This article entitled “Grit is More Important Than Talent” goes into greater detail.

I also found really interesting in my readings the “10 year rule”.  For excellence, it seems that there is a definite trend.  Those that are truly experts practice (whether it be music, science, etc.) for four hours per day and seven days per week.  Expert violinists that were at the top of the top put at least 10,000 hours total.  Those violinists who were still excellent but not the top elite practiced 2,500 less hours total.  This trend holds true for “The Beatles” who gained enormous practice in their job in Germany and Bill Gates who was one of few people at the time to gain thousands of hours of experience with computers at his level.  More info on these examples are in Gladwell’s “Outliers” book.  It’s a fun read, too.

Light Cinnamon Roll on Whisk Together

Recipe:  This recipe rocks.  I love cinnamon rolls – homemade cinnamon rolls.  Once you have homemade cinnamon rolls you can’t go back.  Now, my bread machine cinnamon rolls up until today were my mainstay.  They were easy coming from the bread machine and very tasty.  These were just as easy to make in the mixer and lower in calories can’t hurt!  Especially when you end up eating three of them in one day.  Don’t look at me like that.

Plus, the recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen, so you know it’s good.  I really try to stop myself from buying too many cookbooks, but I may have to break down and get their new one — “Comfort Food Makeovers.”

As a side note, I used Red Star Yeast’s Platinum yeast.  This is my new favorite yeast and I will keep with this one for a long time.  Every time I use it the bread is perfect.  I think rise time is actually shorter because it rises so well.  LOVE it.

Lighter Cinnamon Rolls
yield 12 rolls

3 and 3/4 cups (18.75 oz.) AP flour – Divided!
2 and 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 envelope of instant yeast)
1 tsp. salt
1 and 1/3 cup warm milk (skim or low fat)
3 Tb. maple syrup (I used 3 Tb. of sugar free syrup and 1 Tb. of sugar)
2 Tb. butter, melted

1 Tb. butter, melted
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1.75 oz) sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon (I like lots and typically use 1 Tb.)
1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup (4 oz.) powdered sugar
2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 – 1.5 Tb. skim milk

1.  Dough:  Put the dough hook on your stand mixer.  Add 3 and 1/2 cups (17.5 oz) of the flour, yeast and salt to the mixing bowl.  Stir that around on low.
2.  Turn the machine to low and gradually add the wet items:  milk, syrup and butter.  Mix for 2 minutes or until it comes together.  Knead the dough on low for 5-6 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the side.  For me, this took 4 and 1/2 minutes.  If the dough is really sticky, add another 1/4 cup of flour or so.  I did not need extra flour.
3.  Spray a very big bowl and put the dough in. Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise 2 – 2 and 1/2 hours.
4.  Filling:  Mix all the ingredients in one bowl.  Yes, you read right!
5.  Making Rolls:  Spray your 13×9 pan with Baker’s Joy or cooking spray.  Roll the dough into a 18×2″ rectangle.  The long edge should he near you.
6.  Sprinkle or mist the dough with water just to get it a little wet.  Leave the top 1/2″ empty of water or filling.
7.  Sprinkle that filling all over the dough and gently press.
8.  Roll up your rolls starting in the middle and working out.  Try to keep it tight.  Pinch the end to close it up.  Use dental floss or a serrated knife to cut out 12 rolls.  I like to cut the log in half, then those to halves into 2 pieces.  That gives you 4 small logs.  Now cut those logs into thirds and you should have 12 rolls that are roughly the same size without getting out a ruler.
9.  Put the rolls into your 13×9 pan.  Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise 1- 1 and 1/2 hours.  If you can’t wait this long, throw them in the fridge and make them later.  Make sure to cover them really well if they go in the fridge to keep them from drying out.
10.  Heat oven to 350.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
11.  Glaze:  Mix everything up!  I started out with 1 Tb. of milk.  You can always add more to make it thinner!

Light Cinnamon Rolls on Whisk Together 3

Light Cinnamon Rolls on Whisk Together2

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

It is hot like normal summer here (upper 80’s), but it’s close enough to fall I can validate making cinnamon rolls.  I loved trying the Bread machine Cinnamon Roll here which everyone says tastes like Cinnabon.  I’ve never tried them at the mall, but I’ll take their word for it.  Especially since it probably costs half to make a batch of 12 then purchase 1 cinnamon roll.  I also love the honey wheat bread dough I make in my machine for rolls and such.  Therefore, why not make the two together and throw some apples in there?

Now, if I were serving these to company I would have pre cooked the apples a little bit on the stove top in a little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  But, these were for just us and I used raw apple when making the rolls.  They were still delicious.  The apple gave it a bit of a crunch especially since I used Granny Smith.  I really like Jonathon apples in my baking, too.

I think these would be fabulous with some drizzled caramel topping.  If you don’t have or don’t want to use the whole wheat flour, these taste just fabulous as well using the plain bread machine cinnamon roll dough.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls
yield 12 rolls

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast


3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 and 1/2 Tbs. cinnamon
Optional: sprinkle of nutmeg, allspice, cloves or ground ginger
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped (It depends on you if you want chunky or small and thin)
1/2 cup raisins (optional, but tasty)  feel free to increase or decrease the amount to what you like


3 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/4 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Place the ingredients into your bread machine according to its directions.  My Oster brand bread machine has me add all the wet ingredients (basically everything but the flour) first.  Then, pile on the flour into a heap.  Poke a hole in the heap of flour and add the yeast into the hole.  Put on the “Dough” cycle.
2.  Filling: Roll out the dough into a 16″x21″ rectangle.  I always try to get it at least 12″ long to make 1″ rolls.  Brush the melted butter onto the dough except for the top 1/2″.  Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and any optional spices.  Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture, apples and raisins on top and gently press into the dough.  Roll like a jelly roll tightly away from you.  Cut it in the middle.  Cut the two halves so you have 4 pieces.  Then, cut each of those 4 pieces into 3 pieces.
3.  Place the cut rolls into a 9×13″ sprayed pan.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Or instead, put them in fridge overnight and bake the next morning.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17-23 minutes.  At 17 minutes, they were perfect and some a little gooey in the middle.  They should just barely begin to brown.
4.  Allow to cool and eat.  Or make the frosting.  Or drizzle caramel topping on them.
5.  For icing, beat cream cheese and butter on medium high.  Add vanilla and salt.  On low, add powdered sugar little by little.  Ice cooled rolls.

Skinny French Toast and Fattening Cinnamon Rolls

I love French Toast and Apple French Toast , but just can’t eat that stuff every day.  We used to eat French toast growing up for dinner a few times because that was one of the things dad cooked.  Since mom worked evening/nights 5 days a week, dad often watched us after school.  Aside from Chef Boyardee, grilled cheese, Campbell’s soup and Kraft mac and cheese, this is one of the things I remember for our evening meal.

Skinny French Toast
4 servings

8 slices of whole grain/whole wheat sandwich bread like Healthy Life
3 eggs
1 cup of skim milk (I fill my pie pan until it is 1/4″ deep)
2 dashes of cinnamon (about 3/4 tsp.)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. brown sugar

1.  Heat your griddle to 300 degrees or a large skillet on the stove to medium heat.

2.  In a casserole 9×13 pan or pie pan or any shallow dish, combine the eggs, skim milk, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar.  Whisk together with a fork.
3.  Dip the bread into the pan and let it soak on each side about 30 seconds.
4.  Remove bread from the milk mixture and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes.  It should be golden brown.
5.  Serve with syrup, powdered sugar or fruit.

Money Saving Mom has a recipe for cinnamon rolls and even though I love the ones on here, why not try a new recipe?  I don’t have enough people to do a side by side taste test of 24 cinnamon rolls total – but these taste really really similar.  So, if you don’t have bread flour on hand, these would work great.  I thought they were delicious and I bet that some icing would just be yummy!  The cinnamon roll recipe here has a cream cheese frosting recipe.  I love them with or without.

Cinnamon Rolls
serves 12

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour (I had to add about 1/4 cup more flour during the first kneading stage in the machine)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (optional)

1 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons (or less) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Throw the dough ingredients into your bread machine and hit the “dough” cycle.  Remember to check during the first kneading.  I needed 1/4 cup more flour for the dough to come together.
2.  Melt the 1 Tb. butter and combine the cinnamon and brown sugar together as well as cloves if you are using those.  It gives the cinnamon rolls a nice extra flavor.
3.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Roll out the dough into a large rectangle about…. 12″x16″ or so.  Brush the melted butter on the dough except the top 1/2″  Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture and press flat into the dough.
4.  Roll up the dough into a roll with the long side facing you.  Seal the dough at the end.  I usually pinch it a little here.  Divide into 12 rolls.
5.   Put the rolls in a greased 9×13 or in 2 – 8″ or 9″ round cake pans.  Bake 20 minutes.
6.  Drizzle with icing or just eat warm.

There was no need in this recipe for a second rise.  Usually my recipes call for one, but this one didn’t and worked just fine.

Recipe adapted from Money Saving Mom

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Something a little different for those fall mornings.  Delicious?  yes.  As delicious as my original cinnamon rolls?  No.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
yield 12


1/3 cup milk, warm to 110 degrees
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 T of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 tsp. ground allspice, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 dash salt
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1. Throw all the roll ingredients into your bread machine per its instructions.  If it is like mine, all the wet ingredients go on the bottom and the dry ingredients are piled on top in a mountain.  Poke a hole in the mountain to add your yeast.
2.  Put bread machine on the “Dough” cycle and step away.
3.  When the dough is all ready, rest for 10 minutes.  Flour your work surface very very well.  Or you’ll regret it.
4.  Roll the dough flat into a rectangle.  I usually just eyeball this.  Try around 12″x15″.
5.   Mix the cinnamon and sugar from your filling ingredients in a small bowl.  Brush melted butter on the dough and sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly on the surface.  Press it into the dough with your hands.
6.  Now carefully roll up the cinnamon rolls starting with the long side towards you and rolling away.  Gently squeeze the log together and form until it is more uniform.  Cut the log in half.  Cut each of those 2 logs in half.  Take each of your 4 small logs and cut those into thirds to yield 12 rolls.
7.  Place rolls into a greased pyrex 13×9 pan (or any 13×9, I just like seeing them through the glass).  Allow to rise 30 minutes.
8.  Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
9.  Cool.Frosting:
1.  Melt butter in saucepan or microwave.  Add brown sugar and milk.   Stir in saucepan on medium-low for 1 minute or 50% powder for 1 minute.  Cool.  Incorporate remaining ingredients and allow to cool and thicken.  Spread over rolls.
Adapted from Recipe Anatomy
Added to link party

Cinnamon “Roll” Biscuits with Icing

These remind me of Hardee’s cinnamon rolls without the raisins. These cinnamon biscuits are like a cinnamon roll without waiting for the yeast to rise, kneading the dough, etc. etc. I ate almost the whole batch the first day. Oops. Which is why I now weigh 1.5 lbs. heavier probably.

Cinnamon “Roll” Biscuits with Icing

2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. butter or margarine, divided
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 Tbs. butter or margarine, melted
2-3 tsp. milk
1/8 tsp. vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in 4 Tbs. of butter into mixture to form crumbs.
2.  Stir in milk just until the dough comes together.  Do not overstir.
3.  Knead 8-10 times.  Roll into a 11×8″ rectangle approximately 1/2″ thick.
4.  Melt remaining 2 Tbs. butter and brush half of it onto the rectangle of dough, but leave about 1/2″ on the long end without butter for sealing.
5.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the butter.  Press the mixture into the dough lightly with your fingers.
6.  Starting with the long side towards you that has the cinnamon mixture on it and the 1/2″ without cinnamon away from you – roll up the biscuits like a jelly roll.  Seal with dough with your finger tips.
7.  Cut into 12 slices with a serrated knife or use unflavored dental floss.
8.  Place biscuits into a greased 8×8″ square or 8-9″ round pan.
9.   Bake for 16-20 minutes or just until golden brown on the edges.
10.  Combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla.  Pour onto slightly cooled biscuits.  Serve while warm.

Feel free to double the icing ingredients.  I don’t like a whole lot of icing on mine.

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