Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School Caramel Rolls

When I was growing up my mom had a tradition.  She always made caramel rolls on the morning of the first day of school.  So after we would finish our normal healthy breakfast we'd get a little lovin' from the oven.

William is in Monday/Wednesday/Friday preschool this year so today was his first day of school.  Since I don't have a caramel roll recipe I made up my own because caramel rolls are forgiving like that.  They turned out great and they were so easy.  I know the first day of school is over but maybe you'll try them later this week or this weekend?  Here's the recipe:

For the caramel topping:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
couple handfuls of walnuts (optional)

In a small sauce pan combine all the ingredients except the nuts over medium low heat until melted and the mixture just starts to bubble.  You don't want a full boil, though.  Turn off the heat.  Butter a 9" round cake pan and pour the caramel mixture on the bottom.  Dot with walnuts.  Set pan aside.

For the rolls:

1 frozen loaf white bread dough, thawed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
couple handfuls of walnuts (optional)

So I cheated a little bit and bought frozen dough. You could absolutely make your own, and I've done that before, but I was pressed for time and didn't want to be bothered with all the kneading and rising.

So once you've got your dough, sprinkle a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Mine was roughly 12 inches by 8 inches or thereabouts. It really doesn't matter. Next, spread the melted butter over the dough until every inch is covered. With a knife or back of a spoon, spread the brown sugar ensuring most of the dough is covered. Then sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon and, because I love the crunch, dot the dough with some more walnuts. If you're not especially big on nuts, you may choose to skip this step.

Now, starting with the short side, start rolling up the dough jelly roll style. When you've got your log, cut it in half. It's easiest to do this with a serrated knife. Then cut the halves in half and so on until you have your desired number of caramel rolls. I ended up with 12. A fewer number will result in fatter rolls and a larger number will result in thinner rolls.

Then start placing your rolls, spiral side up, into the prepared cake pan. It's OK if they are touching each other. Just squish them all in. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel and place them in a cold oven to rise a bit. I let mine sit overnight but you could bake them after an hour or so.

When you're ready to bake, remove the pan from the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes. Less time means gooey rolls (yum!) and more time means crispy rolls. When the baking time is complete, place a large plate over the entire pan and flip to invert the rolls so that the caramel mixture is now on top. Be careful to do this over the sink or you might have flying caramel splatters all over your kitchen! Here's what my finished product looked like.
And here's what my four-year-old looked like after he ate a couple just before his first day of school.
And here's what my two-year-old looked like right before she got totally ticked off when she realized she did not get to go to school this year.

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