My Life Monday: A Cinnamon Roll Story

When I got home from my quilt guild meeting on Saturday, I noticed a cinnamon roll from a local bakery sitting on the counter.

“It’s for you,” Mark said. “The boys already ate theirs.”

I held off for as long as I could, then asked Mark to split it with me.

About 10 minutes later, Robert bounded up the stairs, looked at the empty pan, and started laughing.

“Andrew just got done saying he hoped no one had eaten that cinnamon roll, because he planned to eat it tomorrow,” he said.

Andrew walked in and yelped.

I felt badly, and knew of just one solution: prove that I could make a better cinnamon roll than the local bakery.

I was armed with a recipe discovered within the past year. I had tried several recipes in my quest for the Perfect Cinnamon Roll, but until I bought In the Kitchen with Miss Margaret, my search had failed. Within the pages of this self-published cookbook I found the ultimate prize: The Lunchroom Lady’s recipe for yeast rolls, with a cinnamon roll variation.

Hello, Crisco, let’s get baking.

To make the cinnamon rolls, you first need to make half a recipe of “Basic Dough: Never Fail Light Rolls.” Or, you can just make a full batch and make 2 pans of cinnamon rolls, or 1 pan of cinnamon and a pan of plain dinner rolls, or you can throw pecan sticky buns into the mix.

Basic Dough: Never Fail Light Rolls, by Mabel Deffenbaugh (whose sister-in-law gets the credit for the recipe)

1 cup Crisco or canola oil, or 1/2 cup butter & 1/2 cup oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water (112 degrees)

2 (1/4 oz.) packets yeast

1 cup boiling water

2 eggs

6-7 cups unsifted flour, may  need a littl emore


Place shortening, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your electric mixer). Set aside. Place yeast in a 2 cup container with 1/2 tsp. sugar. Add lukewarm water and stir.

Add boiling water to sugar, salt and oil/shortening mixture. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool to lukewarm.

Add eggs.

Using mixer paddle attachment beat one minute.

The yeast mixture should be starting to bubble. If it’s not, you have used too hot or too cold water or the yeast is not good and you’ll have to start over on the yeast mixture. If it is bubbling, add to the mixing bowl. Gradually add 4 cups of flour, blending well. Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. Can change to dough hook.

Gradually add 2 cups more flour. Place on generously floured surface and knead only until it can be handled without being sticky. Place 1 Tbsp. oil in a large container and use oil to grease bottom and sides. Place dough in container and turn dough bottom side up so dough is oiled.

To make dinner rolls without refrigerating, cover container with a towel and let dough rise until doubled in bulk. Pinch off dough and make rolls the size of a small lemon, using a little flour on your hands, if necessary, to make them easy to handle. Place in a greased pan (do not crowd) and allow to rise away from any drafts of air, covered with a dry towel for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until double in size.

Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. This dough will keep 5 days covered in the refrigerator and can be used as needed. Take from refrigerator about 3 hours before serving time to make into rolls.

Basic Dough Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 recipe basic never fail rolls

1/3 cup butter, softened but not melted

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 Tbsp. cinnamon, more or less to taste

1 cup blanched raisins, optional

1 cup chopped pecans, optional


On lightly floured counter top roll dough to about a 10×20 inch rectangle. Spread butter evenly over dough except 3/4 inch at the far long edge. This edge will be used to seal the roll so should be left bare. Sprinkle dough with shaker of cinnamon until it lightly covered and then add a little more. Sprinkle with sugar, then with brown sugar. You may wish to mix both sugars and cinnamon and sprinkle on dough together.

If using raisins or nuts, sprinkle on now.

Roll dough as for a jelly roll, starting with the long edge next to you., tucking dough as you go to eliminate air spaces. Seal far edge only.

Cut long roll in half, then each half in half. Cut each fourth into 3 cinnamon rolls. You now have 12 rolls.

Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and place rolls cut side down in pan. Three across and four the other way.

Now you have 3 options: they can be placed on the counter to rise until double; be placed in a plastic bag, in the pan, and frozen; or cover and place in the refrigerator until 2 hours before needed.

Frozen rolls can be placed in the refrigerator to thaw all night and allowed to rise on the counter the next morning.

Remove from refrigerator and allow to rise until double. Whatever your choice, bake at 375 in preheated oven on the middle shelf for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Allow to cool 1-2 minutes and glaze or top with cream cheese frosting.


3 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup soft butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. salt.

Beat together, add a little cream if too thick.


3 tsp. butter

3 Tbsp. milk

1-2 Tbsp. light brown sugar, packed

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar, a little more if needed

Place butter, milk and brown sugar in a sauce pan over low heat until brown sugar is melted. remove from heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar. If needed, add powdered sugar until glaze is consistency of heavy cream.

Keri’s notes:

  1. I use Crisco. The dough is very soft and stays that way for a couple days.
  2. I use dental floss to cut the rolls.
  3. I use the cream cheese frosting, but I use an entire block of cream cheese, double the other ingredients, and have enough for 2 pans of cinnamon rolls to be generously frosted.
  4. I typically make one pan with nuts and raisins, and one pan without.
  5. I have made the rolls, let them rise, and then refrigerated so I could bake them the next day without waiting for 2 hours for them to rise.
  6. These are a lot of work and waiting, but they’re so tasty you’ll be ruined for store-bought rolls. Mark said to only make them on special occasions, or we’d fail to appreciate them. And gain 500 lbs.
  7. You could easily split the rolls into smaller, disposable pans and give them as gifts.

Curious about the rest of the story?

Andrew ate cinnamon rolls until he was nearly sick. He said I needed to invite the bakery folks over and give them a lesson.

As for me, next time I’m offered a cinnamon roll, I may just wait a while to be sure!


Author: Keri

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