Cinnamon rolls take center stage

Judith Fertig's mini cinnamon rolls rise before baking.MCT

In fall 2011, cookbook author Judith Fertig took on an ambitious assignment: Write a book of cinnamon-roll recipes in 60 days.

Fertig loves cinnamon rolls, and she's authored more than 20 cookbooks on everything from bread to barbecue. Still, this was no easy task.


Everyone loves the sweet breakfast pastry, but not everyone is willing to put in the time it takes to whip up a batch from scratch. These tips from "I Love Cinnamon Rolls" author Judith Fertig save time and headaches.

  • Skip the proofing step by using instant (or bread-machine) yeast instead of active dry yeast.
  • Stock up on boxes of hot roll mix, which contains flour, dry milk, salt and instant yeast, then follow Fertig's recipe for Easy Cinnamon Roll Dough to have rolls ready in about two hours.
  • Invest in a Danish dough whisk. The stickiest dough won't get stuck in this $10 tool, which has two stiff metal loops.
  • Use a serrated knife to cut cylinders of dough into rolls without smashing their round shape.
  • Mix dough the night before, let it rise, then store it in the fridge until morning. "The cold makes yeast go into hibernation," Fertig explains.
  • Bake and cool a batch of cinnamon rolls, then stash them in the freezer. Next time you want cinnamon rolls, warm them in the oven and apply your favorite icing.

The expert baker holed up in her Overland Park, Kan., kitchen with colossal amounts of flour, butter and sugar. She gathered four kinds of cinnamon and started rolling it into swirls of every shape and size. Her overworked oven churned out all kinds of crave-worthy creations: Carrot-Cake Cinnamon Rolls With Pineapple-Cream Cheese Frosting. Mexican-Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls spiked with ancho chili. Moroccan-inspired crescents filled with black pepper and rose petals.

Fertig would taste each one, then hand out leftovers to neighbors, friends and family members. "I was very popular for a while," she says.

At the end of those two months, Fertig had lots of new friends and another cookbook: "I Love Cinnamon Rolls!" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012).

The book has everything from traditional sticky buns to gluten-free rolls. The recipes are customizable, so you easily change out the dough, filling, pan sauce or topping.

"I'm a mix-and-match person," Fertig says.

Fertig says she wanted the recipes to be flexible because everyone has his or her own version of the perfect cinnamon roll.

Here in the Midwest, she says, we like our cinnamon rolls soft and feathery, with lots of gooey frosting on top. On the East Coast, people prefer sticky buns. In Colorado, it's not a cinnamon roll unless it's as big as a plate, and in the Northwest, vegan rolls are all the rage.

Don't even get Fertig started on all the different kinds of rolls Europeans like.

As for the cookbook author, she's a native Midwesterner, so it's no surprise she likes cinnamon rolls that are soft and gooey, filled with lots of mouthwatering brown sugar and warm cinnamon.

"If you're going to have a cinnamon roll," Fertig says, "have a cinnamon roll."

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