Nona’s Cinnamon Rolls
by Erin Otto
We met Nona at a Wheat Montana conference where everyone was gushing over her cinnamon rolls because they’re made with 100% whole wheat flour, yet they’re very light and easy to make. Nona makes these by the hundreds to sell through her bread co-op in Colorado, so we were thrilled that she shared the recipe with us!
Nona has made up her own rules about what defines the perfect cinnamon roll.
First, Nona’s cinnamon rolls are cut thinner than most; only about an inch thick. Have you ever made cinnamon rolls that burn on the outside and remain doughy on the inside? Nona’s thinner cut means these cinnamon rolls bake up very evenly so they’re done before the crust over-browns. My cinnamon rolls have had a tendency to burn before they finish baking, so I was thrilled when this recipe came out perfect the first time.
To show off the cinnamon swirls, Nona cuts her rolls on the diagonal. They look so pretty this way, my family was hesitant to eat them when we pulled our test batch out of the oven!
Most cinnamon rolls are brushed with melted butter before sprinkling on the cinnamon sugar and rolling them up, but not Nona’s. She’s noticed that the rolls of bread hold the cinnamon topping in better without the butter. We weren’t sure we wanted our cinnamon rolls to hold together, so we tried one recipe brushed with butter and one without. It’s hard to say which ones turned out better, so we made butter an optional ingredient in this recipe.
Most important, Nona’s cinnamon rolls are unbelievably light and so easy to make because she kneads them in her Bosch mixer.
At Wheat Montana, we got to try out a gigantic professional kneading bowl, but honestly, I wan’t that impressed because my Bosch works equally well and suits the needs of a family much better than a bowl the size of a dishwasher! You can make this recipe by hand, but the Bosch will knead cinnamon rolls that are light as a cloud while you wipe counter tops and put your ingredients back in the pantry.
Nona’s Cinnamon Rolls
-fishing line, thread, or thin string for cutting even cinnamon rolls
2-1/2 pounds Prairie Gold wheat, freshly milled, or 9 cups Prairie Gold whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tablespoons fine Celtic sea salt or Real Salt
1 tablespoon gluten flour
1-1/2 tablespoons yeast
3 cups very warm water
1/3 cup expeller pressed coconut oil or other oil of your choice
1/3 cup honey
For The Cinnamon Filling
1/2 cup rapadura, sugar, or sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)
1. Butter two rimmed cookie sheets or line them with buttered parchment paper. The parchment paper makes clean up a cinch. Preheat your oven to low to warm it for rising your cinnamon rolls.
2. Place the freshly milled flour in the bowl of a Bosch mixer. Add the salt, gluten flour, and yeast.
3. Combine the warm water, coconut oil, and honey, and pour these liquid ingredients into the mixer with the flour. Knead until you can stretch the dough to form a translucent “window” without tearing the dough.
4. Round the dough into a ball by hand and place it in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place. You’ll know the dough is ready to roll out when you can poke it with your finger, and the indentation remains.
5. Roll the dough out into a huge rectangle on your counter top. (I didn’t flour my counter, and the dough did not stick.)
6. If you’re using melted butter, brush the dough with the butter, avoiding the inch along one long edge of the dough.
7. Combine the rapadura and cinnamon. Sprinkle all over the dough except for one inch along the long side of the dough. When you roll up the dough, it’ll be easier to seal the roll if the last inch of dough is exposed.
8. Starting from one edge, roll up the dough keeping it as tight as possible without stretching it. Pinch the roll closed.
9. Using a piece of fishing line, thread, or thin string, cut the cinnamon rolls 1 inch thick on a slight diagonal. Place the cut rolls on prepared cookie sheets about 3 to a row, leaving plenty of space in between for them to rise and spread out considerably. I was able to make 4 rows of 3 on my cookie sheets.
10. Your oven should be warmed by now. Turn it off, and proof the cinnamon rolls inside for about 20 minutes. Once they have risen, turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, just until the cinnamon rolls are slightly golden on top.