The Mother of All Cinnamon Rolls

My updated sticky version
My mother made some amazing cinnamon rolls, so good, in fact, that I don't believe any of us fell victim to (aka in love with) commercially made cinnamon rolls. Cinnabon's got nuthin' on my mom.  Again, no real recipe was ever used, we all knew Fannie Farmers white bread recipe by heart, and it was a good base for a lot of things we baked. It was what my mom used for her cinnamon rolls. Any yeasted bread dough would work, and as I went on to bake on my own as an adult, I expanded my repertoire. In this version, I use a sweeter white bread dough, and add karo syrup to the brown sugar in the base of the pan.

Makes about a dozen or so rolls?

Bread dough:

1 Tbl. rapid-rise yeast (if using regular yeast, double the rising time)
4 Tbl. sugar
1/4 c. hot water (110 to 115 degrees)
3/4 c. hot milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/4 c. butter (or other shortening)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. ground cinnamon
3 to 3-1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 c. light karo syrup
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 cup whole pecan halves
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
1 cup raisins (optional)

In a small pan, heat the water and butter. Pour into a mixing bowl, and add the yeast and sugar. Stir together, and add the hot milk, salt and cinnamon. Stir well, and let sit for a few minutes to let the yeast start to bubble.

Add one cup of flour (if you want whole wheat, at this stage make this first cup whole wheat and then use all purpose for the rest). Mix well, I love using wooden spoons in mixing my bread dough. Add enough all purpose flour to make a soft, pliable dough that is not sticky. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. You should start to see bubbles forming under the surface of the dough.

Grease a large bowl, rolling the dough around the bowl to grease the entire ball. Place in bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. You can tell your dough is ready when you poke two fingers into it (Think Three Stooges) and the holes remain in the dough.

Punch down the dough, and place on a floured surface and let rest for ten minutes, I usually invert a bowl over the dough while it rests.

Prepare your pan, 9 x 13" should be about right. In the bottom of the pan, mix together the brown sugar, 6 Tbl. of the butter and the Karo syrup, and spread it evenly across the pan. Sprinkle the pecans over the surface.

When your dough has rested, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 16 x 10 inches. Melt the rest of the butter and brush over the surface of the bread. You can sprinkle more cinnamon on here and some sugar. You can also sprinkle on the raisins if you are using them.  Roll up the bread, so you have a roll about 15 or 16" wide. Pinch of the seam to keep the roll together.

Slice, using a very sharp knife, into slices that are about an inch thick. Place evenly across the bottom of the pan, on top of the brown sugar topping.

Cover pan with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise again for about 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown and the dough is done.  While rolls are cooking, prepare a cookie sheet or other flat pan that is just larger than your baking pan. Cover with foil, and use the pan to invert the rolls as soon as they are done. Place the pan upside down on top of your baking dish and hold it tightly in place. Carefully turn over so you do not get the hot sugary caramel topping on your hands.  If any of the topping remains in the pan, carefully spoon it out and spread over the rolls.