Roll Out of Bed
Good news: Long-held traditions don’t have to take a long time! If Christmas morning sweet rolls are a must (or soon-to-be must) in your home, we’ll show you how to pull a batch of hot and fresh, ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls from the oven in a fraction of the time. Whether you want to make from-scratch sweet buns or use store-bought dough to get things started, remember these tricks come holiday season, and you’ll be rolling out of bed just in time for a treat.
KNOW YOUR YEAST
Traditional recipes for cinnamon rolls can take hours to prepare. In most cases, they call for active dry or instant active dry yeast—but don’t let the word “instant” fool you. The difference is that instant active dry yeast does not need to be dissolved in water first, like its non-instant counterpart. Both kinds still require two separate time-consuming rises for the dough.
To shortcut the rising process, look for recipes that call for rapid-rise yeast. This allows you to skip the first rise and shape your dough immediately after mixing it. That means you could have cinnamon rolls ready in just 1 hour. If you like the sound of that, try this quick recipe from Gimme Some Oven. They are just as buttery, just as flaky and just as yummy as the kind that requires so much time to make. Your friends and family will love them—and you’ll be adding them to your must-make recipe collection, guaranteed!
READY IN A FLASH
Make sure you stock up on tubes of crescent roll or biscuit dough before the holidays hit. In the morning, when the kids are begging to open presents before the coffee even finishes brewing, you’ll be happy to know you can whip up a tastes-like-homemade treat in no time.
With crescent roll dough, if you’ve got butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla—and 15 minutes to spare—you’re in luck. Use this handy little recipe for Crescent Cinnamon Rolls from The Hungry Housewife —an ultra-quick and delicious option for any occasion.
Store-bought biscuit dough to the rescue! You can make classic sticky buns—the kind that are smothered in caramel sauce and toasted pecans—in less than an hour using premade biscuit dough. By browning butter, sugar and corn syrup, you’ll be stirring up your own lip-smacking caramel to complete these super-easy Cinnamon Sticky Buns from Taste of Home.
Want to pull out all the stops for a holiday morning treat? Here’s how you can get a head start on your family’s favorite from-scratch cinnamon roll recipe. (If you don’t have your own, our recipe for Irish Cream Cinnamon Rolls is a must-try!) The night before, prepare your dough. After the first rise, punch it down, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, your dough will be ready to roll!
THE FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND
When it comes to freezing sweet rolls, you have a couple options. If you’re a sucker for that fresh-from-the-oven aroma and buttery texture, you’ll want to make note of the prebaking method. Here’s how it works: Follow your favorite from-scratch cinnamon roll recipe just until the rolls are ready to be baked, then only bake them for about 10 minutes—until the rolls have risen but are not browning. At this point, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely in the pan. Then place the entire pan in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 weeks. The night before you want your homemade treats, place the rolls in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. In the morning, set the oven to 350°F; remove the pan from the bag and bake uncovered until the rolls are golden brown. You’ll be ready to roll as soon as they come out of the oven.
Alternatively, you can bake the rolls completely before freezing them. After they cool, remove the rolls from the pan and place them (unfrosted) in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to dig in, thaw the rolls at room temperature and frost as desired.
Game to dress up your baked treats? Never shy away from new and exciting flavor variations, especially for gift giving. Here are a few ways to customize your edible packages to suit the tastes of someone special.
For the filling…
- Get festive by adding cranberry sauce and pistachios.
- Swirl in seasonal flavor with a little pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice.
- Go tropical by adding dried pineapple and toasted coconut.
- Have some fun with good old-fashioned colored sprinkles.
- Chocolate lovers will appreciate mini chocolate chips. Or spread on some Nutella—yum!
For the glaze or frosting…
- Change up the flavors by using almond, maple or rum extract instead of vanilla.
- Add citrus to your icing by stirring in some grated lemon or orange peel, along with a splash of juice.
- Spice up your glaze with seasonings like nutmeg, cloves and ginger (our favorite!).
- For dough that’s easier to roll out, let it rest for 10 minutes after punching it down. This allows the dough to relax.
- When rolling up dough for cinnamon rolls, make sure you do so firmly. If the dough’s too loose, you’ll see air pockets or holes when you cut into it.
- Place rolls in the pan so they are spaced evenly and with a little breathing room. This allows space for the final rise.