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One great roll recipe served three ways

Dec 1st, 2012 | Category: Cooking

by Tina Hoban

My mom has been making the same crescent roll recipe for as long as I can remember. I think the recipe was handed down to her from her aunt. Everybody loves them. They are rich and buttery, slightly sweet, and best of all… relatively easy! Both my sister and I have carried on the tradition of making them for our families.

Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon and sugar, followed by the nuts and cherries. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

But this year, as I was rolling out a batch for our Thanksgiving table, it occurred to me that this dough would be a great base for cinnamon rolls. The experimenting began. I made plain cinnamon rolls, I made cinnamon rolls with nuts and cherries, I made orange rolls. I felt like I had hit the jackpot! I now have one “go to” roll recipe that can be served at dinner or transformed into a number of drool-worthy breakfast creations.

The method for mixing the dough is far less fussy than the brioche dough, which I used to use as a base for my rolls, and that is a big plus for me. As my kids get older and my life gets busier, I find myself trying to find acceptable shortcuts for my home baking endeavors, and these recipes fit into that category. The dough is mixed in one bowl, with no mixer required. It does, however, require a little planning in order to give the dough time to rise before baking.

One thing to note: I call for using instant yeast in the recipe. I use a brand called SAF, which can now be found at many grocery stores. Its main advantage is that it does not need to be “activated”, like active dry yeast does. You simply add it with your dry ingredients and mix as usual. Voila!

Ready for the oven.

So turn on the ovens and let the baking begin… it’s cold outside!

Basic Roll Dough


1 cup milk

1/2 cup (one stick) butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast*


Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts.  Remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool until lukewarm.

In a large bowl, combine the salt, sugar and cooled milk.  Stir in the beaten eggs and stir again.  Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon.

Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubles in bulk (about an hour).

The dough is now ready to be formed into crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls or orange rolls.

The dough may also be refrigerated overnight or for up to 3 days before using.

* If you can’t find instant yeast, you may use 1 packet of active dry yeast. Sprinkle the yeast over 3 Tablespoons of lukewarm water and let it sit for a few minutes. Add the yeast with the liquid ingredients.

Fresh baked rolls topped with icing.

Cinnamon rolls


1 recipe Basic Roll Dough

6 Tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup walnuts and/or pecans , finely chopped (optional)

1 cup dried cherries, finely chopped (optional)


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons milk


On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 14” x 18”, keeping the long side facing you. Brush the dough with the melted butter.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon and sugar, followed by the nuts and cherries.

Carefully roll the dough into a tight cylinder, pinching the long edge together to make a seam.

Cut the cylinder into slices, about 1 1/2” thick and place, cut side down into a greased 9” x 13” pan.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for about an hour. (Rolls can be refrigerated at this point for baking in the morning).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

To make the icing:  Stir all of the icing ingredients together in a medium bowl. When the cinnamon rolls have cooled slightly, spread the icing over each.

Orange Roll Variation: Substitute 1 cup brown sugar and 3 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest for the cinnamon mixture. Omit nuts and cherries.

Icing: mix together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon orange zest, and 2 Tablespoons orange juice.

Crescent rolls


1 recipe Basic Roll Dough

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter


Divide the dough into two balls.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a round, about 1/8” to 1/4” thick.  Spread each round with a layer of butter.

Cut the rounds, pizza style, into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece, starting at the wide end of the triangle.

Move the rolls onto a greased baking sheet, pulling the ends together to make a crescent shape.  Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for about three hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Bake for 6 minutes, or until deeply browned.

Warm rolls may be brushed with a little melted butter.

Published in the December 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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