I LOVE Caramel Rolls.
The smell of caramel rolls was imprinted upon my mind at an early age by my Grandma Jean. Visiting grandma and grandpa was a special occasion that my siblings and I eagerly awaited. We would wake up early under piles of homemade patchwork quilts and build up the courage to brave the icy wooden floors. Once our stomachs began rumbling around, we quickly found our nerve. Our little toes hit would hit the floor and send a shock running through our bodies; just in case any remnants of sleep were still hanging around.
On the way down the creaky stairs I always paused to peek out of my favorite round window that overlooked the western side of the yard, the chicken coop and the barn. Then I’d run the rest of the way down the stairs and throw all of my weight against the door, which had a tendency to stick and cause panic, terrified that I would be locked upstairs all day.
By the time we all made it downstairs, Grandma had already been in the kitchen for hours and grandpa was just coming in from the fields for breakfast. One of my favorite things grandma used to make was caramel rolls. Sadly, I don’t have her recipe; though I doubt that after raising 11 kids she had much need for recipes.
After many attempts and dozens of recipes, here is what I took away from each. Below is my favorite, healthiest, caramel sticky bun recipe I could come up with.
Pans: 2- 9 inch round cake pan, or 1 -18×9 inch pans (this recipe works WAY better when you use a pan with high sides, the rolls rise better and are much softer. Don’t ask me why this matters, I have used a high side cookie sheet (1/2 inch sides or so) and they turn out nowhere near as good as when I use my 9 inch round cake pan with the 3 inch or so sides. I think it has something to do with the caramel sauce bubbling up better with high sides, and probably about trapping the heat in better as well. Trust me, use a pan with sides.
You can buy 2 of the 8 large reduced fat (or not) buttermilk biscuits and use that, I have never done so, but it would dramatically cut down on time.
Otherwise Begin with the Dough:
2 T warm water water
1 packet of yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoon yeast
1 cup milk and 1/2 cup water, warmed to about 115°F
2 ½ c flour
½ cup ice cold water
1 teaspoon salt
2 T honey
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
Oil for bowl
Add the yeast to the 2 T of warm water in a very large mixing bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes to ensure that your yeast is active. Add the water/milk mixture then about 2 cups of flour. Beat on low for about 4 minutes. Cover and let the “sponge” sit for 30 minutes to 2 ½ hours.
After the sponge has sat add the salt, ½ cup ice water, 2 T honey, 1 egg and as much of the flour (1/2 cup regular and whatever of the 1 ½ cups of whole wheat you can mix in). Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is elastic, but not dry.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Let the dough rise for about 1 ½ hours or until double in size. Punch the dough down and divide in half. Let rest for about 15 minutes covered to make the dough easier to roll out.
While the dough is resting make the caramel sauce and prepare the filling by melting the butter in a small bowl and getting out your granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Roll our each lump into a thin, about ½ inch (z direction) or less sheet measuring approximately 12 inches long (x direction) by about 12-18 inches high (width, Y direction). Spread ½ of the melted butter across the sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar then roll up the sheet and cut into approximately 12 rolls. You will roll this up along the Y direction so that it is the 12 inches in length (x) and slice along the roll to make the individual cinnamon rolls.
Pour your caramel sauce in the two 9 inch cake pans or the 18×9 inch pan.
Place your sliced rolls in the sauce spaced evenly with enough room to rise (almost double).
Cover and place in the fridge overnight or let rise a second time and bake immediately after the second rise. Second rise is about 1.5 hours, or until rolls have doubled. If you place the rolls in the fridge overnight allow about 2 hours for the second rise the next morning. Bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes until the tops are lightly browned, checking at 20 minutes.
When the rolls are done invert them onto a plate and drizzle the glaze over them.
In a small saucepan combine:
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 T water
¼ cup butter
Heat until mixture is smooth, sugar is dissolved.
Pour into the bottom of 2 – 9 inch round cake pan, or 1- 18×9 inch pans (this recipe works WAY better when you use a pan with high sides, the rolls rise better and are much softer).
¼ c butter
¼ c honey
Cinnamon and Sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 tsp milk
Whip together until creamy, adjusting consistency as needed.