This recipe has been bookmarked in my Pastry Queen cookbook for a couple years at least. The photo of these always makes me pause and swoon a little whenever I’m flipping through the pages. You’ll have to buy the cookbook to see it. My photo doesn’t come close.
I find it hard to resist the sweet, bready, ciannamony, yeasty goodness of a cinnamon roll. My favorite rolls are at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas. They’re a totally different type of cinnamon roll with a crunchy cinnamon sugar coating instead of a gooey frosting. If you’re ever in Austin, you must go get one.
The problem with me and cinnamon rolls is the commitment (and the mess). Make the dough, let it rise, make the filling, roll and fill, cut and place in the pans, rise again, bake, frost or glaze, then enjoy…if you even have the energy at that point. And if you want to make these fresh for breakfast you have to either get up at a ridiculous hour or use some time management skills to get them ready for a morning rise and baking. So much work! But these are well worth the effort. You can even freeze them for later, which does require some work on the front end, but you get yummy cinnamon rolls straight from the oven without having to touch a bit of flour.
For some reason (could have been the 2 lonely potatoes on the counter) I just felt compelled to commit to these last week and am so very glad I did. I baked 2 pans of these rolls and there are 3 more in my freezer that are a mere overnight thaw and hour rise away from being enjoyed. Yes, this recipe makes 5 pans of cinnamon rolls. So make sure you either need to feed a hungry army, give these away as gifts or have room in your freezer and save them for later. Oh, and make sure you have 2 good sized bowls for rising. The recipe says to let the dough rise in one bowl and then divide it in half. Well, I do not have a bowl big enough for that and I don’t know who does…except for maybe my mother-in-law. So I divided the dough in half before rising and still had to use 2 of my biggest bowls.
The pecans are optional. I made one half of the rolls with and the other half without. If I’d really been thinking I would have baked one pan of the with and one pan of the without, but I wasn’t thinking. So all of my rolls with pecans are in the freezer. I am sure they’ll be delicious since most baked goods are better with pecans.
Using mashed potato in these rolls gives them a lighter texture than your normal roll. They don’t taste like potato. They are just slightly sweet, unless you drench them in frosting (like I do). If you bake and don’t eat all the rolls in the same day, cover and refrigerate the rolls. Warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to recreate the fresh-from-the-oven flavor. Store for 3-4 days at most in the fridge. They’re just not as good after that.
Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls
From The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
- Reserve 3 cups of potato water
- 1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
- 2 sticks butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp salt
- 9 cups flour
- 4 cups toasted pecans, optional (I used 2 cups and made half with and half without pecans)
- 4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Grease two 9X13 disposable foil pans (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 5).
- Wash, peel and quarter the potatoes and boil until fork tender, 10-15 minutes. After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet.
- Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon, and add the flour 3 cups at a time, mixing until combined. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.
- Place the dough in 2 large greased bowls. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day. You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.
- With floured hands, remove one batch of the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread the rectangle with half the butter, then half the brown sugar mix, then half the chopped pecans.
- Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough. Using a very sharp floured serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan. Repeat with the other bowl of dough.
- At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point. Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.
- Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.