Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls (Old-Fashioned) and Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole for Brunch

My children (and the rest of my family) know that if they come for Christmas, and only at Christmas, they'll get old-fashioned cinnamon rolls baked fresh for Christmas breakfast.  Not the big sprawling gooey caramel-laden gobsters they sell at the mall; my rolls are white, light, and purely cinnamon in flavor.  A tiny drizzle of  light,  powdered sugar-milk glaze is all the topping they need.  My family also gets the standard egg-cheese-sausage casserole or strata--the same recipe my mother-in-law made (and still makes) for years.  I sometimes dream up a small variation (peppers or mushrooms on top) and one wild and wooly Christmas I made a different egg casserole all together.  Wow.  Outside the box for sure.  But what are holidays for if not for some sort of tradition (whatever kind) that seems to wear well from year to year?

To the side might be a fresh fruit salad, or even a big bowl of cuties to peel yourself.  To drink will be a gorgeous glass pitcher of kid-style--everyone likes it, though-- cranberry punch (cranberry juice and 7-up with a splash orange juice and fresh oranges, lemons, and limes.) Adults can doctor their glass as they see fit. 

Before that, however, a big pot of coffee is ready and stockings are looked into.  Some cocoa with peppermint schnapps or brandy are possible additions or substitutions for non-coffee drinkers.  Gifts are for later, though children might be allowed to open one or two while the rolls rise.  Basically, sustenance first.

If you're a food blogger, eventually (or even right away) your family and/or holiday traditions find their way onto the blog.  I've been meaning to get this up for years.  I've taken the pictures once or twice, but have never done the deed.  Despite this being way into January,  I'm posting it so it'll be done.   If you'd like to make an easy (not really fast) brunch this winter, here you are!    Pictures first. Recipes last.  Enjoy...

Do we get any?

The Brunch:

  • Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole

  • Cinnamon Rolls (Old-Fashioned)

  • Cut-up Fruit or a Bowl of Cuties

  • Cranberry Punch (Leaded/Unleaded)

  • Coffee and/or Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps or Brandy

The Day Ahead:

Start both the roll dough and the egg casserole the day before you need them unless you eat a very late brunch indeed.  The dough rises twice, so you need 3 hours plus mixing and rolling time.  I often make the dough, let it rise the first time, divide it in half (half for cinnamon rolls and half for dinner rolls or two batches of cinnamon rolls if you need them), put it in plastic bags and refrigerate it overnight.  (In fact, it could be done two days ahead, but no more.) Then I only need roll it out, cut it, and let the rolls rise (second rise) in the pan and bake them.  While the rolls rise, I bake the egg casserole.  It needs to rest a little before cutting, and the rolls don't bake too long, so things do sort of come out around the same time.

Cinnamon Rolls: 

See recipe and instructions below photographs. 

I make the dough now in a standing mixer (KitchenAid) and put it into a greased bread bowl to rise. But for many years I just did the whole thing by hand and so can you if you've got good strong hands.  (No big bowl?  Use a large pot and wrap it up in a bunch of towels.)  If it's cold, and the house is cool, I heat the oven to 200 and place the covered bowl on or near the stove for the dough to rise.  You want no drafts around this dough or it will rise too slowly:

Let the dough rise and double in size after you've first mixed it.

 After the dough's risen, I punch it down, divide it in half and place each half in a gallon plasic bag.
It goes in the refrigerator until the next day.  Leave a corner of the bag open to make sure the bag doesn't burst.  The dough will rise more in the bag (even in the refrigerator.)

Next morning, when  you're ready to bake the rolls, grease a 9x12x2 baking pan.

Take the dough out, punch it down to get the air out,  and firmly pat or roll it out into a rectangular shape using a rolling pin or wine bottle or can of PAM if you're really desperate.

 It needn't be perfect, but an approximate 11-inch by 15-inch rectangle is the goal.
Using your warm hands, spread about a tablespoon of soft butter over the dough.

 Sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture. (1/4 cup white sugar to 2 teaspoon sugar)

 Using your thumbs, begin to tightly roll up the dough at the long side.  Your goal is a tight roll.

 Once the entire rectangle is rolled, pinch the end of the roll into the rest of the dough so that the entire roll is sealed except for the ends.

 Cut the roll in half, then in half again, repeating until you have 15-16 slices--

An end might be too small to cut again.

 Places the rolls, cut side down as possible, in the prepared pan, spreading them out as evenly as possible as they'll expand when they rise.

These needn't look perfect; they'll all rise together and make a beautiful pan of rolls.
Let the rolls rise to fill the pan--30-60 minutes, depending on how warm your room is.  You can put them in a hot oven for a minute or two to "push" the rise, pull them out,  and then cover them while they sit on the stove.  That'll save a bit of time.  However you do it, you want the rolls to rise in a warm spot, not a cold one.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the rolls about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown nicely.

 While the rolls bake, mix up a glaze (see icing recipe below)...and.......

 Drizzle the rolls with a tiny bit of glaze while hot.

Serve with the Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole, of course.

Cinnamon Rolls--Courtesy early '70's Betty Crocker Sweet Roll Dough:
     use half of this dough for 1 pan of cinnamon rolls ...  or all of it for two pans ... or 1/2 for cinnamon rolls (15)
                    and 1/2 for 12-16 dinner rolls, depending on the style and size 

1/2 cup water warm to the touch (test it on your wrist--you want it warm like a baby's bottle--any
           warmer and it'll kill the yeast.)
2 packages dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons
1/2 cup just barely warm milk
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons butter, soft
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, divided

original directions:
Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, and eggs.  Mix well.  Beat in 2 1/2 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Mix in enough additional flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  (At this point, dough can be refrigerated 3-4 days.)  Cover; let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  (Dough is ready if impression remains when touched.)

Punch down dough.  Shape dough into desired rolls or coffee cakes.  Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.   Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake as directed.

This dough could the be made into cinnamon rolls, frosted orange rolls, chocolate cinnamon rolls, butterfly rolls, cheese diamonds,  balloon buns, or various coffee cakes.

For cinnamon rolls:
  • 1/2 recipe dough
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/4 cup (white granulated) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla together until smooth. 

  1. Roll out dough into rectangle, 15x9 inches, spread with butter.  Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle.  Roll up, beginning at wide side.  Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well.  Stretch roll to make even.
  2. Cut roll into 15 slices.  Place slightly apart in greased baking pan, 13x9x2 inches or in greased muffin cups.  Let rise until double.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  (I find this is too long; I like my rolls less crispy.) While warm, frost rolls with icing.

For crescent dinner rolls, using the other half of the dough:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Take the other half of the dough and roll it into a large circle, about 12" in diameter.  Spread with soft butter.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Roll up, beginning at rounded edge.  Place rolls, with point underneath (or pinch points into body of roll), on greased baking sheet.  Brush with butter.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden.

egg-cheese-sausage casserole
6-8 servings
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 slices bread, cubed
  • 1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar (or other) cheese   
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Beat together milk, eggs, mustard, and salt.  Stir in bread, sausage and cheese.  Pour into 2 quart rectangular casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible.  Remove from refrigerator.   Bake 45 minutes or until firm, golden, and crispy at the edges.  Remove and let sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Variation:  After preparing casserole and before baking, top with 1/4 cup each chopped onions, mushrooms, and red bell peppers.  Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.
You can also use ham or cooked, chopped bacon instead of sausage.  Other options are to stir in 2-3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a clove or two of chopped garlic that you have lightly sauteed beforehand.  I have also added chopped green chiles once or twice!

Sing a new song,


  1. I can't wait to try these! Did you have to make any adjustments to the dough when you lived out here due to the high altitude?


  2. Hey, Helen!
    They are wonderful rolls and the recipe worked fine at altitude, though the dough rose more quickly in C/S than here in Saint Paul. If your dough rises way fast, cut the yeast a little (25%) and increase the salt a tiny bit. Hugs.


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