This week, I got to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen: jailhouse potato cinnamon rolls. The reason I chose this recipe was that I wanted to compare them to the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls that I make all the time. Lucky for me, we had food day at work on Friday, so I had a place to take them because if they had remained in my house, I would have gained 10 pounds and my kids would be on a constant sugar high. I kept a couple of smaller pans at the house for the kiddos, and they have not lasted long. These rolls are so soft and sweet and decadent.
I think the texture is not very different from the Pioneer Woman’s rolls, but these are a little more involved to make because you have the extra step of making the mashed potatoes. Of course, the icing is different too, but I changed it up a bit and doubled the amount, using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as inspiration. My changes are noted below in the recipe but I included the original recipe below as well. I asked a lot of people at work which recipe they preferred.
Some said they couldn’t tell the difference, and others said that they found these rolls to be more moist and still others said they like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe better. I think it’s a toss up as far as taste goes. These are absolutely delicious and are worth the work for a special occasion.
As everyone else in the PPQ group has said, the dough for these rolls is a pain in the rear end to work with. It is very wet and soft and falls apart easily. I always preheat my oven for a minute or so and then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise, since my kitchen is quite drafty. That was a big mistake with this dough.
When I went to check on it at about 45 minutes into the rise time, the dough had exploded all over my oven. I had put it in a very large bowl to rise, but when it reached the top, it just started spilling over the edges. It was everywhere! I probably lost about 1/4 of the dough. Even so, I ended up with 4 dozen cinnamon rolls from one recipe (double what the recipe says you’ll get). My advice to make the dough easier to handle is to really flour your work surface, hands, rolling pin, and dough as you work with it.
It really tries to fall apart when you roll it up, so be careful not to roll it out too thin to begin with. (I realized as I typed the recipe that it says to chill the dough and I did not do that. Maybe that’s why it was so hard to work with?) I really liked these rolls but I think I prefer making the Pioneer Woman’s rolls better, just because they are less time consuming and the dough is easier to handle.
When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make them in the evening and bake them the next morning. I have found that once you get the rolls cut and in the pans, you can cover and refrigerate the pans overnight and the rolls will actually rise most of the way in the refrigerator.
I pull them out and put them on the counter about 20 to 30 minutes before I’m ready to bake them. This always works like a charm and I don’t have to wait for the second rise time. Thanks to the Project Pastry Queen girls for letting me choose the recipe this week!
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
Reserve 3 c. of potato water
1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
3/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. salt
9 c. flour
4 c. toasted pecans, optional (I didn’t use them)
4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter, melted
Butter two 9X13 disposable foil pans by greasing using butter or Pam (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 4). Wash, peel and dice the potatoes and boil until fork tender. 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.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Add the flour 3 cups at a time. After the dough begins to get thick, switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated. Place the dough in a large greased bowl. 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 the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface and divide in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread each 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 serated 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. At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in polastic 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 degrees. 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.
*I changed the icing substantially. The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather