Some traditions are special enough to be part of more than one holiday. Caramel rolls are one of those, being requested for our Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas get-together.
Making these caramel rolls, however, does take some time and preplanning in some cases. Though you can certainly use homemade bread dough to make the cinnamon rolls, I chose to use the frozen bread dough, Rhodes. Growing up my mom would make the bread dough from scratch to make these sweet treats but even she used Rhodes frozen bread dough for a quicker version of these caramel rolls. Follow along for detailed instructions followed by the recipe.
You can thaw the bread dough overnight in the refrigerator or let it thaw for a couple of hours on the countertop. When thawed, stretch the dough out, spread on the butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Now you are ready to roll! Watch the video on how to stretch, tuck and roll to the end. (Unrelated side note: the music in the background is from the movie Bridges of Madison Country which happens to be one of my favorite movies to watch by myself!)
What good is a tradition if it isn’t passed on down to the next generation (or the generation after). Ever since our youngest granddaughter, Addison, was old enough to help me in the kitchen, she has been groomed to pass this tradition on. The first few years she would help stretch the dough, smear the butter and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top. But this year, I felt she had the skills and patience to attempt rolling the dough and even cutting it with a special technique. She mastered it at six years old!
The most important step in this whole recipe is the caramel. There are lots of recipes out there calling for ice cream, more butter, more sugar. I have cobbled from a couple of recipes and pared it down to make for one roll of dough/one pan of rolls. It can be doubled or even tripled.
Now the fun part! Gently smash the cut rolls in the palm of your hand to flatten slightly and place in baking pan on top of hot caramel. Let them rise to double in size. If you don’t want to bake them until the next day, simply cover them with Saran Wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. Be sure to get up early to let them rise before baking. To speed things up, I will heat up the oven and then it turn off. When it is just warm, I will put the covered pan in the oven and let them rise. It will usually take about an hour this way, otherwise it could take two or more hours on the counter.
When double in size or to the top of the pan, bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of oven, let set for a minute and then place a plate on top of pan and flip over to allow the caramel to drizzle over the rolls. Let sit for a minute before removing pan.
Probably the hardest part of this recipe is waiting to eat one of these yummy, gooey caramel treats. They are especially good with a dab of butter.