On a recent rainy day, I logged some time in the kitchen making bread. I love the take-and-bake loaves you can buy at ALDI's but I don't love all the preservatives that are in them. So, once in a while, I take the time to make some dough, bake it 90% of the way, and then cool and freeze it in bread bags. Tucked into the freezer, they are perfect to take out, pop into a 375 degree oven and finish baking to perfection (it takes them about 20 minutes to thaw out and bake completely).
One other thing I made was a batch of roll & freeze cinnamon caramel rolls. Again, these are wonderful treats to freeze away for the morning you want (need?) a sweet breakfast treat. Basically, you make dough, allow it to complete the first rise, then roll it and cut it as you would for sweet rolls. But, rather than allowing it to do the second rise before baking, you put them on wax paper lined cookie sheets and freeze like individual little "hockey pucks". Once frozen, I pop them into a freezer bag. When I want to bake them, I simply take out however many I need, left them defrost and rise, and then bake them as usual. They are a rich, sweet doughy treat...and I always make them with gooey caramel sauce! You could add toasted pecans or walnuts if you want, at the end (or during the final baking part), or you can leave these nut-free and entirely sinful.
Rich Cinnamon-Caramel Rolls
You'll need: 1 1/2 cups warm water; 2 Tablespoons dry yeast; 2 Tablespoons honey; up to 5 or 6 cups of flour (I use organic all-purpose whole wheat flour); 1 Tablespoon kosher salt; 1 1/2 cups sugar; 1 stick butter (cut into cubes); FOR THE CINNAMON FILLING, you'll need another stick of butter, softened; 1/2 cup brown sugar; 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg & allspice, if desired.
In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, dry yeast and honey. Stir to combine, allow to proof for ten minutes.
Once yeast has "proved", add two cups flour, salt, cubed butter and sugar. Place bowl onto stand mixer, attach dough hook, and start on low speed. Slowly add flour in 1/3 cup increments until dough comes together and is only slightly sticky. Increase speed to medium and allow to work for ten minutes. Dough should be shiny and elastic when kneading cycle is done.
Turn dough out into a large buttered bowl, cover with a warm damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise until doubled. Once dough is doubled, punch down and remove from bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a rough 9 inch by 13 inch rectangle, approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Combine softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and additional allspice & nutmeg as desired. Combine until soft and spreadable, then spread onto the rolled dough. Roll dough into a jellyroll/tube, long edge-wise. You should now have a 13 inch long tube of dough.
Slice dough into individual rolls, and then place them onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into freezer, positioned to stay level. Allow to freeze until completely frozen, at least two hours. Then remove individual rolls and place them into a freezer bag or similar freezer-safe, air tight container. Label with contents and date and place into freezer. Use within three months.
To bake rolls, combine 1/2 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar in baking pan (I usually bake 4 rolls at a time, so I use an 8x8 baking dish) and place in 350 degree oven until melted. Stir to combine well, then place frozen rolls into pan. Allow to defrost and rise, this takes several hours so I usually do this overnight. Then, after rolls have risen, pop pan into 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool for five minutes, then flip pan over onto a plate. The caramel covered "bottom" of rolls will now be the perfectly gooey top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, or serve with additional butter and/or jam if desired.