• xo Robyn

No Fail Cinnamon Rolls

The title tells it all.

Dough Ingredients- 2 tbsp active dry yeast 1/2 c hot water 1 tsp sugar 1/2 c shortening 2 cups milk 1.5 tsp salt 1/4 c potato flakes (opt) 3 eggs 1 cup sugar 6-7 cups flour

Filling: 1 cup brown sugar 1/4 c butter, melted Ground cinnamon (at least 2 tsp)

Glaze: Powdered sugar Water

Dough instructions: Dissolve the 1/2 c hot water, yeast and tsp of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Place milk in a microwaveable liquid measuring cup with shortening and microwave for 2 minutes. (Or scald them over the stove) Add the warmed milk and shortening into the yeast mixture. Add eggs, salt, potato flakes, and sugar. Use a wire wisk to briefly mix. Add 5 cups of flour and slowly mix with a wooden spoon until it starts pulling away from the sides. Add the remaining flour a half cup at a time until a soft dough forms that isn’t too sticky. Turn out dough into floured surface and knead for about 3-5 minutes until dough looks satiny. Spray the mixing bowl with non stick spray and replace the dough to the bowl. Spray the surface of the dough with the non stick spray and then cover with plastic wrap. Put in a warm place to rise. Let rise until double. Mine usually takes just 30 minutes to double. Turn dough onto clean surface. Roll out into a large rectangle. About 20”x 15”.

Filling: Spread the melted butter (it will be thin) with the back of a spoon all over the rectangle. Dump the brown sugar on the dough and use a flat palm to spread it over the rectangle. Add more if you need- but just do a thin layer. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the brown sugar. Roll up carefully along the Long side and then pinch closed. Cut into 20 rolls (I use a piece of dental floss to cut them) and place on a greased 11x15 (half sheet) pan. Press them flat with the palm of your hand.

Preheat your oven to 350F. The rolls will need the preheat time to rise again. Once the oven is preheated, bake for 22-24 minutes. Once out of the oven, let cool 10 minutes.

Then mix about 3 cups powdered sugar with about 1/4 c water and spoon glaze over the warm rolls.

Best Rolls Ever. Recipe can be easily doubled for great results.

xo Robyn

And if you love a good love story........

Here is some additional reading about the family history behind this recipe:


The presumed origin of Cinnamon Rolls is Sweden, of which, I have many ancestors.  But you can find variations of this sweet pastry all over Europe, down through France and Germany rank at the top.

And the particular recipe I am going to share with you today is from a woman that ultimately is the reason I am here today! I am going to share with you just a few tidbits of fun family history in addition to this recipe. WHY???? Because I have discovered through my training in Culinary School (yes, I did a two year Culinary Program) and from coaching people to eat healthier—- that the skill of cooking is being lost. More and more we rely on commercial bakeries and plastic wrapped packages and colorful boxes to deliver our foods. When really, you can make anything from “scratch”! And no—– “scratch” is not an ingredient. Some of you may scoff that I even mention that- but I have had a young mother ask me what “scratch” was. I am NOT kidding. And I have learned NOT to assume that people know anything about cooking any more!

But for most people, unless they have the opportunity or desire to attend a culinary school program, the art of cooking and understanding your way around the kitchen and making things from scratch are simply handed down, from parent to child, as just another byproduct of teaching by example in the family setting. What has happened, is that not only are families falling apart which is associated with people not having enough time to cook due to working long hours to make ends meet—- but other families that have the blessing of sticking together are so busy and preoccupied with the speed of life many parents no longer have time to cook and create their own foods for lack of time- relying on commercial fast foods to get by (And I don’t exempt myself….. there are DAYS……). SO—-> the art of cooking is being lost to time. That is the bottom line here. This recipe and way of life has been handed down to me, and I am perpetuating it today, right now, in my house. And boy does it SMELL GOOD!!!!


Onto the cinnamon rolls…….

Now, I don’t like the crusty on the outside, tender on the inside, heaped with white vanilla kind of cinnamon rolls……..

My kind of cinnamon roll is SOFT all over. Ooey, gooey goodness that just bursts with cinnamon and that yeast roll flavor and a hint of vanilla icing in every bite! My icing is a simple GLAZE you put on the rolls when they are still warm so that it soaks into the roll! Nope–no more trying to make the frosting last over the whole roll….. the ENTIRE roll is a treat from head to toe (well, if Cinnamon Rolls had toes…. or heads………)

So this particular recipe “takes the cake” for me.

Lets go back to the 1860’s for just a second, to where my Great-Great Grandmother was born in Bayern, Germany. Katherine Gessel Sheiss learned many great cooking skills, and taught her daughter Rachel the basics of cooking and making pastries after they immigrated to America in the 1890’s. Fast forward to the 1930’s, and Rachel became the mother of my grandfather, David Christensen who tells great stories of his mother’s cooking- including cinnamon rolls. Rachel and her husband Arnold Christensen raised 9 children in Cache Valley, Utah. Fast forward to the 1950’s, and David was living in Logan, Utah around the time this history makes it’s debut….. Dave was a muscular young man with a smile that caught many women’s eye— but he was just a touch shy….


Shirley Mae Hensley was also living in Logan, Utah and working at JCPenny’s Department store. She had a great friendship with a fellow worker, a rather bubbly gal, named Neva Anderson. The two had a great friendship, and enjoyed decorating the mannequins and getting the store displays to look “gussied up” so people would buy things. According to Neva, Shirley had a great talent for making anything look beautiful, and had an eye for great design.

Neva on the other hand, loved music and was known to go dancing 3-4 nights of every week and often would hold impromptu dance parties in her basement! She grew up on a farm, and dreamt of a day when her knight and shining armor would come and take her away and they’d dance through life! She also loved wearing the latest fashions and working at JCPenny’s was a good outlet from farm life. On Valentine’s Day 1953, the small farming community had a "dance & dinner celebration" and Neva was there (she wouldn’t miss one of those for the world!) as was her friend, Shirley Mae.

Remember David Christensen? The handsome shy guy? Yep. He was also there.

Shirley had met David Christensen a few weeks before, and she introduced him to their little group and he danced on and off with Neva, Shirley, and a few other gals that evening. At 10pm, the party was to end, but Neva, who had decided that the night could simply NOT end at 10 pm, invited a group to come to her basement for an extended party! David was included, and ended up at Neva’s house that night as well.

About half way through the party, David’s date had gone, and Neva felt bad that he looked so lonely, so she made it a point to dance with him the rest of the night. The next week, David asked Neva to go out with him again, and the rest is, as they say, HISTORY.

Dave and Neva Christensen are my grandma and grandpa, and they still live Utah at this time.

BUT———> What does this have to do with Cinnamon Rolls???

Well, it just so happens that Neva had an uncle, that was just a few years older than her (the youngest sibling of her mother’s, and as such they were pretty good friends) named, Ervin Anderson, who was also invited to that late night Valentine’s Dance in 1953. At which time, Neva introduced Ervin to Shirley Mae….. and a few years later Shirley and Ervin were married as well! Shirley embraced farm life, and decorated their upstairs apartment at the farm house “just beautifully”…. but what many didn’t know, was that Shirley was an amazing cook. When the families in the little community would get together for potlucks or other family gatherings, Shirley’s contributions started taking notice. Neva and Dave didn’t live in the same city at this time, but Neva knew that Dave loved a good Cinnamon Roll due to his mother's German cooking, and had heard rumors of Shirley’s cinnamon rolls from more than one friend back in the valley where they grew up…. so she called her up and got the recipe to treat her new husband! He LOVED them.

Fast forward to about 1980’s and I can remember that Grandma Neva Christensen ALWAYS had 5 gallon buckets of Cinnamon Rolls and Orange rolls packed for our annual deer hunt trips and Lake Powell, Utah family reunions. We all loved them, but especially my Grandpa Dave! And grandma still makes up a batch every now and then.

So ladies and gents——– that is the history behind these Cinnamon Rolls I just shared you. Without Shirley Mae, I’d virtually not be here since she introduced my grandparents, and if my grandfather hadn’t loved cinnamon rolls so much, my grandma wouldn’t have asked the amazing Shirley Mae for her recipe, and I probably wouldn’t have it in my possession today. YOU my friends, are LUCKY.

Here you are my friends, the ORIGINAL RECIPE (I’ll share my adjustments further down)

Shirley Mae Anderson’s Famous Cinnamon Rolls (This version of the recipe was written down by Shirley about 1985) Yeild: approx 4 dozen large rolls 1. In a large bowl, dissolve:     4 tbsp dry yeast     1 cup very warm water     1 tsp of sugar 2. Scald 4 cups of milk and add:     1 c. shortening or butter     1 heaping tbsp of salt     1/2 c potato flakes (opt)     6 eggs     2 c. sugar    10-12 cups flour

3. Let rise til double. Punch down, and roll out. Spread with lots of butter, cinnamon, sugar and raisins if you want. Roll up; cut with thread. Let rise on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

4. Frost with a powdered sugar frosting while warm and sprinkle with nuts if desired.

-Shirley Mae Anderson

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