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Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans and Raisins   
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By Charlie Burke

My wife, Joanne, has had this recipe for
nearly twenty years, promising herself she would make them someday. That
“someday” came this Christmas, and the light, slightly yeasty rolls were the best
we have ever had. They are certainly over the top on the glycemic index, but for
special occasions and entertaining each is well worth its three hundred or so
calories.

The simple dough can be made a day ahead, and the flavored rolls can be
refrigerated uncooked in their baking pan overnight, as Jo did on Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning the house was filled with the scent of cinnamon as they
baked, and breakfast brought back childhood memories as this recipe found its
way onto Joanne’s list for special occasions.

Sixteen rolls:

5 cups all purpose flour (we use King Arthur unbleached AP flour)
1 package dry yeast (if available use yeast designated for use in sweet dough)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or substitute, such as Earth Balance
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, preferably Saigon cinnamon
½ cup butter or substitute
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon light cream

For the glaze:
1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple syrup or corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light cream

Combine 2 ½ cups of the flour and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Heat the milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, the butter and salt in a sauce pan over low heat,
stirring until the liquid is warm and butter is just melted. With the mixer
running, add the milk mixture and the eggs to the flour and mix to blend. Mix
on medium – high for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining flour slowly and continue
beating until dough is smooth,

On a floured surface, knead the dough until it is elastic and smooth. Form the
dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and
let it rise until doubled: 1-1 ½ hours, depending upon the temperature.

Combine the cinnamon, ¼ cup of flour and the brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in the
½ cup of butter until the mixture is granular. Set the filling aside.

Punch down the dough and place it on a floured surface. Cover the dough and
let it rest for 15 minutes. Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring
approximately 12 by 18 to 20 inches.

Distribute the filling evenly over the dough and then sprinkle the raisins and
chopped pecans over the filling. Roll the dough like a jelly roll. Cut the dough
in half and divide each 8-10 inch roll into eight pieces. Grease a 12 by 12 inch or
similar size baking pan and arrange the rolls cut side down, spacing them to
leave room for their rising. The dough can be covered with plastic wrap and
refrigerated for up to 24 hours and then brought out at room temperature for 30
– 45 minutes before baking or, if it is being baked immediately, it can be covered
with a towel and left to rise for 45 minutes until nearly doubled and then baked.

To bake, brush the surface with cream and place into a preheated 375 degree
oven for 25 – 30 minutes until browned. Place the baking pan on a wire rack for
5 – 10 minutes, invert the pan onto the rack to  remove the rolls and then turn the
rolls onto a serving platter. Drizzle the tops with the glaze and serve the rolls
while warm.

These rolls are truly delicious, and most of the preparation time is unattended,
so they are perfect for holidays or special breakfasts. Make them a day ahead,
and all you have to do is to put them into a hot oven for a special breakfast for
family or friends.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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