Bring on the yeast!

Good morning, my dear friends!  You can tell it's Thursday because I am posting on the blog.  
A while back, I told you about the best cinnamon rolls ever.  With Easter coming this weekend, I wanted to give you the recipe, in case you are ready to make some!  I always make a nice yeasty bread for Easter; I like the symbolism of the risen bread pointing to our risen Lord!
Here is the recipe.  Get ready.  It makes 24 large rolls, so feel free to cut it in half if that suits you better.

Jailhouse Potato-Cinnamon Rolls
from Rebecca Rather, "The Pastry Queen".  Find it in this book.

Cinnamon Rolls:
2 medium russet potatoes
1 oz. active dry yeast (4 PACKETS.  Yes, you read that right.)
3/4 c. plus 1 t. sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 t. salt
9 c. flour

4 c. pecans (you can leave these out if your kids don't like "bugs" in their cinnamon rolls!)
4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 T. ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, (melted)

2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla extract

To Make the Rolls:
Fill a large saucepan with water and set it to boil.  Peel and quarter the potatoes.  Add them to boiling water and bring to a second boil.  Decrease heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until they are tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove the potatoes and RESERVE 3 cups of potato water.  Set the potato water to cool to 110 to 115 degrees; use a candy thermometer for this.

In a large bowl, mash the potatoes.

In a medium bowl, mix the reserved potato water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Dissolve the yeast and let it rest until foamy, about 5 minutes.  In a large bowl (yes, this take A LOT of bowls!!), whisk together the potatoes, 3/4 cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt and yeast mixture.  Add the flour in 3 cup increments and stir with a spoon until the flour is incorporated.  Place the dough in a LARGE, and I mean the very largest you can beg, borrow or steal, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  

NOTE:  KEEP AN EYE on the dough!  With all that yeast in there, it will most likely overflow your bowl, unless you have a really giant one.  Just keep punching it down. It will be kind of sticky.  Don't worry; it's all good and will turn out fine!  Don't let this dough intimidate you!  

After it's risen for an hour or so, punch it down one last time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  At this point, you can refrigerate the dough til the next day if you would like.

To Make The Filling:
Toast up your pecans in the oven for a few minutes.  Put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for just 7 to 9 minutes.  Careful not to let them burn!!  Now chop them up, in a food processor or just in a zip lock bag with a can of tomatoes to pound.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  (ANOTHER bowl!)

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half.  It will be  VERY soft.  On a clean, floured surface roll or press each half in rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick.  Be sure to measure with a ruler or everything will be ruined.  JUST KIDDING!  Don't worry about it; just make a nice big rectangle, not too thick and not too thin.

Get ready for the MESS!  Spread each rectangle with half of the melted butter.  Cover each buttered rectangle with half of the brown sugar mixture.  Sprinkle the dough with an even layer of pecans.

Now generously grease two 9 x 13 pans (I like to use the disposable ones) with butter (not a low-fat recipe here).  Carefully roll up each rectangle, starting on the LONG side of the rectangle!  Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut each long roll crosswise into 2 inch slices.  Place the slices, cut side down, in the pans and space the rolls so they have room to rise.
The number of rolls in each pan will depend on how thick your slices are.  I say, the bigger the better!

Set the rolls in a warm place and let them rise until puffy, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (how to you make the little degrees circle?!).  Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.

To Make The Icing:
While rolls are baking, combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.  Spread the icing on top of the rolls while they are still warm.  

Serve warm or at room temperature!


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