Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls, US Army, 1943

     The US Army's approach to preparing many types of pastries was to use what was designated as the "Basic Dough for Sweet Rolls and Coffee Cakes". A rich, sweet yeast dough, it was simple to prepare, adaptable to field use (canned lard or shortening, powdered eggs, powdered milk and dry yeast could be utilized) and versatile. Many types of  sweet rolls, coffee cakes and donuts could be produced from the basic recipe.
     In this post I will demonstrate how to make cinnamon rolls. I will post coffee cake recipes within the next few days, using the same sweet dough recipe. The basic sweet dough recipe is scaled for 12-13 soldiers, with about 25% overage. If that's too large a scale, the recipe can be halved. However, this is one of the tastiest historical recipes that I have made yet. The only complaint I received about the cinnamon rolls is that there should have been more. The baked cinnamon rolls freeze quite well, and can be quickly reheated in a toaster oven or microwave.
     The weight of the liquid ingredients in the 1943 recipe was about 50% of the weight of the flour.  This resulted in an excessively moist dough. This was reduced to about 40% in later editions of the sweet dough recipe. After several test batches, I decided to go with the reduced amount of liquid. This produces a soft dough that is still easy to work with and not too sticky.

Basic Sweet Dough Recipe, US Army, 1943

US                               Metric                         Ingredients                 
8 oz                             230 g                           sugar               
8 oz                             230 g                           lard or shortening                   
0.6 oz                          17 g                             salt                  
6 oz                             170  g                          eggs                
1 oz                             28 g                             instant dry yeast                     
13 oz                           370 g                           milk & water*              
to taste                        to taste                         flavor**              
32 oz                           900 g                           flour    

*Milk and water may be any one of the following:
13 fl oz (370 ml) reconsititued (rehydrated) dried skim milk
3.5 fl oz (105 ml) canned evaporated milk and 9.5 fl oz (285 ml) water
13 fl oz (370 ml) fresh milk

**Flavor can be any of the following: vanilla, mace, nutmeg, lemon extract, or mace and lemon extract.

1.      Cream or rub together the sugar, lard and salt.
2.      Add the eggs, one at a time, and cream until well mixed.
3.      Add the yeast, milk, water and flavoring to the mixture.
4.      Add the flour all at one time to the mixture and mix well.
5.      Dough temperature should be 78º to 82º F / 26º to 28º C.
6.      Allow to rise for 1½ to 2 hours.
7.      Punch or stretch the dough and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
8.      If using the dough for more than one recipe, divide first and then allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls
For the cinnamon rolls I used a half sheet pan (18” x 13” / 46 x 33 cm) for baking. Raisins or other dried fruit could be added, sprinkled on the dough sheet after the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

One recipe of Basic Sweet Dough
¼ fl oz (1½ tsp) cinnamon and 8 fl oz (1 cup) sugar (Metric: 7.5 ml powdered cinnamon and 240 ml sugar)

1.      Roll out to a sheet about ¼” thick (0.6 cm) and 16” (40 cm) wide.
2.      Grease the sheet with melted lard or melted butter, making sure it is greased from edge to edge.
3.      Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and spread evenly over the dough.
4.      Roll the sheet into a fairly tight roll.
5.      Carefully move the roll to a cutting board.
6.      Cut the cinnamon rolls to approx. ¾” (2 cm) thickness.
7.      Place close together on a baking sheet.
8.      Proof (let rise) until double in size.
9.      Bake at 400º F (205º C) for about 20 minutes, or until they are a golden brown on the top and bottom.

Helpful hints:
A small sieve is useful for insuring even distribution of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Use a very sharp knife for cutting the roll. A dull knife will pull apart the rolls.

Icing for Cinnamon Rolls
US                 Metric               Ingredients
24 oz              680 g                powdered sugar
4 fl oz             120 ml              warm water
1 fl oz/2 tbsp   30 ml                table syrup          
1/2 tsp            2-3 ml               vanilla
Mix all ingredients together and spread over baked cinnamon rolls.

Greasing the  dough sheet with melted butter, using a pastry brush.
Note that the 16 inch (40 cm) wide edge is to the right.
Sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the greased dough sheet.
Rolling the dough.
The rolled dough is cut in half to make it easier to handle.
The rolled dough is placed on a cutting board.
Cutting the rolled dough into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices.
The slices are placed close together on a greased sheet pan.
The rolls are ready to proof (rise) until doubled in size.
The baked cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon rolls after icing.

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