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Snow Day Cinnamon Rolls

Snow Day Cinnamon Rolls
  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Reserved) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • Plenty Of Melted Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
  • _____
  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Melted Butter
  • 1 stick Alpine Start Instant Coffee
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal. 

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown. 

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds. Make them for a friend today! It’ll seal the relationship for life. I promise.

Winter is here!

Winter is here!

I’ve been patiently waiting for the snow to fall. It seems like most states in the American West are having one of the driest winters in the last 60 years. This feels extra depressing especially since last winter was one of the biggest winters in the last 100 years with numerous ski towns hitting record highs in recorded snowfall. Growing up in Florida and focusing on climbing in my early years didn’t allow me to spend much time on the snow. In fact, I didn’t start skiing until I was in my late 20’s and it wasn’t until last year that I truly fell in love with winter. I tried to log as many days as possible - it didn’t matter if I was touring in the backcountry or skiing at the resort - I took every opportunity I had to go ski.

In an intimate blog for La Sportiva I recently wrote:

“It was as if I was cheating on my one true love with a sneaky snowy mistress. I felt weak in the arms and was only enjoying the kiss of the sun from my skis. I maintained a mediocre relationship with climbing only by a few gym days or hang board sessions a week. It felt stale; my 20-year love affair with climbing had become monotonous.”

Needless to say, I was really excited to ski! Since this season has already been so light on snow, and powder days have been few and far between, I decided to take advantage of the little early season snow we had and further my avalanche safety learning. I traveled to Lake Tahoe, California to take my AIARE Level 1 course at Squaw Valley with Alpenglow Expeditions. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it was time to begin acquiring more skills for safe travel in the mountains. I had the itch for skiing and needed to do something about it.

In recent years I’ve lost one too many friends to completely avoidable accidents in the mountains. Skiing is similar to climbing, it’s really safe until it’s not. It’s up to the participant to have “good” judgment and weigh his or her own risk to reward. The only way to do this is to constantly be learning and stay current with all the latest training.

The first day of the course focused on snow science… and this Florida kid felt in way over his head. There’s so much to learn - from reading terrain, to different kinds of avalanches, to the anatomy of a snowflake. There’s a lifetime of science out there and it’s easy to feel to overwhelmed. The course just scratched the surface of all there is to learn.

Learning about snow science was fascinating. I felt the most valuable aspect of the course was learning the importance of teamwork and communication. At the end of the day you can know all there is to know about the science, but it’s us humans that make the decisions. Choosing the right partners and not being scared to communicate is what’s ultimately going to keep you safe in the mountains.

I was warned most people walk out of their AIARE 1 courses simply horrified. It is a scary thought, there are so many things that can go wrong in the mountains and it is purely up to you to assess the situation and stack all the odds in your favor. Some ask why even bother? Why participate in an activity that has the potential to be dangerous? I don’t have a great answer to this question - besides I simply can’t imagine a life not spent in the mountains.

So be safe out there! Take the time to do your research, head out with a good crew and always remember - at the end of the day it’s supposed to be fun. Below are a few links dive more into avalanche safety.

 The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education 

Colorado Avalanche Information Center 

Alpenglow Expeditions 


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