My husband and 5-year-old son take a sandwich every day for lunch. Every day. That means every day they were consuming store-bought bread. And I bought the highest fiber bread I could find (because we believe in the value of fiber in the diet, just being honest). But it was still chock full of all kinds of unnecessary ingredients – the list on the package was a mile long. After spending half of a Saturday in a bread baking class with Troye of For the Joy of Food, I took the plunge and started baking all of our bread using freshly milled grains.
I learned so much from Troye’s class, but the main point that she made, and the thing that really pushed me over the edge, was that flour made from freshly milled grains is one of the most healthful foods you can eat. It is replete with vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, folic acid, fiber and protein. Commercially processed flours have had 90% of the beneficial vitamins and oils removed to increase shelf life. The parts of the grain that contain most of the nutrients are the bran (the outer layer) and the germ (the most inner layer), and both of these layers are highly perishable (they begin to oxidize within 12 hours of being milled, and are typically rancid after 72 hours). Therefore, to increase shelf life, commercial flour producers remove the bran and germ from the milled product and “enrich” the flour with a few vitamins and minerals. What you end up with, even in the whole-wheat versions, is almost an imitation of what real flour made from real grains can be.
So I purchased a countertop grain mill, and now I’m baking bread regularly – typically four sandwich loaves at the time. And I mill flour only when I need it – for pancakes, for biscuits, for pasta, for english muffins. For bread, I use a mixture of hard red wheat, hard white wheat, and recently have added kamut to the mix. For biscuits, I use soft-white wheat, and I grind it extra fine.
For these cinnamon rolls, I used my regular bread recipe, and them stuffed them full of butter, sucanat, cinnamon, raisins and dried apples. Drizzled with a glaze of apple juice, sugar, butter and cream (yum), they were a huge hit with the boys.
The recipe makes two pans of seven rolls each, so 14 in all. While it does contain a lot of sugar, I used honey, honey granules and sucanat, so they were relatively nutrient-dense sugars. And I feel good knowing exactly what’s in there and where it came from.
For a printable version of this recipe, click here.
- Combine 1/4 cup warm water, 1 Tablespoon honey and 1 Tablespoon yeast in a bowl and set aside to proof.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups hot water, 2 Tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 cups of flour.
- Turn the mixer on medium and add the yeast mixture. Allow to run until ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides if necessary.
- While mixer is running, add another cup of flour and let it get mixed in. Continue adding flour until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- When dough has formed a ball and is cleaning the sides of the bowl, allow the mixer to run for 12 minutes to knead the dough.
- Turn your oven light on. After 12 minutes, remove bowl from the mixer and cover with a damp towel. Place it in the oven with the light on and let it sit for an hour until doubled in size.
- This was when I dehydrated my apples in my dehydrator, but you could use store-bought dried apples
- Once dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times. Form a rectangle and roll it out to 1/2 inch thickness.
- Prepare two nine-inch round cake pans by buttering them.
- Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter, sprinkle with sucanat and cinnamon and distribute the apples and raisins evenly over the entire area.
- Begin rolling one of the long ends, forming a log. Pinch the seam to seal.
- Slice into 1-inch rounds and place them in the prepared pans, allowing room for them to increase in size (I fit seven per pan).
- Set the pans aside, covered with a damp cloth, while you preheat your oven to 350.
- Once oven has preheated, place the pans on a rack in the center and allow to bake for 20 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.
- While baking, prepare the glaze.
- Combine apple juice and honey granules in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until honey granules have dissolved. Bring to a boil. Make a slurry with the cream and cornstarch and add to the boiling mixture. Stir to combine. Once it has thickened, add the butter and removed from the heat. Stir to combine the butter as it melts.
- Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and pour the glaze over them while they are hot.
- Serve warm.