Thursday, April 21, 2011

Siehndel Family Cinnamon Rolls

I'm pretty far removed from the name Siehndel. I was born Kathryn Carey Walsh and I took Siehndel from my husband, Travis. But Travis wasn't born a Siehndel either. He took the name when his mom got remarried to Ray Siehndel, who adopted Travis and his sister. And unfortunately, I never got to meet Ray - he died the year before Travis and I met.  

I absolutely respect women who keep their names after marriage and I know of many good reasons to do so. A name is your identity. And for me, it was really difficult to give up Walsh. But I did it. Because when I was little, I liked being a part of the Walsh Family. I liked being identified with both of my parents. We were a team. Families come in all shapes and sizes. They might have one last name or five last names. And I know full-well that it's not the label on your social security card that makes you a team. But for me, in this instance, it was something I wanted to do. 

Sure, it's hard to pronounce (say it with me, sin-DELL), and even harder to spell, but it's mine now. And I'll tell you what: I. AM. OWNING IT. I'm flashing it all over town like I'm Kate Middleton and just got crowned princess. As far as a I can tell, I'm the only Kathryn Siehndel in all of America, and maybe the world (including all variations of Kathryn and Katie). Go ahead, Google it. Blog entries? Me. Lawyering? Me. Racing? Me. Articles about aviation and insurance? All me. 
The Siehndel matriarch, Stella, comes in at just over 5 feet tall and 94 years of age. I have no doubt that you will someday see her smiling face on a Smucker's jar. She lives independently, is in great health and still gambles when she finds the time. And she makes a mean, mean cinnamon roll. Her rolls will have you scraping your plate for every last crumb of cinnamon-y goodness (and if you're alone, don't be surprised if you find yourself licking the plate - it's ok, I do it too). 

This past Christmas, Stella gave me her recipe for cinnamon rolls. She took the time to write out the lengthy recipe on a little folded index card and I was really touched that she shared it with me (a third-hand Siehndel!). Cuz you know, some folks like to keep those things close to the vest. But not Stella, no, she wants spread the love. (And Travis' mom, also a Siehndel, gave me this green gingham apron that said " sharedbites" - how sweet is she?!)
Without fanfare, I will say that these cinnamon rolls are the best things I've ever baked. They are better than any store-bought cinnamon bun and will literally melt in your mouth. From this day forward, if I ever describe another dish as the "best thing I ever baked," just know that I am lying. These cannot be topped. Patience is required, as the whole process takes half a day (including rising time), but it is so worth your time. And then some. Maybe your first born.
Note: If the middles of your rolls pop up during baking (like in the picture), just push them back with a butter knife or spatula.

Stella Siehndel's Cinnamon Rolls

1/4 cup warm water
1 tbs. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
4 tbs. (1/2 stick) butter (softened to room temperature)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3-1/4 cups flour, sifted (plus extra for rolling)

4 tbs. (1/2 stick) butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar (use raw sugar if you have it - turbinado or demerara)
1 tbs. cinnamon

Icing (adapted from this caramel frosting):
2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbs. warm milk
3 tbs. butter (softened)
2 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
dash of vanilla (1/8 tsp.)

For rolls:

Stir tablespoon of sugar into warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast on the surface of water and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Yeast should foam like this.

Mix milk, butter, sugar, salt and egg with an electric mixer. Pour in yeast mixture and mix together. Slowly add flour until a dough forms. The dough will be sticky and soft (mine wasn't smooth). Place ball of dough in a greased or oiled bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours or until double in size. I covered the exposed part of the dough in saran wrap, draped a dishtowel over top of the bowl and stored in the microwave.

Remove dough from bowl, punch down and roll out into a 12" x 16" rectangle, using plenty of flour to keep from sticking. Spread softened butter (4 tbs.) onto dough. Mix raw sugar (1/2 cup) with cinnamon (using raw sugar gives an amazing crunch to the tops of the rolls - you can taste it through the icing). Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over buttered dough. Roll lengthwise like a jellyroll (so that you have a 16" roll). Cut into 12-14 slices and place evenly in a greased pan. I used a 9" x 13" cake pan and fit 13 rolls. Another option is to use two pie pans, with 7 rolls each. Sprinkle any lost sugar over top of rolls.

Cover pan(s) and let rolls rise for another 30 to 45 minutes. 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the outer rolls are just barely browned. 

For icing:

While the rolls bake, melt butter (2 tbs.) and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring throughout. Bring brown sugar mix to a boil and then remove from heat. Add warm milk to the sugar mix and whisk to incorporate. Set aside to cool. To warm the milk, microwave for 20 seconds.

Using an electric mixer, mix softened cream cheese, butter (3 tbs.), salt, vanilla, powdered sugar and cooled brown sugar mix. (Refrigerate if making in advance.) Spread over warm rolls and serve.

Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Rolls were still delicious after two days in the fridge.


  1. those look awesome! I will DEFINITELY be making these! You're a great writer, Katie! I see a book in your future! :)

  2. I totally agree about the name change. It was hard, but definitely something I wanted to do. I love that you are the only Kathryn Siehndel! Stella's cinnamon rolls sound amaaaaazing!

  3. Jeanne, I just hope Katie's book career doesn't get in the way of her putting delicious treats in my stomach.

    These cinnamon rolls were awesome - And thanks for becoming a Siehndel! You're pretty.

  4. nice post, Katie. When we doing some group cooking/photo shoots?

  5. Team Walsh took a hit but got massive return on the investment. My little cinnamon bunny

  6. KATIE! KATIE! I love the story behind these deeeeelish looking "sin-rolls." Perfect timing too, I'm going to make these for Easter Brunch! Thank you!

  7. Awww, thanks Jeanne. The first copy will go to you. ;) JM, "sin-rolls"-I love it!!!! Have a great Easter! Jon, we'll set something up soon. I'll have my people call your people.

  8. Oh lordy these look good! And I have all these ingredients on hand. God bless Stella.

  9. I loooooove that recipe card. I want those!


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