Yes, you read that right. I don’t just go camping, I go camping with style, and make cinnamon rolls on Sunday mornings when I’m out in the woods. Okay that’s not quite true, this is the first time I’ve tried these. I’m trying to be good about doing the daring baker’s challenge each month, and this month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!
After hearing that the challenge was cinnamon rolls, I started thinking of a good time to make them. A time when there would be lots of other people around (because I know from experience that I will eat all of anything I bake if I’m left alone with it). And cinnamon rolls in my head are something you eat in the mornings, a decadent treat fresh out of the oven while you’re still yawning your way into the day. Part way through these musings it dawned on me that I was supposed to go camping with some friends soon, and what better way to prove cinnamon rolls a decadent treat than to make them on a camping trip?
Unfortunately there aren’t really a lot of ideas out there for how to make cinnamon rolls when you’re camping. But while doing some research I did see a variety of little chocolate cakes that had been oven baked in orange peels. Which lead me to think…if I put my cinnamon rolls in orange peels, wrapped them in foil, and tucked them in the coals, they’d probably come out a lot like fire baked potatoes – burnt on the outside, but perfect on the inside. And as you can see below, that’s exactly what I did.
I followed the basic cinnamon roll recipe provided from The Baker’s Apprentice (by Peter Reinhart).
6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I used more like 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice from the oranges).
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
1 1/8-1/4 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
Putting your dough together:
1. Cream together the shortening, sugar and salt – I did this by hand with a spoon but a mixer works great here.
2. Add the egg and lemon/orange juice, mixing until smooth.
3. Add the flour, starting with 3 1/2 cups, yeast, and milk. Mix until the dough begins to form a ball.
4. Knead the dough until it is supple and smooth, but not overly sticky. If your dough is sticky, knead in more flour (I think I ended up with 4.5 cups total in mine).
5. Place the dough in a bowl (I left mine in the bowl I was kneading it in), cover with a towel, and leave to rise until double, approximately 2 hours.
6. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle on a floured surface, mine was maybe 1/4 of an inch thick, because I wanted thin layers to cook better in the oranges. The original recipe calls for 2/3 inch thickness.
7. Melt the butter and pour over the dough, spreading evenly.
10. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces.
Follow these instructions for camping rolls:
11. Place the rolls, cut edge down, in a large pan/tub and put them in the fridge (or in a cooler) for up to 2 days. I shaped mine Friday night to bake Sunday morning.
12. Take somewhere between 6 and 12 oranges, a hollow them. Do this by slicing off 1/4 – 1/3 of the orange. Then use a spoon to remove the flesh of the orange. Make sure to get all of it – the stuff in the cap as well.
15. Put your foil wrapped oranges in the coals of your fire. Rotate them every so often. I don’t know how to tell you when they are done…I pulled them out when I got bored. If they aren’t cooked re-wrap them and toss them back in.
16. Carefully unwrap the tin foil (it cools fairly quickly but you need a little patience), then peel off the orange peel. If there are any burnt bits (not covered by the peel), just cut these off. You’ll be left with what looks like the center of the cinnamon roll. We ate ours with homemade cream cheese frosting (1 stick of cream cheese, some vanilla, a little milk, and powdered sugar).
17. If you’ve used less oranges than you have rolls, reuse the peels until you’re out of shaped dough. They’ll get more burnt after a few baking’s but you’re not eating them so it doesn’t really matter.
If you aren’t “roughing” it:
11. Place your rolls cut side down in a greased baking pan with at least 1/2 inch between them
12. Allow to rise for an hour and a half, until they’ve doubled in size
13. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes – until the tops are golden brown.
14. Try to allow them to cool before coating with cream cheese frosting and devouring.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of cream cheese
Vanilla to taste
Combine the cream cheese and vanilla.
Alternate adding milk and powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency – a little more milk if to dry, a little more powdered sugar if to wet. I normally do this with a mixer, but it if you don’t have one, clean hands work as well.
These things were delicious. They got devoured by my friends, and totally made getting up early worth it. The orange peel didn’t add a ton of flavor to the roll (I’m actually glad of this since I was worried you’d get a pithy flavor), but the smell when you unwrap them is pure orange oil and heaven. I think next time I might do orange zest in the dough/filling, and maybe add orange flavoring to the frosting to play up the shell. This is a great one to try this summer with friends or kids – you can have them hollow their own oranges, saving the insides for fresh juice or smoothies, then stuff the rolls in and bake them themselves. Great for late night fires as well as morning ones. My only sad note is I don’t think these would work well backpacking…they may be restricted to car camping since they need to be kept refrigerated before baking.