amish-style cinnamon rolls.

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately.

At the beginning of February, my office started a weight loss challenge. Having been a bit more indulgent in the sweets department around the holidays than I should have, I figured what could it hurt?

Worst. Mistake. Ever.

If I noticed the slightest weight gain, I would promise myself I would eat anything considered “bad” for me until those few ounces, and then some, were lost. I started meal planning foods that didn’t quite appeal to me, but were considered “healthy”. I began to dread cooking dinner, and when I did eventually make one of those planned meals, I would dread the leftovers. This resulted in a massive amount of food waste and my monthly dining out budget being blown in a week. I weighed myself more in two months than I probably have in the past ten years. It took me back to my Marine Corps days when I would snack on only crackers and water days before a weigh-in to ensure I would make my weight requirement. This weight loss challenge began to consume my life. And seriously, as I began to type this, the MyFitnessPal app reminded me to weigh-in.

I’ve never wanted to be defined by a number on the scale. I’ve always just wanted to do what makes me happy. Whether that’s waking up on a Saturday morning and running a 5K or eating a cinnamon roll for breakfast on a Monday.

Like I did this past Monday.

Because these things make me happy.

Especially those cinnamon rolls.

Being raised in central Pennsylvania, I am by no means a stranger to cinnamon rolls. It’s a little area in the country where Amish establishments seem to harbor a secret rival on who can make the largest roll. I swear some can come as large as your head!

These rolls have a unique ingredient that make them superior to others I’ve tasted. This ingredient helps to give these rolls their light and fluffy texture. So light and fluffy, you’d think you were biting into a pillow.

That’s been filled with cinnamon roll.

And topped with frosting.

If you’re familiar with Amish baking, you may already know what that special ingredient is. If you have absolutely no idea, I’m about to tell you.

Mashed potatoes.

That’s right. I put mashed potatoes into your cinnamon rolls, and you’re going to love them. No. You can’t taste it at all. Fact: I told all of my coworkers there was a secret ingredient in the dough and not a single person could guess. But I did have a couple “this is the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had”s.

So, let’s throw away those scales and pull out the baking pans.

Amish-Style Cinnamon Rolls

serves 8

For the dough:

  • 3/4 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. mashed potato*
  • 1/2 egg**
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c+ 2tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl to your stand mixer), add the water, sugar, vegetable oil, mashed potato, egg, salt, and yeast. Mix thoroughly and allow to activate for about 5 minutes.

Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tbsp. at a time until dough is workable. Transfer to a floured surface (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) and knead for about 10 minutes or until dough is elastic-y.

Grease a large bowl with butter or vegetable oil, and place dough ball in, turning to coat. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for an hour and a half, or until it has doubled.

Punch the dough down, releasing the air, and place into a re-greased bowl, allowing to rise for an additional hour.

After the second rise, punch air out, and place dough on a clean surface. Roll out to a 12×8 rectangle. Rub the surface of the dough with the softened butter. Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together, and sprinkle over top of the buttered dough.

Roll the tough lengthwise, tightly, placing the seal at the bottom. Using a serrated knife, with a sawing motion, (or using a piece of string) cut the dough into 8 even rolls and place into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover baking dish with the tea towel and allow to rise an additional hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Once the hour, and final rise time, is up, bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine all the frosting ingredients into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl to your stand mixer), and beat until light and fluffy. Spread evenly on the cooked cinnamon rolls.

*make the mashed potato by cooking the smallest potato you have and mash it. Don’t add milk, or butter, or anything.

**to half an egg, crack a large egg into a bowl and whisk together. Scoop out 2 tbsp. or eye it and pour half of your egg (though I ever have success with this way).

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