Melissa Sperka is one of the most popular online Southern home cooks, with her fan base stretching from her blog to her Pinterest page to Facebook. Now she presents a cookbook packed with over one hundred of the recipes that made her famous, including everything from hearty breakfasts to quick-and-easy family dinners. Melissa’s Southern Cookbook (The Countryman Press, 2016) is a labor of love, paying homage to those who raised her with a love of cooking, baking, and living Southern-style. These recipes hold dear the rapidly-vanishing tradition of gathering around the table for meal together. Every Southern favorite is here, and in these excerpts you’ll find the best: fried chicken with a crunch, BLT-inspired macaroni salad, cheesy spaghetti, and warm, fluffy cinnamon rolls. Try these comfort food from the comfort of your own home, and follow in the footsteps of Melissa and her family to start new traditions around your own dinner table.
Almost Famous Cinnamon Rolls
There are few things more comforting than the smell of cinnamon, sugar, and homemade bread wafting through the house. These cinnamon rolls are a cinch to make thanks to rapid-rise yeast, and taste very much like a popular cinnamon roll at your local mall.
For the dough:
• 2 (1/4 ounce) packages rapid-rise dry yeast
• 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
• 1-1/2 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 4 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 5-1/2 to 6 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading by hand (optional)
For the filling:
• 1/2 cup (1 stick, or 4 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature, divided
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the frosting:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 (16 ounce) box powdered sugar
To make the dough:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, granulated sugar, butter, and salt. Heat to between 110 and 115 degrees F, stirring, until the butter has melted. Do not boil.
3. Add the warm milk mixture to the yeast in the mixing bowl. With the mixer running, mix in the egg.
4. Begin to add the bread flour, starting with 3 cups. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Add 2 additional cups of bread flour. If the dough is still sticky, add more bread flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 6 cups total, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
6. Increase the speed of the mixer and knead for 5 minutes. Alternatively, turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
7. Coat the sides of a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled.
To fill the dough:
1. Punch down the risen dough and stretch into a roughly a 16x24-inch rectangle. Spread from end to end with 7 tablespoons of the butter, reserving the last tablespoon to butter a jelly-roll pan.
2. Mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the buttered dough.
3. Begin rolling up the dough from the widest edge, ending seam side down.
4. Cut into 24 (1-inch) pieces and place side by side in a buttered jellyroll pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the dough and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until rolls are golden. Remove from the oven and let the rolls rest while you prepare the frosting.
To make the frosting:
1. Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cinnamon rolls while hot.
2. Serve warm.
These cinnamon rolls may be made the night before: After cutting into 24 (1-inch) portions, arrange in the buttered pan, cover, and then chill overnight. The dough will continue to rise very slowly in the refrigerator. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour, then bake accordingly.
More from Melissa's Southern Cookbook:
Reprinted with permission from Melissa’s Southern Cookbook: Tried-and-True Family Recipes by Melissa Sperka, published by The Countryman Press, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2016.