Friday, June 19, 2020
Food for Thought Friday / Foodie Outside
Cinnamon rolls taste amazing even after a full day smooshed at the bottom of a backpack. The sugar & carbs force your brain into focus & your legs into action. Added bonus: cooking cinnamon rolls while camping impresses friends, and sharing them over coffee brings on all the good feels. Food is love, right?
Today, I’m heading out the door with cinnamon rolls in my bike bag, first for my interval workout & then to the Juneteenth BLM protest downtown. During the intervals, I’ll ask myself something I tried to figure out while making cinnamon rolls: is calling Arizona home for 4 more months (until the Arizona Trail Race on October 22nd) even realistic? I thought kneading the dough for the cinnamon rolls would help me find the answer, but the repetitive motion of pressing into the dough wasn’t enough. I need the bite of lactic acid in my legs to help me investigate the question from every angle. It’s the only way of thinking that ever gets me anywhere.
But that kind of lactic acid build up requires carbohydrates stored as glycogen & turned into power for outdoor endurance activities. So, cinnamon rolls first, then my bike, then problem solving my life on my bike.
Two Cinnamon Roll Recipes with Coconut Oil Instead of Butter (a Healthy Whole Wheat Version AND an All-Purpose Flour Version, Straight from the Cinnamon Roll Gods & Worth Every Once of Refined Carbohydrate)
You can make these recipes vegan by using dairy free milk. Or, you can mix & match your diet, as cow’s milk works just as well. In a pinch, you can also sub out the coconut oil for vegan butter, real butter, vegetable oil, or even olive oil. If you sub something else for the coconut oil, plan to adjust the flour amount just a little. The goal is for the dough to stick together in a ball that can be rolled into a rectangle and then rolled up, over and over, into a log).
Why Coconut Oil for Camp Cooking?
Coconut oil for camp cooking is awesome because it’s unrefrigerated shelf life is longer than butter & it doesn’t form stringy, globby cultures like olive oil does in the heat. I once made ghee by forgetting about a tub of butter in my van’s food bin while living in Joshua Tree. This was cool, but I was also the only person brave enough to eat it. And olive oil with congealed globs, likely induced by a combination of bacteria & sitting in a sun-roasting van for too many weeks, always tastes a little off.
First, I’ll share the recipes along with suggestions for choosing one over the other.
If you already have a cinnamon roll recipe in mind (or any yeast-risen baked good recipe you want take camping) scroll past the recipes to the summertime, cooking-for-adventure instructions. The 3 different techniques for cooking cinnamon rolls to fuel camping and other outdoor experiences—in a GoSun solar oven, on the camp stove, and at home in a crockpot—are easy to follow with step-by-step instructions & photos.
Choosing a Cinnamon Roll Recipe, and a Summertime Cooking Technique, for Your Unique Outdoor Adventure Needs
If you want a real cinnamon roll experience, the kind where you feel like your sitting in your favorite coffee shop, use my recipe for The Best Coconut Oil Cinnamon Rolls. If you are looking for something healthier, but not exactly the fluffy-gooey white carbohydrate roll of your dreams, then I recommend the recipe for Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls. When going the whole wheat route, I like ramping up the healthy feels by adding hemp hearts and raisins.
I’ve posted the recipes first. Keep scrolling to find the 3 different techniques—GoSun solar oven, stove top, and crockpot—for cooking cinnamon rolls while camping or while at home to fuel your next outdoor adventure.
The BEST Coconut Oil Cinnamon Rolls
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk of choice I use canned coconut milk while camping
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- parchment paper to line pan, solar oven tray, or crock pot
- if not using parchment paper, be prepared for the rolls to stick, and plan to use a lot of cooking spray or coconut oil on the surface.
- In a small bowl, add room temperature water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Warm the oil on the stove, add the milk, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the flour to a medium mixing bowl. Make a whole in the pile of flour, add the water/yeast and milk/oil mixtures. Make sure the milk/oil combo is not so hot it kills the yeast. If you can comfortably keep your finger in it, then the temperature is not too hot.
- Stir the ingredients together. Then, knead for 5 minutes. While camping, I like to knead the dough directly in the mixing bowl in order to minimize my mess.
- Let dough rest for 1 hour. Covering it with a towel or put lid will hep keep it from drying out (and from squirrels tasting it).
- Punch down dough and knead for 2 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Letting it rest will make it easier to roll out and cut in the next step.
- Roll dough into a rectangle. While camping, a wine bottle, beer can, or water bottle works great for rolling out the dough. Spread coconut oil on top. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Starting on the end closest to you, roll dough into a log. Then, slice into 12 pieces and add the pieces to pan, solar oven, or crock pot cinnamon/sugar swirl side up. Lining the pan, solar oven, and crock pot with parchment paper ensures the rolls don’t stick to the bottom.
- If cooking on the stove top, let rise for another hour. If cooking in the solar oven or crock pot, the cook time is longer and this rise can be skipped.
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
- 3/4 cup milk of choice (room tempature)
- 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil slightly melted – when camping, leaving it in the sun for a few minutes usually does the trick
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 tablespoons yeast
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2-1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
Optional Filling Add-Ins
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- 1-2 teaspoons cardamom
- smashed banana
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
- parchment paper to line pan, solar oven tray, or crock pot
- if not using parchment paper, be prepared for the rolls to stick, and plan to use a lot of cooking spray or coconut oil on the surface
- Combine milk, oil, and sugar. Add yeast and let sit 15 minutes.
- Slowly mix in flour a half cup at a time.
- Knead for 15 minutes.
- Roll out into a rectangle. If camping, a wine bottle, beer can, or water bottle work great for this. If working in a small area, cut dough in half and roll into 2 separate rectangles.
- Spread coconut oil on rectangle of dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and any additional toppings.
- Cut into 9-12 pieces. Place pieces cinnamon/sugar side up in pan, solar oven, or crock pot.
- If cooking on stove top, letting them rise for another hour before cooking will make them lighter and fluffier.
Instructions: Cinnamon Rolls for Camping and Outdoor Cooking Adventures in the Solar Oven
I have the GOSun Sport, and it works great for any food (such as cinnamon rolls!) that can be shaped into an oval to fit the tube.
Step # 1: Line the tray with parchment paper helps minimize the mess and ensure the rolls don’t stick to the try. If you skip the parchment paper, plan to spray the tray with a lot of oil, and be prepared to peel the dough stuck to the bottom of the tray off with your fingers (this can be a fun camping ritual, just pass the tray around the campfire).
Step #2: cut the cinnamon roll log into thinner-then-you-want-to pieces. The cinnamon rolls will double in size in the solar oven, which means they could smoosh into the top of the solar tube.
Step #3: Place the solar oven in the sun. Cook time will depend on the amount of direct sunlight you have, the time of day, and the elevation. I recommend checking the cinnamon rolls every 15-20 minutes when in full sun. Don’t worry about a few clouds in the sky, the oven will still heat up. I have baked cookies & calzones in a thunderstorm, but it took 4 hours for the cookies and 6 for the calzones.
Instructions: Cinnamon Rolls on the Stove Top/Camp Stove (fried or baked) for an Outdoor Adventure Breakfast or Camping Desert Experience
Fried Cinnamon Rolls for an Outdoor Breakfast or Desert for Camping
Frying cinnamon rolls is the easiest, most delicious way to cook them on a camp stove.
Step #1: Cut the cinnamon roll log into pieces, & place the rolls cinnamon swirl side up on a plate/tray/cutting board.
Step #2: Let the cinnamon rolls rise for an hour once.
Step #3: Fry the pieces in butter or coconut oil on low heat, turning them over every minute so they cook evenly. I promise you won’t regret this technique! If you leave camp with fried cinnamon rolls as a snack, be prepared for sticky fingers & don’t do what I always do: forget about their greasy goodness & stick your bike glove straight into the bag.
Stove Top/Camp Stove Cinnamon Rolls for Camping and Outdoor Eating Adventures
This is how I made the batch pictured above.
Step #1: Line a pan or pot (it needs a lid that fits) with parchment paper & nest the cinnamon rolls inside.
Step #2: Cook the cinnamon rolls with a lid on top over low to medium heat. Check on them at 5 minutes. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the bottoms are brown. If you are gambling with medium or medium-high heat, check on them more often!
Step #3: Flip the cinnamon rolls. Use tongs or a combination of forks & teamwork with a friend or a kid (1, 2, 3 flip!). Or, when cooking solo, place a cutting board or tray on top of the pan/pot the cinnamon rolls are in, turn the pan/pot over and onto the cutting board, re-line the pan with parchment paper and slide the cinnamon rolls back in bottom (uncooked) side up.
Instructions: Cinnamon Rolls at Home in a Crockpot to Fuel Outdoor Summertime Adventures
Using the crockpot instead of the oven means you don’t have to heat up the house! It’s also much easier to not burn the cinnamon rolls on low heat in the crockpot.
Step #1: Line crockpot with parchment paper. You can also coat the inside with butter or oil (use a lot, & stick to low heat for cooking them).
Step #3: Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours & on high heat for 1-2 hours. Check on the cinnamon rolls every 40 minutes or so.
Eat a Cinnamon Roll (or 2) Warm & then Pack the Rest for an Outdoor Adventure
I’m off for some intervals with a few cinnamon rolls in my Rogue Panda Designs top tube bag (the Gordo version!). My plan is to ride to the Juneteenth protest downtown after the workout, and I’ll use the extra cinnamon rolls to fuel my 45-minute commute home in the dark. In other words, cinnamon rolls for dinner on my bike!
Tomorrow, I’ll be filling out job applications and meeting with my former mentors from Northern Arizona University. Saturday is my day off from posting. I’ll ride to my mentors’ house with cinnamon rolls (the Coconut Oil all-purpose version, made in my crockpot) to share. They want to know if I’m open to moving for a job, & this is a hard question for me.
The thought of moving breaks my already broken heart. Flagstaff is home. I want to stick around at least until the Arizona Trail Race on October 22nd. Dear universe, is prioritizing my bike over job security a big mistake? Is my life path to grow old, alone, with my bike, 20 cats (I don’t even like cats, please, let it at least be dogs), & guilt for mooching off my dad’s phone plan until the very end?
I’ll be back on Sunday with a book review of Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. In the post, I’ll share how I tackled my initial criticism of Doyle & her career in order to channel the book’s message about self-worth for Arizona Trail Race training. Life might throw another curve ball, but for now I’m trying to focus on training & all the endorphin goodness it brings to my daily life.