Monday, January 6, 2014

north dakota caramel rolls

Stop whatever you are doing and make these right now. I'm not usually this bossy (ok, sometimes I am), but these are just that good.

Caramel rolls are nothing new, but you haven't lived until you've had one from North Dakota. I'm not sure of their origin - maybe a midwestern thing? - but I've only ever had them (or at least had them this good) in North Dakota. In my hometown of Williston, the best ones were at Dakota Farms or Grandma Sharon's. If you didn't get there early, you didn't get one.

The North Dakota caramel (car-mel) roll is light and fluffy in texture, but not excessively tall. They come flat and large. A good one will barely fit on a salad plate. Caramel roll > salad. They are devoid of nuts, light on cinnamon and heavy on soft, creamy caramel. It's decidedly not a cinnamon roll or a sticky bun, which is what you'll find 99% of the time if you order a caramel roll at a bakery or restaurant. Huge disappointment.

This recipe came to my attention via Karen Riekeman - a sweet family friend. I want to say she got it from the North Dakota wheat growers association or something else wheat-related and official like that. I should start telling little stories to go with my recipes. Here is one of my favorites on Karen:

Her husband, my pastor at First Baptist Williston, officiated our wedding. Apparently, he brought a red (I think?) tie to wear. Afraid it would clash with our muted color scheme, Karen made a last minute trip to Walmart (the only shop in town) to get him a tie that would blend in better with our wedding photos. The red really wouldn't have bothered me, but you know you have a good friend when it bothered her!

I've adapted the recipe by using rapid rise yeast (ain't nobody got time for a double rise), doubling the caramel sauce, and a few other little changes here and there. These don't get quite as big as the ones from home, but Grandma Sharon won't share her recipe with me. These come pretty darn close in taste, though!


North Dakota Caramel Rolls

1 pkg rapid rise active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk
6 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of water. In a large standing mixer, cream sugar and shortening. Add buttermilk, yeast mixture, 2 cups flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining 4 cups of flour to make a very soft dough (I did this part with my mixer's bread hook). Turn onto a floured surface and knead 4-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes while you make the caramel sauce. 

Caramel Sauce 

3 cups brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbs light corn syrup
2-4 Tbs butter unsalted butter, softened or melted
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs white sugar

Combine brown sugar, cream and light corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved & sauce is slightly thickened. Pour caramel sauce in equal amounts in the bottom of two 9x13 pans. [I usually get 12-14 rolls out of one batch. In order to avoid crowding, don't place more than 6-7 rolls in each pan.] 

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a large 10x18 inch rectangle. Spread with the softened butter. Sprinkle cinnamon & sugar over the dough. Starting with the long side, roll up and press to seal. Cut into 1" thick slices.

Place the rolls on top of the caramel sauce in your 2 pans. Cover with a bread cloth & let rise near your warming oven until doubled in size - about 1-2 hours. Bake in preheated 375° oven for 25-30 minutes. Invert onto platter while rolls are still warm. 

Reheat leftover rolls (leftovers? ha!) in the microwave for 30 seconds. Perfection!

67 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Pop is for drinking, soda is for baking.

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    2. In CA, soda is what we drink - when I was a child in MO - we drank pop. :-)

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    3. Soda's for drinking, pop is for fathers and small explosions

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    4. Pop is the noise a firecracker makes and soda is short or slang for sodium.

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    5. pop - soda - or soda pop-- we called it all three

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    6. Pop is 4 drinking and belching soda is bubbly water 4 belching baking soda is for baking Carmel rolls AR good 2 eat with soda pop enjoy

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    7. In North Dakota, we called Coke "pop"
      Down south, it is called "soda"
      Where is the dividing line?

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    8. In NE we call the beverage "pop." After being a military wife stationed in various parts of the country, my daughter now calls it "sodapop!" When our family says soda we now mean baking soda. It helps to hear/read it in context!

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    9. why do you need soda and baking powder if you are using yeast .ty

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    10. Soda interacts with the buttermilk, which is sour.

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    11. soda is what you drink...at least in IA/NE ( I grew up in IA and live now in NE. I have a question- bread flour??? you mean ORDINARY flour???

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    12. No, bread flour has more gluten than all purpose flour. You can use regular AP flour, though....will still be good. Just knead it for a little longer time.

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  2. Been making them for years in Arizona. Not just North Dakota anymore.

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    1. That's excellent news! Maybe they're a "West" thing. I have yet to find them - except in my own kitchen - here on the East Coast.

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    2. They are nowhere to be found in Colorado so definitely going to be trying this recipe. Thanks!

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  3. Replies
    1. Nothing! I love nuts in baked goods, but in this case, I prefer the soft, billowy texture of the rolls sans nut.

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  4. I make something similar in Arkansas, although I let mine rise the first time until doubles, then punch it down and roll it out. The second rise only takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The rolls will be bigger and fluffier because of the added time rising.

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    1. The original recipe called for a double rise. I skipped it mostly because I'm impatient, but also because I didn't want my rolls to grow too tall. I thought the texture with just 1 rise was surprisingly soft and fluffy, but you're absolutely right that a double rise will only increase those qualities.

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  5. when you say shortening, do you mean oil, lard, or butter?

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    1. Shortening is its own product - a type of solid fat made from vegetable oil. Crisco is a common brand of shortening. You could substitute butter or margarine if you don't want to use shortening.

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    2. Crisco solid shortening in a can.

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  6. Also, do you have a facebook page?

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  7. These look like what was served to us in school in Tulsa, OK on chili day! Have wanted the recipe for years and I am hoping this is the one! Tried a different recipe for Christmas, only to be disappointed. Can't wait to try these!

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    1. I hope these are what you've been looking for! I'd love to hear how they turn out!

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  8. My mother had a local cafe in the small town of York ND and always had these ready for when church got out. That was in the 70's and they were the best. I make them now also. Great treat.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Jane! What a great memory!

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    2. I'm actually from York, that cafe was in my front yard my whole life until they knocked down the building about 5 years ago

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    3. I'm actually from York, that cafe was in my front yard my whole life until they knocked down the building about 5 years ago

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    4. Hey, I spent summers in Leeds, ND, at my grand parents'. I think my grandma was born near York! She made rolls just like this,too! Tried them today and they were great!

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    5. My grandmother, grandfather and mother all grew up near Leeds, in Churches Ferry (ans Cando). These rolls are a staple in our family!

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    6. My mom grew up in Knox, ND. Not far from York. Spent any summers there and loved playing in the city park everyday. Great memories. I now live in Velva, ND (about 20 miles from Minot) I make caramel rolls quite often. My husband is from down south. None of his family understands what caramel rolls are either. Lol! My mom owned a restaurant a code years ago and we made caramel rolls everyday. They flew out the door everyday. Out of staters that stopped in to eat had never heard of them either. Poor things! They just don't know what heaven us like.

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    7. I've been to York, Leeds and Churches Ferry. There were some pretty good cooks at Kensal, North Dakota too.

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  9. Thanks for your recipe! They were delicious! I used regular yeast & allowed to rise before rolling out. After they were assembled, I covered them with plastic wrap & let the rolls do the second rise overnight in the fridge. In the morning I let it sit out for 30ish minutes & baked. It worked beautifully!

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    1. So glad you liked them! Thanks for sharing your overnight version - I'll have to try that next time to save some time in the morning!

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  10. Tell Grandma Sharon, if she won't share it with you, she should at least leave it to you. :) or maybe :(

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  11. Wow. I grew up in ND and these are a bit of a staple. If you want to skip all this and you have a Schwan's man, the freezer to oven caramel rolls come from a ND baker, Baker Boy. They aren't quite as big as they're made for the packaging, but they're some of the best pre-made around. And, if you don't want to go to all that hassle for the caramel, you just put brown sugar and cream in the bottom of your greased pan and mix it together before you lay the caramel rolls in the pan. I've never measured it, but I just make sure there's a good layer of a yummy mix in the bottom. I made them for friends in Germany... and left the recipe with them.

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    1. I'm from Strasburg, ND and used to work in the restaurant. What you said is how one of the owners made the caramel and rolls.

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  12. Katie! I'm so glad you posted this. My boyfriend and I moved to Milwaukee from Fargo, North Dakota. No caramel rolls to be found! I'm a pretty serious baker but have never done a yeasted dough (I'm a cookie, brownie and cake person.) Round number 1 was ok but I put way too many rolls in one pan. Made a 2nd attempt and they turned out perfect! Rave reviews from the boyfriend and Milwaukeeans alike!

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  13. Is there a way to prep these the night before? If so, how?

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    1. I haven't had the best luck doing them overnight, but one commenter shared this method: I used regular yeast & allowed to rise before rolling out. After they were assembled, I covered them with plastic wrap & let the rolls do the second rise overnight in the fridge. In the morning I let it sit out for 30ish minutes & baked. It worked beautifully!

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  14. Anyone tried a non dairy substitute for the buttermilk?

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  15. I'm from Minot ND and used to go to Donut Hole and get one of these for (I kid you not! ) 75 CENTS! They were ahhhhhhmazing-and usually sold out quick. THANK YOU for posting this recipe! I really miss these, now I'm no longer living in ND.

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  16. And a little butter... and yes it turns out just as good without all the work of making the Carmel.

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  17. If anybody remembers Lucas's in downtown Bismarck back in the 50s/60s, the coffee shop downstairs had the best cinnamon rolls. Never had anything like them since.

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  18. Grew up in Western Nebraska and all the church ladies would make these to have with coffee after the service. Haven't had them since I was a kid! They're rising right now.....can't wait!

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  19. I made these with my great grandma the first time when I was 5 yrs old in Turtle Lake, ND! She still had a wood cook stove at the time and every thing that she made was awesome! I still make them 44 yrs later and my family loves them and so do my husband's coworkers! I am making them today actually! The only real difference is I don't use rapid yeast and never use corn syrup just more butter! My ex husband had never had them or heard if them but he was from GA but then he had never had lefse before either but loved them both!

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    1. Hello Jody
      Nice to see someone here who know Turtle Lake. I grew up there.

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    2. And our Grandkids are growing up in Turtle Lake now. Great little town on the prairie!

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  20. Ever since I can remember the best caraMel rolls, like these, have been sold at Tobies in Hinckley, MN. A trip "Up North" is never complete without a stop at Tobies.

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  21. Cream is the magic ingredient and I use the 'heavy' variety. When on our farm I was the milk maid and our separator was set so the cream was very thick. I'm happy someone took the time here to measure the brown sugar and other stuff too cuz I just dumped cream and sugar in the greased 9x13, stirred it around til blended and plopped in the rolls. I'd let them raise til they got as tall as the pan and then baked them. It really is all about the cream...:)

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  22. Not new to Nebraska! But we always added pecans.

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  23. Forget the cream. I use 1 stick of butter melted, add 1 cup of brown sugar and one cup of vanilla ice cream. Do not use low fat. Combine all three ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour in a 9x13 pan add rolls and let rise. The is from South Dakota.

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  24. Do you used liquid buttermilk or the dried buttermilk powder?

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  25. I'm from ND, AND my mother made homemade caramel rolls, cinnamon rolls and bread. One warm winter day when my brother was walking home from school he told his friend that his mother was baking caramel rolls. (They were at the end of the block) . His friend asked him how he knew that and my brother stated he could smell them. His friend went home with him because he didn't believe him and, sure enough, mom was baking caramel rolls! Never enough of those at home growing up. One could NEVER grow tired of them.

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  26. I am soooooooooooo hoping these are like the ones served at breakfast for a buck at Century High School in Bismarck. 41 and been looking. I bought my wife a Ninja system for Christmas and I might rubber band this recipe to the dough maker.

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  27. Born and raised in Bismarck. My grandparents lived in Wilton. We would goup and see them and my grandma always made everything from scratch. Her carmel rolls were the best. I'm hoping to make them just like she did. Absolutely mouth watering delicious!!! She did her own canning and pickling. I don't eat a lot of pickles because they aren't and don't taste like hers. I think it's a North Dakota thing...lol.

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  28. I am from Minot ND,
    B and D Market on 3rd ST NE made these....yum !!
    This was the Sunday trwat.

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    1. They still make them and they are still Yummy

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  29. I lived in Bismarck for 8 years and my sweet and sassy friend from a farm near Tuttle shared her mom's caramel roll recipe with me. Yum! Hers were made with Rhodes roll dough (frozen). Very simple and super delicious! I may use the frozen dough if I run out of time but I'm excited to try your "car mel" recipe. It was fun reading all the comments with all the different towns represented in ND. I'm from Colorado and have since move back here. My years in ND were hard but I made some very special friends and grew to appreciate the unique beauty of that state. The sunsets were like none I've ever seen, even over the ocean. Best wishes to those of you who live there and those of you who grew up there and miss home.

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  30. in Real North Dakota bread baking, shortening means rendered pork fat aka Lard

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  31. I AM FROM DICKINSON N D I LIVE IN AZ AND I STILL MAKE

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  32. These sound good! the ones that annoy me recently, are the ones made with butterscotch pudding mix. ugh! they just DON'T taste right and are kinda slimy, ick! more butter, please, never hurts!

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