Yesterday wasn't exactly cinnamon roll weather--it got up to 98 degrees inside our house--but undaunted, on I forged with The Great Cinnamon Roll Project. My darling and brilliant friend Jenna had recommended yesterday's recipe to me, and frankly, I wouldn't have tried it if the recommendation had not come from her. I would have taken one look at the ingredient list (which includes instant vanilla pudding) and moved on. But I trust Jenna. End of story.
Mel (of Mel's Kitchen Cafe) claims that the vanilla pudding makes the dough tender and pliable, and it certainly was that. I tasted the raw dough, which was surprisingly un-sweet and had only the faintest of artificial tastes to it. (That disappeared upon baking, by the way.)
When it came time to roll out the dough, I did make a change. Mel called for an amount of filling that is fully double the amount of any other recipe I tried. There was no way. It's not like I ever cut down on the amount of butter and sugar in anything, either--but this was too much. So instead of spreading one cup of butter over the dough, I settled for 3/4 cup, and instead of 2 cups of brown sugar + 4 tablespoons of cinnamon, I halved that--and it was more than plenty.
The dough was a bit sticky, but it rolled up and cut just fine. The rolls rose and baked beautifully--I used my big lasagna pan plus another pan that measures about 10x7 inches.
Mel's frosting recipe calls for cream cheese, which of course, divided the household. Hope conceded that this particular recipe was "less cheesy" than others, but James was not impressed.
Thse rolls were good. Quite good. They certainly got gobbled down in a hurry. However, I think Grandma Ida still has the edge; the higher egg-to-flour ratio in her recipe gives the dough a richness that Mel's doesn't quite have. In the end, although the texture was excellent and the sweetness level was spot on, I felt these rolls were slightly one dimensional in flavor. Would I make them again? Probably--but only if I had instant vanilla pudding in the pantry, and that's not all that likely.