Happy Holidays! (The City Mouse, The Country Mouse & Quick Cinnamon Rolls)

November 2013

Once upon a time, there was a meek and kind Country Mouse and her vivacious cousin who lived amongst the glamour and glitz of the big city. When the holidays arrived, the City Mouse ventured over country roads, to visit her cousin, in her home underground. Unimpressed by the country’s quiet charms, the City Mouse convinced the country cousin to experience the sparkling city and its constant commotion.

City and Country Mouse

After scurrying to evade carriage wheels, fancy high heels and cats lurking in corners, the exhausted Country Mouse called it quits. The City Mouse bade the Country Mouse farewell before finding a fancy party to scavenge for fallen fringes and pretty pearls. As she bumped and bounced on the country roads to her home, the Country Mouse was filled with relief and gratitude for the peace of her holiday home.

Wall Decor

From her quaint pantry, she pulled out the pan of homemade rolls she had made for her metropolitan cousin. In the peaceful quiet of her home underground, the Country Mouse relished the fruits of her labor in solitude. She reflected on all for which she had to be grateful while savoring the swirls of sugar and spice.

Little Tin of Rolls

I recently assisted the magical mind of my friend Thommy Conroy, as he interpreted the classic tale of The City Mouse & The Country Mouse for the holidays at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers. As we put ourselves into the story and the minds of mice, I couldn’t help but add a little food to the story, and my new cookbook provided just the solution!

Pan of Larger Rolls

If you’ve ever awakened lazily on a Sunday morning with a cinnamon roll craving, then stared at a time-consuming recipe regrettably, you know a significant factor in making them is time! In response to this predicament, America’s Test Kitchen set out to make a quicker cinnamon roll. Their thorough testing proved biscuit dough to be the solution, and though their aim is to develop the perfect recipe, I couldn’t help but tinker a little with some whole-wheat pastry flour and raw sugar. The recipe in the book also includes a buttermilk icing, but I served my rolls with a homemade cranberry sauce (recipe to follow in a subsequent post) for a holiday touch.

Quick Cinnamon Buns
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 8 buns & some mice-sized rolls too!

Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to grease the pan; melt the total amount (8 Tablespoons) at once and measure it out as you need it.

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for pan


3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) raw sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Biscuit dough

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) whole-wheat pastry flour, plus additional flour for work surface
2 Tablespoons raw sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 Tablespoon melted butter into 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

For the Filling

Combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

For the Dough

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl.

Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle.

Brush dough with 2 Tablespoons melted butter.

Sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges. Press filling firmly into dough.

Using bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to form tight log. Pinch seam to seal. Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and keep filling in place. Place one roll in center of prepared nonstick pan, then place remaining seven rolls around perimeter of pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter.

Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal spatula to loosen buns from pan.

Wearing oven mitt, place large plate over pan and invert buns onto plate. Place greased cooling rack over plate and invert buns onto rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.


Happy Holidays!
With The Grains

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anne Lively

    Great photos! I love Roxanne’s and go whenever we’re at The Strip.
    Miss Julep is getting so grown up and beautiful!

    1. withthegrains

      Thanks Anne! I hope to see you on your next visit, and yes, little Julep is becoming Lady Julep more and more by the day!

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