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Recipe: Henderson Family Cinnamon Rolls


maryThis recipe is very special to our family because it is only used once per year – at Thanksgiving.

Each October my father’s side of the family gathers for “Thanksgiving in the Woods” and between 30-40 of us trek about three miles into the woods to a family member’s hunting camp to enjoy our turkey dinner.

My Aunt Mary would make them as her contribution to our family dinner. They’d never make it to dessert – they were always an appetizer, enjoyed either on the way back to camp or once we arrived.

Just weeks before Thanksgiving 2011, Aunt Mary passed away.

Carrying on the tradition

I knew immediately that I had to step up and carry on her tradition.

What I didn’t immediately know was that is was one of her last wishes that someone make the cinnamon rolls from the family recipe she kept of my grandmother’s and take them to camp that year.

For the last five years I have made these cinnamon rolls. Making them is a labour of love and each October I look forward to spending the day making them so that her tradition carries on in her absence.

Aunt Mary even carried them in a specific pot (yes, a pot because there were so many and it had a handle) and I have since inherited the pot to make sure the tradition is kept intact.

I hope you enjoy them as much as our extended family does.

The pot full of cinnamon rolls enroute to Thanksgiving Dinner in 2018.

Henderson Family Cinnamon Rolls


1/2 cup hot mashed potatoes
1/2 cup of warm water or potato water
1/2 cup scalded milk
4 cups all-purpose flour (approximate)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package of active dry yeast (1 Tbsp)
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup softened butter, for spreading
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp softened butter
1 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup icing sugar

In a small bowl, blend all ingredients in order given.


In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk to beat the potatoes, warm water, milk and 1/2 cup of the flour until well blended.
Set aside to cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 tsp of the sugar in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Set aside until it doubles in bulk. Stir yeast into potato batter. Cove and let rise until light.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and remaining granulated sugar. Add salt and eggs and beat until well blended. Stir into the yeast mixture. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead about 100 times, adding more flour to board as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place in a greased bowl. Turn to grease all over and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down.

On a floured surface, roll dough to form a rectangle about 16 inches by 20 inches wide. Spread with softened butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll as for a jelly roll and cut into 1 inch slices. Place the slices 1/2 inch apart in a greased baking pan with sides. Let rest until double in size.

Bake at 375F oven for about 16 to 20 minutes or until nicely browned. While rolls are still hot, use a pastry brush to spread the glaze over the top of each.

Makes about 18 rolls.

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