Ring-A-Lings for Gamma

Around the holidays, it always seems like I’m even more in the mood to bake for others. I mainly stick with cookies, but I have branched out into breads and yeast doughs more often this year. Breads and baked goods with yeast kind of scare me a bit, but I finally decided if I didn’t just go for it, it’d always seem scary.

Last time I was digging through my pile of recipes, I found one from my grandma (I call her Gamma) for these pastries called Ring-A-Lings (see below for the recipe). They sounded very good; kind of like an orange and hazelnut cinnamon roll. Naturally, I called Gamma and asked her about them. It turns out the recipe was from the 1955 Pillsbury bake-off competition. She raved about them, saying how tasty they were and how she made them on a regular basis. After questioning some of the instructions, I happened to mention them to my mom later that day and she also raved about how great they were. The next day I asked my aunt if she remembered them. She also gave them a fabulous review.

At that point, I knew I had to make them, but not wanting to attempt it on my own, I brought the recipe with me to Minnesota, thinking my mom would love to help make them. We had only decided to make cookies while I was home, but after scheduling a shopping outing with Gamma, we had the perfect reason to make them.

As it turned out, twisting and shaping the rolls wasn’t nearly as hard as the recipe had made it sound. And the hype surrounding them was dead on: they were crazy good. But, the most rewarding part was seeing the excitement on Gamma’s face when we brought her some to enjoy.

I will definitely make Ring-A-Lings again, but I’ll have to make a double batch so I can keep some for myself!

The finished product!

Ring-A-Lings (1955 Pillsbury Grand Prize Winning Recipe)
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup nuts, ground  (I used hazelnuts, but pecans or walnuts would be delicious too)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level off.  In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, orange peel and yeast; mix well.
In a small saucepan, heat milk and 1/3 cup butter until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F).  Add warm liquid and eggs to flour mixture; blend at low speed until moistened.  Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.  Stir in remaining 2 to 2-1/2 cups flour to form a stiff dough.  Place dough in a greased bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cloth towel.  Let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, 40-50 minutes.
In a small bowl blend powdered sugar and 1/3 cup butter until smooth.  Stir in nuts; set aside.  In a second small bowl blend glaze ingredients; cover and set aside.
Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray.  Stir down dough to remove all air bubbles.  On a floured surface, roll dough to a 22×12 inch rectangle.  Spread the filling mixture lengthwise over half of the dough.  Fold dough over the filling.  Cut crosswise into 1-inch strips; twist each strip 4 to 5 times.  To shape rolls, hold folded end of the strip down on a cookie sheet to form center; coil strip around center.  tuck loose end under.  Repeat with the remaining twisted strips.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Uncover dough.  Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown.  Brush tops of rolls with glaze.  Bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediately remove rolls from the cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

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