Cast Iron Campfire Cinnamon Rolls

Cast-Iron Campfire Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12

What could be more enticing than the warm aroma of cinnamon rolls?

What could be more enticing than the warm aroma of cinnamon rolls?

Whether you are on an escapade in the woods or savoring a lazy weekend morning at home, the aroma of these cinnamon rolls will lure everyone out of bed. The dough and filling can be made and rolled up a day or two ahead, so you’ll only need to give the individual rolls a little time to rise before baking. A little anticipation never hurts, right? They are best enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee.


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus ½ cup (1 stick) for the filling
1 cup whole milk, lukewarm
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave in a heatproof container for about 30 seconds. Stir the melted butter into the lukewarm milk.

Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Stir on low speed for about 15 seconds to combine. With the mixer running, add the eggs 1 at a time and pour in the butter and milk mixture in a slow, steady stream.

Continue to mix on low speed for about 8 minutes more, until the dough comes together in a ball around the dough hook and is smooth, shiny and springy to the touch. Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in the warmest spot in the kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 to 1½ hours.

Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium bowl, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.

This is a good time to make the icing: Wash and thoroughly dry the bowl of your stand mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Turn off the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat for about 30 seconds more to mix in evenly. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator (or a cooler, for camping) until ready to eat the cinnamon rolls.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down by putting your fist into the dough as far as it will go and repeat about 12 times all around the dough. Melt the ½ cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave in a heatproof container for about 30 seconds. 

Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean countertop and rolling pin, and roll out the dough into about a 12- by 18-inch rectangle. Brush the melted butter all over the dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly all over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough lengthwise into a log and pinch the ends to seal them.

At this point, the log can be tightly wrapped and sealed in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator (or a cooler, for camping) until you are ready to eat the cinnamon rolls. It will keep for a day or two. Or proceed with the following steps.

About an hour before you are ready to bake the cinnamon rolls, use a knife to mark off 12 even rounds of approximately 1½ inches each. It helps to mark the middle first and keep marking the center of each section until you have 12 even portions. Then slice into individual rolls.

Arrange the rolls in a single layer in a 12-inch cast-iron pan (you will need a lidded cast iron for cooking on campfire). Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a lid and place in a warm spot, for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffed up and nearly doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350°F if making them at home.

Once they have risen, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown on the tops and sides and completely cooked through. (For baking on the campfire, you will place the lid on your cast iron and set it on a grill grate over hot coals. Use a shovel to place about 12–14 hot coals evenly around on top of the lid.)

Let the rolls cool slightly, then ice the tops and enjoy right away.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Black Lentils

Roasted Acorn Squash with Black Lentils

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6 (1-inch) rings of hollowed-out acorn squash

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper


Preheat oven to 400°.

Toss the squash with the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and transfer to sheet pan. Roast until fork tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium stockpot over high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, lentils, cumin and paprika. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, then stir in the remaining salt and pepper.

Zhoug (Optional Garnish)

2 jalapeños, destemmed and seeded

2 tablespoons chopped white onion

½ cup cilantro

½ cup parsley

½ teaspoon cumin

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients together until smooth. Transfer to airtight container and store in fridge for up to 3 days.

Warm Up with a Wadi Rum Cocktail

By Tim Ebner, photography by Jennifer Chase

This Wadi Rum cocktail can be made in minutes and combines all the elements of a stiff drink sure to get you through the dark and cold days of winter.

This Wadi Rum cocktail can be made in minutes and combines all the elements of a stiff drink sure to get you through the dark and cold days of winter.

In the arid and wild terrain of the southern Jordanian desert is where you’ll find a protected land called Wadi Rum.

Most people might know it as the setting of Lawrence of Arabia, the Oscar-winning 1962 film starring Peter O’Toole. In history, it’s where Colonel T.E. Lawrence led Arab forces north into Syria, eventually defeating the Ottomans and overtaking Damascus during World War I.

But to Chris Hassaan Francke, owner of the Green Zone in Adams Morgan, Wadi Rum is more than just a movie set or historical landmark. It’s an experience that evokes a cocktail inspired by a camping trip he once took with his father.

“About six years ago, I was in Beirut visiting family, and my dad and I decided to do a side trip, spending two nights in Wadi Rum,” Francke says. “It was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on because at night, you’re essentially sleeping in slightly modernized Bedouin tents. And every night before bed, we met in a central tent to take in a fire, eat dinner and drink tea.”

Drinking tea or coffee is how most Bedouin tribes welcome in their guests. They are nomadic people who serve hot beverages out of necessity—temperatures in Wadi Rum drop to near freezing most nights. The ritual of tea is something Francke says he’ll never forget.

“The tea there is like unlike anything else because it’s not just black tea, there’s also sage, and it’s served sweet,” he says. “Each night by the campfire, there would be just endless pots of tea going over the fire.”

Closer to home this type of tea might be harder to find. Francke says you can buy sage tea at local Middle Eastern markets, like Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria or Gourmet Basket in McLean. In Jordan, the tea is known as maramiyya and in Lebanon, it’s called qass’een.

Or you can visit the Green Zone this winter, where sage tea is combined into a cocktail with smoky-sweet flavors conjuring up Francke’s Bedouin tent experience.

“It’s the same sage tea plus black tea and lapsang souchong, which is a smoked tea that’s reminiscent of sitting around a campfire,” Francke says. “And because it’s Wadi Rum, of course, we had to add some rum in there too.”

Francke prefers a light-bodied rum, like Don Q Añejo or Mount Gay Eclipse, but if you want to substitute a local craft distillery, try Cotton & Reed’s dry-spiced rum.

The drink can be made in minutes and combines all the elements of a stiff drink sure to get you through the dark and cold days of winter.

“It’s boozy, it’s hot, it’s smoky and it’s a little bit sweet,” Francke says. “What more do you want in a wintertime drink?”


Ingredients for the Wadi Rum cocktail:

●      6 ounces water

●      1 tablespoon loose Ceylon black tea

●      1 teaspoon lapsang souchong tea

●      1 teaspoon Levantine sage

●      ½ ounce simple syrup

●      1½ ounces light aged rum

How to make the Wadi Rum cocktail:

Add 6 ounces of water to a saucepan and add the teas and sage. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Or add the tea and sage to a teakettle and steep with boiling water for 5 minutes (the latter will produce a lighter tea).

Rinse a heat-proof glass or mug with hot water. Then, add the syrup and rum—such as Don Q Añejo or Mount Gay Eclipse—and top off with hot tea, straining out the leaves. Stir briefly before serving.