Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Sheep

My Sunday school class is studying a series entitled "I Am."  Each week we study a passage from John in which Jesus makes an "I am" statement.

I wanted to do something special each week to help the class remember the lesson.  The first week, "I am the bread of life," I made homemade Avanti's bread rolls.

The second week, "I am the light of the world, " I emailed everyone a video of Nora singing "This Little Light of Mine."

The third week, "I am the gate," I put up a baby gate at the entrance to our classroom and made everyone step over it to enter class.

This week's lesson is "I am the good shepherd."  I couldn't really find any shepherd recipes (besides Shepherd's Pie), but I found lots of cute sheep recipes.  I finally decided to make a sheep out of cinnamon rolls.

This was my inspiration photo:

I can't tell you the name of the source because not a word of it is in English.  You can visit the site here.

From what I can tell, the inspiration photo is a bread recipe (not cinnamon rolls).  The swirls reminded me of cinnamon rolls, and I thought they would be tasty for a Sunday morning.

I was worried about stacking my rolls and baking them in one big clump because the center might not get baked through.  So I decided to bake individual cinnamon rolls and stack them after they're baked.

I started by making the dough.  My go-to recipe for cinnamon rolls is Everyday Cinnamon Rolls from Our Best Bites.  I adjust the filling ingredients to be 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 3/4 butter (softened).  The original recipe just made way too much filling and it oozed out and soaked the cinnamon rolls in a buttery bath.  Also note that this recipe uses Rapid Rise yeast instead of the usual Active Dry yeast.  I like it because it takes less time than a traditional recipe.

When the dough was ready to be shaped, I cut off a chunk of dough for the sheep's face and two little pieces for the ears (I divided that smaller piece of dough in two).  I ultimately decided not to try to put cinnamon filling in the head.

To make the sheep's head, I first rolled the larger piece of dough into a ball.  Then I divided the smaller piece in two and set the ears up against the head.

Then I shaped the face a bit.

Then I rolled out the dough for the cinnamon rolls.  Normally, I roll it out about 12" x 14" to make normal size rolls.  For this project, I wanted lots of mini rolls, so I rolled out my dough to be narrow and long.

I spread my filling over the dough.

Then I rolled it up.

I cut it into rolls about 3/4" thick.

Normally, I put the rolls in a 9x13 pan for rising and baking.  However, when they touch as they rise and bake, they become more square in shape.  I wanted nice round little swirls, so I put my rolls on cookie sheets, making sure they wouldn't touch.

I originally put the sheep head on one of the pans with rolls, but then I realized it would likely need to bake longer, so I moved it to its own pan.  I only have two Silpat mats, so I just put parchment paper on the third pan.  I should have wiped away those blobs of cinnamon filling after I moved the rolls off that pan.  Oh well.

I let the rolls rise for 30 minutes and then baked at 350 for about 13 minutes.  I checked after 10, moved the pans around, and just kept checking them.

Even though I had adjusted the filling like I usually do, it still oozed out of all the rolls.  Since the filling oozed out, the rolls didn't stay tightly rolled.  I adjusted them by hand as best as I could.

You see why I should have wiped that cinnamon filling off?  It burned on the paper.

At this point I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?  Why do I always do this to myself?"  I suddenly wished I had made cupcakes or something else.  I was very frustrated that my work had not produced cute little swirled rolls.

{By the way, I promise these rolls have worked every time I've made them normal size and baked in a 9x13.}

I let everything cool.

I decided to lay out my sheep with the head off to one side and the body made of stacked cinnamon rolls.  I used my cupcake carrier (without the cupcake trays) so I could put a lid on the cinnamon rolls overnight and easily transport them to church.

I looked at my inspiration photo as well as this picture to help me:

How to Draw a Cartoon Sheep

I started with the head and one layer of rolls.

Then I added two more layers of cinnamon rolls.  This was my "dry fit" run.

I wasn't thrilled with the overall layout/shape, but I had to make it fit on what I had (the bottom of the cupcake carrier).  I had a mental hissy fit about the shape not being right.  And then I got over it.

I mixed up a quick icing.  I used powdered sugar, milk, and clear vanilla so the icing would remain white.

I repeated the roll layering process, this time icing the rolls in between.

I added more powdered sugar to the remaining icing until I had a very thick, crumbly mixture.  I shaped it by hand to create two large discs for the eyes and two little dots for the nose.

I used two jumbo chocolate chips for the pupils of the eyes.

I looked at my little sheep.  I looked at my pictures.  I just couldn't figure out how to make it look better.  I finally decided to add a little mouth.

It still didn't seem quite right.  I felt my frustration rising.  Then I realized I was being ridiculous over a treat for my Sunday school class.  It's not perfect.  But it's good enough. 

So here is my cinnamon roll sheep:

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep."  John 10:14-15



  1. Oh my word! That is the cutest thing ever!!!! You are so creative!!!!