Mr. Ho’s/ Hoe’s Buns

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            Several times I have been up at night, jet-lagged as the rest of my family sleeps, and I have thought how nice it would be to make a pan of cinnamon rolls for them to wake up to.  But I’ve never had a trustworthy recipe at hand or the where-with-all to do any research and the moment passed. 
I have some really happy memories related to cinnamon rolls.  When I was a girl, my mom used to buy some packaged cinnamon rolls, the kind you whack on the counter to open.  You just had to pull the preformed dough from the package, bake them off in a pan, and then drizzle the hot rolls with the provided frosting packet.  Even a girl of 8 or 9 could successfully make these.  I can picture one summer afternoon thunderstorm that drove my dad in from the field.  We all sat in front of the enormous picture window in our kitchen, watching the storm, and eating the warm buns while my parents had coffee. 
I also, more recently, remember a disgusting cinnamon roll that I bought at a Cinnabon in the Abu Dhabi airport at about 1:00 AM.  It wasn’t even food, it was just a lump of every form of caloric trickery man has yet discovered.  I ate some of it and then truly thought I was going to throw up.  What had I expected?  Mother’s love, I guess, but it didn’t exist at Cinnabon.
A recent edition of the Singapore American School’s alumni magazine, SAS Journeys, printed a recipe for a cinnamon bun that does bring me happy associations.  The American school had an excellent cafeteria run by the famous Ho/Hoe brothers (I think that one of them may spell his name Ho and the other Hoe so take your pick).  They made many delicious short order Asian dishes and a few expat favorites like roast turkey and cinnamon rolls.  I remember eating these, on occasion, on a super thin paper plate with a rickety plastic fork that could hardly take on these chewy, gooey masses.  They were good, though, and when I examined the recipe, I thought, Good on you, Mr. Ho/Hoe.  They’re actually pretty healthy, if you were going to eat a cinnamon roll anyway. 
I’ll print the recipe as it came and then I will make some comments.
3 cups flour
½ cup whoemeal flour
1 ½ cups water
1 Tbs yeast
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon Sugar
5 Tbs sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbs butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup milk
1.     Combine half the flour, whole meal flour, water, and yeast in a mixer and stir into dough for 5 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
2.     Add the remaining dough ingredients (olive oil, sugar, eggs, and salt) into the dough mixture.  Stir about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth.
3.     Knead the dough and form into a ball.  Cover with a cloth and let dough rise for 45 minutes.
4.     On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 2.5 inch thick rectangle.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
5.     Cut dough into 1.5 inch wide strips.  Roll each strip into 3-inch circles and place in baking pan with space between buns.
6.     Let buns rise for 45 minutes.
7.     Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Remove cinnamon buns from oven and cool completely.
8.     Whip frosting ingredients together until smooth, adding small amounts of extra milk as necessary to make a spreadable consistency.  Frost cooled cinnamon buns.
Yield:  Makes about 20 buns
Step 2:  I needed to add significantly more flour than this to form a ball.  I was careful to maintain the stickiest dough I thought I could still work with.
Step 3:  You want to create dough that is as soft as a baby’s bottom.  Rather than leave it to rise on a countertop covered by a towel, I oiled a bowl with olive oil, rolled the dough around in the oil and let it rise, covered by plastic wrap, in a warm place.
Step 4:  I think the 2.5 inch thick rectangle is a misprint.  Roll the dough, as evenly as possible, into a 12” x 14” rectangle.  Notice there is no butter bath slathered onto the dough before sprinkling the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  You could add it here if you want to, but the absence of the butter makes these rolls distinctive.
Step 5:  This is an interesting way to go about forming the rolls.  I used my usual method of rolling the dough and filling into a consistently thick log and then cut it at 1.5 inch intervals.  I gently pressed each roll in the pan and they were touching slightly at this point.  By the way, butter the pan first!
Step 7:  The chewy texture of this dough trades on two things:  the ultra-soft olive oil dough and slight under-baking.  Start with the recommended 15-minute bake.  Take the pan out of the oven and pry one roll out.  If the dough is still gooey, you’ve got to give them another five minutes and then try it again.  The color will only have a hue of brown.
Yield:  My batch made 12-15 rolls

2 thoughts on “Mr. Ho’s/ Hoe’s Buns

  1. Oh my Lord. I thought I had escaped the sirens call of the Ho/Hoe bun but NO, you published the recipe and now I will have to make them. Gracious, but Saturday morning can't get here fast enough now.

  2. Awesome, I used to go to SAS many moons ago. I also thought I had escaped its siren call, but alas, here I am.

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