Somehow in the past year I have become a “runner”.  I will leave the word in quotations because most people would probably not consider my 2-mile (at the most 5k) runs all that challenging or impressive.  But for this tall girl with long, awkward legs, and entirely too large of feet, running was always very difficult and just plain painful.  After many failed attempts to start a running regimen in the past, I have managed to run regularly for 1 year and 2 months…believe me, I am counting.

A few months before my running stint began, my sister started running.  Now let me tell you something about the Phillips sisters:  we are not athletes.  It wasn’t until my first year at college, when I had a nice rec center at my disposal, did it even cross my mind that I should exercise.  Exercise I did!  I got hooked on the tread mill (walking of course), pilates, and spinning, but after almost seven years as an avid gym-goer, I had had enough and needed to find a new form of exercising.  I could see my sister was enjoying running and reluctantly agreed to begin meeting her at my parent’s house at 5:30 am to run.  Yes, I was motivated by burning calories, improving my fitness, and even finishing a 5k, but the biggest reason I began setting my alarm for 5:00 am was breakfast.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been the breakfast chef at my parent’s house.  He is a pro at pancakes, breakfast tacos, oats, fruit and yogurt, waffles, crepes…the list goes on.  While fellow classmates would be scarfing down pop tarts in carpool on the way to school, my belly was full of homemade love.  After leaving home, my breakfasts pretty much consisted of cereal and I often missed a warm breakfast in the morning.  So when my dad offered to cook me breakfast on the mornings I ran, I was convinced.

Since then, my sister and I have run, on average, three times a week, have completed a 5k (let me tell you, this was an accomplishment), are currently considering a 10k (gulp…I will keep you posted on that), and have eaten many good breakfasts.

I thought I would treat my dad and the rest of the family to breakfast this morning by bringing over some cinnamon rolls.  Cinnamon rolls are great anytime of the day, but you gotta love the smells of cinnamon and yeast filling the air first thing in the morning.  A welcoming way to start the day.

I have made a variety of different cinnamon rolls, but my favorite of all are huge, fluffy, melt-in-your mouth, and are extremely moist thanks to buttery yukon gold potatoes (the secret ingredient) that trap every last ounce of moisture into the rolls.

I discovered this recipe in the March 2009 issue of Bon Appetit and we have had and extreme love/hate relationship.  I hate to critic a recipe, because I know each is put through rigorous testing, but I am almost positive there was a typo when the recipe went to print.  I can handle sticky dough, but this was goo, impossible to tame and form into uniform rolls.  I would fight and fight until I would miraculously get dough wrapped around cinnamon onto a baking sheet.  As ugly as the rolls were, the battle I had just conquered was completely forgotten when I would take a bite of the rolls.  I fell in love and kept going through this awful cycle of intense frustration followed by pure joy.  During one particularly bad battle, the dough was so wet that by the end of the fight myself and all of the dough ended up in one big pile on my kitchen floor (surrounded by all sorts of profanities).  My husband forbid me from ever making this recipe again.  It was that bad…

Scarred and defeated, I complied for almost a year, but I wanted cinnamon rolls and I didn’t want just any rolls, I wanted “the potato ones”.  So, behind my husband’s back, I set out to fix this recipe so that I could still enjoy all it’s wonderful qualities without having a near breakdown while making them.  Luckily it worked, my husband can relax when I announce, “I am going to make cinnamon rolls”, my sis and I had a great breakfast waiting for us this morning after our run, and I guess I should run a 10k just to burn off the calories.

Raspberry Swirl Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from and inspired by recipes in the March 2009 Bon Appetit and January 2011 Food & Wine Magazines

Makes 12 large rolls

Note:  To make the recipe more manageable, I adjusted the amount of flour and water.  It is still a sticky dough, but can now be handled and rolled out with out much hassle.  Because it is a wet dough, you may find your rolls don’t look as perfect as they would with a sturdier dough, that’s okay; once risen and baked they look nice and taste even better (which is the important part anyway).

I changed the filling to include raspberries.  I was inspired by a recipe in the latest Food & Wine magazine, and wanted to incorporate the fruit into the potato recipe.  Look at that!  There is a fruit and a vegetable in a cinnamon roll!  Make sure to use frozen, not fresh fruit in this recipe.  The addition to fruit is great, it melts away and marries with the rest of the filling adding a sweet and tart twist to a great classic.  I think frozen blueberries would be nice as well.

If you want cinnamon rolls first thing in the morning, unbaked rolls can be stored, covered, in refrigerator for 12 hours.  Bring to room temperature and bake as directed below.  I think this long rise also improves the rolls flavor.

For the dough:

1 pound yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3 large eggs

5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

10 oz frozen raspberries (do not thaw)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons (or more) milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine potatoes, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon coarse salt in large saucepan. Boil until potatoes are very tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Mash potatoes with water in pan (do not drain water). Add butter and mash until butter is melted.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Whisk in eggs, then 1 cup flour; mash until very smooth. Let potatoes stand until barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup warm water into large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; stir in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add potato mixture to yeast mixture; mix on low speed until well blended, 2 minutes. Mix in 4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well. Beat until sticky dough forms.

Spread 1/4 cup flour on work surface. Scrape dough out onto floured work surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 8 minutes.

Coat large bowl with butter. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in medium bowl. Using fork, mix in butter.  In another medium bowl, combine frozen raspberries and cornstarch until fruit is evenly coated with the cornstarch.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface. Roll out dough to 24×16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon filling evenly over dough followed by rasberries. Starting at 1 long side, roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using large knife dipped in flour, cut roll crosswise into 12 pieces. Transfer rolls to baking sheet, spacing rolls about 3/4 inch apart. Cover baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes (rolls will be very puffy).

Bake cinnamon rolls until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool rolls 10 minutes on baking sheet.

While rolls are baking, make glaze.  Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl.  If the glaze is too thick to spread, add more milk by the 1/2 tablespoonful as needed.  Spread over warm rolls.