It’s a busy Saturday morning in the Wingate home and, as usual on Saturday morning, Angela is making cinnamon rolls. Making this morning a little more chaotic than usual, Angela is going over the last arrangements for the fundraiser later tonight. Bruce, smelling the heavenly treat, enters the kitchen. “Are they ready yet?” “Almost,” Angela replies, getting the crystal serving platter ready. “You know, Madalyn could smell these a mile away. Where is she, by the way? She hasn’t blown through here in days,” Bruce remarks. “We still haven’t spoken,” Angela says, as she takes the rolls out of the oven. “I just can’t believe I blew up at her. And on THAT day, of all days.” “Wouldn’t Sydney be about Payton’s age?” Bruce inquired, taking a hot roll right out of the pan. “Yeah, he was a year younger than Payton when the incident happened.” Putting his arms around her, Bruce says, “You should go talk to her and bring her one cinnamon roll.” Buried in Bruce’s chest, Angela mutters “I should go talk to her before the fundraiser tonight.” Feeling Bruce nodding his head she hears, “Yes, you should.” “You’re afraid I’m going to take all the cinnamon rolls, aren’t you?” She then hears Bruce say “Yes, I am.” Bruce gives Angela one roll and takes the rest as his prize.
While Angela tries to mend fences with a friend, another member of the Wingate home is hatching a plan to climb a fence to get information. In the middle of texting Payton walks downstairs with his phone in hand. “We have to get into that house,” Payton sends. “Tonight is the only time we can do it. Everyone on the street will be at the fundraiser,” Xavier replies, adding, “When the fundraiser gets under way we can find time to slip away. I told my mom I’d help with the coat check.” Payton takes a moment before responding to look over at his dad on the sofa. “Dad, can I get one of those cinnamon rolls?” “Nope. Not enough. Your mother took yours over to Madalyn,” Bruce says without turning his head. “Dad… there are 3 on the plate.” Bruce turns to look at Payton. “Son… you’re not getting a cinnamon roll. I love you… but I’m sorry.” Payton, trying not to laugh, just looks at his father. “It’s the little things for you, huh?” Payton says looking back at the new text from Xavier, completely missing the fist his dad raises in triumph. “I’ll see you there. I’ll be with Saraya Foster. My mom set us up. I’m escorting her…” Payton’s heart sinks as he reads this message. He continues to stare at the screen until Xavier nudges him with a question mark followed by “are you there?” Finally, Payton simply responds with, “It’s cool.”
Angela knocks on Madalyn’s door and nervously waits for the door to open. It finally does, with Madalyn looking at her. “I come with gifts,” Angela says, holding the plate as a peace offering. Madalyn pauses, looking at Angela and then the plate. “Come in.” She lets Angela in and the two women enter the kitchen, taking seats at the counter. Without thinking about it, Angela grabs a cup of coffee. “I want to first say that I am so sorry about the other day. I… forgot that it was Sydney’s anniversary. And you’re right; I haven’t been around lately for you or for the event. Can you forgive me?” Madalyn, looking at Angela, says, “Of course I forgive you, you’re my friend. And I’m going to need you tonight.” “Yes, boss,” Angela says jokingly, but knowing it’s the least she could do. “Speaking of Sydney, what do the police say? Have they found anything?” Madalyn takes a deep breath. “The police call me every year and ask if I want to change the status of the case to ‘deceased’ and I say no, like always. You know, I feel like, if I do, I’d be giving up,” Madalyn says. “It has been a long time; Sydney would be about Payton’s age now. I don’t think I would give up either,” Angela says, getting up to console Madalyn. Angela breaks the silence by pointing at the stove top. “Is that one of Tammy Webster’s casseroles?” “Yeah. She says I’ll love it. Last year she made one and it was made of corn and peanut butter.” They share a look. “It was actually pretty good.” The ensuing burst of laughter is the superglue that bonds them back together.
Angela heads back home, but is halted by her ringing phone at the end of Madalyn’s long driveway. “Hi. How are you?… I’m tired. Tired of this game. I need to meet with you… Well, I just wanted to offer you something… the truth.”
Angela’s Cinnamon Rolls
for 14 servings
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups whole milk, warm to the touch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 5 cups flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Fireball
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Generously butter two disposable foil pie/cake pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together warm milk, melted butter, and granulated sugar. The mixture should be just warm, registering between 100-110˚F (37-43˚C). If it is hotter, allow to cool slightly.
- Sprinkle the yeast evenly over the warm mixture and let set for 1 minute.
- Add 4 cups (500g) of all-purpose flour to the milk mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. After 1 hour, the dough should have nearly doubled in size.
- Remove the towel and add an additional ¾ cup (95g) of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Stir well, then turn out onto a well-floured surface.
- Knead the dough lightly, adding additional flour as necessary, until the dough just loses its stickiness and does not stick to the surface.
- Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about ½-inch (1 cm) thick. Fix corners to make sure they are sharp and even.
- Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.
- Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Press the mixture into the butter.
- Roll up the dough, forming a log, and pinch the seam closed. Place seam-side down. Trim off any unevenness on either end.
- Cut the log in half, then divide each half into 7 evenly sized pieces. About 1½ inches (8cm) thick each.
- Place 7 cinnamon rolls in each cake pan, one in the center, six around the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
- To prepare the frosting: In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese, butter, whole milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar, until smooth.
- Remove plastic wrap. Bake the cinnamon rolls in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- While still warm, drizzle evenly with frosting.