With The Walking Dead coming back in just a few weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about bloody red, fleshy foods for a dinner party. I’m more than a little in love with the amazing things you can do with dark red beets, but I also realize a lot of people have never eaten beets and have no interest in trying – not even if they look like zombie flesh. Ahem. Perhaps especially if they look like zombie flesh. I needed something sweet. Something seductive. Something bloody.
My Bleeding Bleeding Red Velvet Cinnamon Roll experiment came out better than even I had anticipated. The cinnamon rolls are fluffy and light, the color is gloriously red, and once you add the final glaze, the photo doesn’t do justice to the full bloody flesihiness. They’re honestly a little bit of a pain in the ass to make, but they’re so stunningly impressive that they’re worth it. If cinnamon rolls are too tame for your Walking Dead viewing party, there are also plenty of ways to modify this recipe to resemble human guts or the ripped up muscles of a fresh zombie victim.
Bleeding Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 box red velvet cake mix
- 5 ½ cups bread flour
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tbsp yeast (2 packets)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 4 tbsp cinnamon
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ tsp red food coloring
- 1 tbsp Nutella (optional)
These deep red, fleshy cinnamon rolls make a tasty stand in for freshly ripped strands of human meat. They’re also a lot less likely to get you arrested.
Start by mixing your yeast and warm water until the yeast is completely dissolved. Now walk away for at least 10 minutes. If you get distracted and don’t come back for 15, that’s fine. When you return, your powdered yeast will have turned into a healthy colony, just waiting to do your breaddy bidding.
Now crack in the egg, add the vanilla and salt, and give it another good stir. Once you have a good, thick liquid, dump in the box of cake mix. Give it a rough stir. You don’t need it to become a smooth paste. You just want to introduce the yeast to it’s sugary new meal. Now walk away for another 10 minutes.
When you come back, the yeast will have had a big foamy party in your bowl. Now it’s time to bring out the big guns. Add 5 cups of bread flour. You can use all purpose flour if you want, but I find bread flour gives it a nice extra fluffiness. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and set it going at the second setting for about 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in the remaining half a cup of flour and keep the dough hook kneading.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you have to do this the old fashioned way. Mix everything until you have an actual ball of dough, flour your working surface, and hand knead it for 6-7 minutes.
When you (or your subservient machine) are done kneading your dough, cover it with a clean dish towel and go find something else to do for an hour.
It should roughly double in that time. Punch it down like you’re beating away an unexpected zombie invader. Cover it back up, then walk away for another hour. Now is a good time to pull your stick of butter out of the fridge so it can soften up. If you really need something to occupy your time, mix your white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Congratulations. You now only have 56 minutes left to fill.
When you come back, your dough should’ve doubled in size. On a cool day, you might need to wait closer to an hour and a half.
Now comes the fun part. Thoroughly dust a clean working surface with flour. Cut your dough ball in half. This makes enough dough that you really need to work in batches.
Turn the dough out onto your working surface and roll it into as big a rectangle as you can manage. This really will depend on how much space you have available. I’ve spread mine as large as 2×3 feet before. This recipe makes a LOT of dough.
Take half your stick of butter and smear it all over your dough. Use your fingers. Really spread it around. Now take half your sugar/cinnamon mix and spread that on top of the butter. When in doubt, add more cinnamon. Go wash the butter off your fingers and get ready to roll your dough.
This isn’t rocket science. Start at a wide end and roll as tightly as you can, making a nice log. You want to leave the outer 1-2 inches of cinnamon roll dough unbuttered and unsugared so you can pinch it closed when you’re finished rolling.
Grease up a baking pan. Don’t waste your nonstick cooking spray. This isn’t health food. Just grab some of that softened butter and smear it all over the interior. Trust me.
Cut the bright red log into 2 inch wide spirals. Arrange them about 2 inches apart in your baking pan. When you run out, repeat the whole process with the second half of the dough.
I typically get 36 good sized cinnamon rolls per batch. If you want something more Cinnabon sized, go ahead and make all your dough at once. You should be able to roll it out to 3×4 feet. I find that a little unwieldy, but it’s worth it if you love dense rolls full of a million layers.
Since these red velvet cinnamon rolls are supposed to symbolize the flesh of fresh zombie victims, you have one more option for awesome looking presentation. Instead of making cinnamon rolls, you can turn it into bright red cinnamon pull apart bread. Behold:
To do so, go ahead and follow all the steps above. However, instead of neatly arranging your cinnamon rolls 2 inches apart, go ahead and unroll them. You want to arrange them in layers, like you’re building the exterior wall of a log cabin. Make sure the clean, unbuttered portion of the cinnamon roll is on top. Layer in the unrolled dough, cinnamon sides touching. Fill up your entire pan. Any leftover dough should just be made into regular cinnamon rolls.
However you filled your pan, let the dough rise for about an hour. On a cool day, it might take two. When the furthest edges of your cinnamon rolls are lightly touching, they’re ready to bake. If you went with the cinnamon pull apart bread, only let it rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You don’t want it to rise quite as much as the regular rolls.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (22-25 for the pull apart bread.)
While you’re waiting for the cinnamon rolls to bake, make your bloody red glaze. This finishing touch really sells the fleshiness of the red velvet. Whisk together your powdered sugar, vanilla, and water until they’re smooth. Add in a generous tablespoon of Nutella. This thickens it up and adds a nice chocolaty flavor to the glaze. Stir that in until it’s well integrated. Now start adding the red food coloring. It’ll take a bit before you get a good, bloody red color.
Let your cinnamon rolls cool for at least half an hour (preferably 45-60 minutes) before glazing. Otherwise, you’ll just rip the tops and make an unpalatable mess instead of a sexy fleshy mess. Paint the glaze on with a pastry brush, taking care to get it into every crevice.
These freeze surprisingly well. If you decide to make them in advance, just remember not to glaze them until just before they’re served. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
Psst! My Halloween recipes are ripped straight from the pages of Kitchen Overlord’s new cookbook: Dead Delicious!
Whether your Halloween revolves around zombies, slashers, or body horror, you can cover your table with so many eyes, ears, guts, and brains your kitchen will look like the aftermath of a horror movie. Click here to get your copy now, just in time for Halloween!