The Food Issue

Shawn and Devan Taylor serve up tasty cinnamon rolls at 2 Sweet T’s locations

Sweet T’s offers fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls.
Sweet T’s offers fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls. The Kansas City Star

Early in the mornings, Shawn Taylor can be found singing sweet gospel music in the kitchen as she helps whip up 100, 6-inch Sweet T’s Cinnamon Rolls.

Shawn and her husband, Devan Taylor, own two Sweet T’s: a drive-through, walk-up location in Blue Springs (200 Missouri 7) and a small sit-down restaurant in downtown Kansas City (1124 Oak St.).

Both menus feature soul food: fish, chicken, brisket and pork chops, and side dishes such as yams, collard greens and mac-and-cheese, as well as cinnamon rolls for $2.50 apiece. Can’t decide what to order? Sweet T’s new downtown location serves a $10.99 all-day-buffet Friday through Sunday.

Shawn learned to make soul food from her grandmother Edna Lee of Charleston, S.C. But Devan gets credit for the cinnamon roll recipe, which he learned to make during his youth pastor days, under the watchful eye of Twila Rodgers, the cook for Kansas City’s Pentecostal Church of God in Christ.

“She taught me the discipline of baking and that you can’t rush the process of making bread,” he says. “Like most things in life, all good things come to those who wait.”

The Taylors have been married for 25 years and have five children. Eventually, they plan to open five restaurants — one for each child.

“It’s a long-term goal,” Shawn says. “When we pass Sweet T’s on to our children, I’ll be able to step out of the kitchen and onto the stage singing.”

Sweet T’s Soul Food: 1124 Oak St., Kansas City, and 200 Missouri 7, Blue Springs, 816-665-3372

Sweet T’s Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 20 (6-inch) rolls

For the dough:

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees)

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

5 cups bread flour

For the filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 cup packed brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

To make the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let mixture stand 10 minutes, or until yeast is bubbly.

In an extra-large mixing bowl, whisk 1/2 cup sugar, salt, eggs, butter and proofed yeast mixture together. Stir in 1 cup of flour at a time until a moist dough forms. Cover bowl with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 11/2 hours.

Punch down dough and turn out onto floured board. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.

To make the rolls: Spread softened butter evenly over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch edge unbuttered around the rectangle. In a small mixing bowl, combine cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough’s buttered surface. Then, working from the bottom of the 20-inch width of dough, carefully start to roll dough up, jelly-roll style. After dough is completely rolled, gently crimp to seal all edges.

Cover 4, 13-by-19-inch baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut the cylinder of dough into 20, 1-inch pieces. Place 5 unbaked rolls onto each of 4 prepared baking sheets, allowing plenty of room between each. Cover each baking sheet with a clean dish towel and allow rolls to rise again (at least 1 hour) until doubled in size or about 6 inches in width.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For the glaze: While the rolls are baking, whisk powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and milk together. Consistency should be thick, but pourable. Drizzle over rolls while still warm.

Per roll: 380 calories (30 percent from fat), 13 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 52 milligrams cholesterol, 62 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 167 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.