"The homemade ones seem to dry out," Martin said. "These don't seem to dry out."
It is an improvised recipe she was willing to share with Herald-Mail readers.
The first thing you notice about Martin's cinnamon rolls are the smell of the embedded cinnamon and the sugar from butter-cream frosting.
Martin likes to serve them warm. The texture is not quite as airy as your morning long John, but not nearly as dense as a vending-machine sticky bun. Instead, a fork would break through the coils of dough as it would with a rather moist sweet bread.
Martin's cinnamon rolls are ideal for people with a bit of time on their hands and who are not intimidated by ingredients that rise or need to be punched.
Basically, it helps to have a certain comfort level with yeast and bread making.
"A lot of people are afraid of yeast doughs, because you have to be so very careful with them," Martin said. "But, actually, they're very easy to work with."
Martin presented a fairly straightforward recipe that seemed to back that up.
Martin, the youngest of 11, said she grew up cooking in her home. Her mother was known mostly for her pies and cakes.
"She wasn't big on cookies and cinnamon rolls," Martin said. "I don't remember her ever making anything with yeast, but she let us help her in the kitchen from little up, and that's how we got our love for cooking."
Martin is head of the kitchen committee at North Side Mennonite Church. She used to sell baked goods from her home and worked for years at Penn Avenue Meats, retiring in February 2009.
In 2005, Martin's pecan-glazed butter crescents won The Herald-Mail's Cookie Exchange contest. Her toffee-almond sandies cracked the top 10 in 2007.
These days, Martin does most of her cooking for her church, her husband Roger and their four now-adult children.
Q&A with Hagerstown baker Dorothy Martin
Q: Tell me about your first bread-baking experience. That could be scary if you've never done it.
A: My first bread-baking experience, they sunk in the middle. Then I learned a few tricks about how to handle the yeast breads and they came out better. This (the cinnamon rolls) I learned, you don't have to be so very, very careful with yeast breads.
This (the cinnamon rolls), when it raises the first time, you literally take your fists and punch it down to get rid of the air bubbles. And I tell my girls (three grown daughters, the youngest of whom is 41), don't be afraid of the yeast dough. Put it out on your counter top and roll it out like you mean business, you know?
They like when I come to their house and help them make the cinnamon rolls instead of them doing it themselves. I tell them they can do it because I let them do it when I'm there. But they just feel better when I'm right there with them.
Q: You mentioned you made doughnuts before. Did you just make them for breakfast?
A: No, no because it takes a couple of hours for them to raise and then to cut and then fry. So I usually make them on a day I don't have much else to do. And then I froze them because the mix made a lot of doughnuts and I would glaze them. Sometimes I would put them in the freezer unglazed because that way the glaze didn't get sticky, but the kids didn't mind. They liked them however.
Q: When would you typically serve the doughnuts?
A: That evening at dinner. Or, where we used to live (near Sharpsburg), that's when I made the most. That's when our kids were teenagers and they had lots of neighbors and of course the doughnuts didn't last long because the neighbor kids came in and helped themselves, too, which was fine.
Q: Doughnuts, now those don't strike me as being very easy to do.
A: They're not hard at all. It just takes time, that's what.
Q: So does using doughnut mix cut down on the time it takes to make cinnamon rolls?
A: It's really about the same amount of time, maybe a little less for doughnuts, but then you've got your frying to do in deep fat for your doughnuts. Probably one isn't any healthier than the other.
Q: I was going to ask about the health aspect. Do you do a lot of cooking with fat?
A: No, I don't do a lot of cooking with fat. The whole recipe takes a pound of butter. ... It looks like a lot of butter but it works. It helps to keep them moist.