For those of you (Devin) who happen to follow this blog, it's taken a turn - for the better, I believe. What was an aimless collection of writings and ramblings about how much I love words has become a purposeful means for tackling all of the cooking/baking projects I plan to embark on before I apply to culinary school. I'm studying linguistics at the College of William & Mary at the moment and plan on graduating in a year and a half's time - and at that point, hopefully I'll have the resources to carry out my actual dreams.
In the meantime, I made cinnamon rolls:
This was my first real venture into the art of bread-baking. I've never really worked with yeast on my own before, but I can confidently say these turned out DAMN good. I had a couple different recipes I was working from, doing a combination of what was easiest and what was cheapest. That seems to be the plan. And luckily, cinnamon rolls have a few corners that can be cut. My primary recipe came from here
But I found that although the recipe itself was nice, the instructions were minimal. Which means I was cluelessly searching for another recipe with some more solid details on what to do with all this flour. And this recipe called for bread flour - something the others did not. I learned from a reliable baking source (see Sam Draxler) that bread flour simply has more proteins in it for doing all that glutinous stuff flour does when it gets wet. I did splurge on bread flour for this one, but I don't think it'll be necessary for next time. And let me tell YOU, with these cinnamon rolls there will be a next time. Let me publish my simplified recipe here so any interested can save themselves the trouble and settle on this primo cinnamon roll
Here's what you'll need:
5 cups flour (all purpose, bread flour, what you have will work)
3 ounces or 1 package dry instant active yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup (softened) butter
3/4 cup chopped nuts (if you would like - I didn't want them)
2 oz. cream cheese - room temp
1/4 cup butter - also room temp (makes it so much easier to stir)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Here's what you'll do:
Start with 1 1/2 cups of the flour, and add the packet of yeast. Stir them all together until they're evenly combined. Then you're gonna put the milk, water, vanilla, and stick of butter in a microwave safe dish and heat it for about 2 minutes or until it's very warm. You don't want it boiling, but you want it hot. It may help to squish the butter into pieces first if it's not softened. This is what I did. The mess is half the fun. So add that heated liquid mixture to your bowl and beat it. I used an handheld electric beater but whipping it fast with a whisk would suffice. Then add the eggs and sugar and continue beating. Now you're going to add the rest of the flour a cup or so at a time. It'll get nice and doughy in no time. Keep stirring until you manage to get it all into one nice ball. At that point you're going to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for ten minutes. Find something to do in the meantime. I cleaned up the first part of my mess. There's plenty more to come.
After ten minutes, you're going to pull that ball of dough out and knead it until its proteins succumb to your insatiable power and it starts to be come elastic. (Give that about ten minutes as well.) It will also help to spray some cooking oil or something similar onto your work surface so that your dough doesn't end up laminating your countertop. Once you've beat the shit out of it, you can attempt to roll it out into a rectangle. Make it long and wide, the exact measurements don't particularly matter but mine was about 20" by 12". Next time I'll have pictures, but for this recipe you'll just have to make do.
CINNAMON FILLING TIME
You can prepare this while you wait for the dough to sit if you'd like. It's fast and easy. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and in a separate bowl break up the butter into little bits. Or if it's not softened, you can just melt it. Whatever works. Use a pastry brush or something similar and spread that butter all over the flat rectangle of dough. Then take the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture and smother it. If you think you're putting too much on, you probably are. Depending on the size of your rectangle, you probably won't need to use it all. Finally, start lengthwise and roll that little bugger up, being careful not to roll it too tightly or when they start to bake and rise the centers will pop up and go wild. Unless you're into that kind of thing. Then be my guest. Pinch the top flap of the dough to the rest of the roll so it stays fastened. This can be frustrating but give it a shot, it'll pay off. Now you're going to score them. Take a serrated knife and mark a little cut right in the middle of the roll. Then divide each half into two, and each quarter into three - making a total of 12 rolls. You can really do this anyway you'd like, but this turned out really well for me. Apply pressure to the knife and cut right through at each slit, being careful not to squash the filling all out on the sides. If it happens, it happens. But the more of that gooey yums that stays inside, the better. Arrange these in a greased 13x9x2 baking sheet (the kind you'd use for a cake) and make sure they aren't quite touching each other or the sides. Cover and let them sit somewhere warm for 1 HOUR. CAUTION: WAITING THIS LONG WILL BE THE HARDEST PART. They need time to rise and get fluffy.
After an hour, pop those in your 350 degree pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden to your liking. When there's about five minutes to go you can make THIS:
Combine the butter and cream cheese, melt it a bit if you have to. It needs to be all squished together. Then add the cup of powdered sugar and vanilla and stir it all up until it looks like frosting. Now as soon as those puppies come out of the oven smother that frosting all over every single one of them. Cinnamon rolls do not tolerate inhibitions, especially in the frosting sector. Every one will be goopy and drizzly and perfectly scrumptious. And make sure you eat one right when they come out. This will be the best one, no matter what anyone else says. And if you can savor it alone, or with a special someone, then do that. It will be entirely worth the privacy.
*Also, you can totally make these up to the point where you're about the bake them and FREEZE them or refrigerate them for up to a month. Just cover the tray with plastic wrap and chill. Try and bring them to room temp before you bake them though, so they can bake evenly.
Well guys, there you go. My first attempt at a blogging recipe. I hope this works out for all of you. And I hope you try it. You should.
Signing out (with a belly full of cinnamon rolls),