Archive | April, 2010

cinnamon rolls (or: how to find yourself stuck in a time warp)

27 Apr

something about eating breakfast for dinner always makes me feel a bit mischievous.  it is that same feeling i got the first time i realized i was really living on my own, supporting myself, and that i could do anything i wanted. i could buy a ticket to hawaii and just go– i didn’t even have to ask my parents first! out-of-order eating turns into a mini rebellion, a little mark of my freedom and adulthood. no more of that “don’t eat that cookie, it will spoil your dinner” oppression i faced as a child, because guess what?  maybe this cookie is my dinner, and that soup? my dessert!  i can do that. im just that wild and carefree. i am that grown up.  now when i go home to visit my parents and they give me grief about pre-dinner snacking, i chuckle to myself, “ooo silly parents.  if only you knew the trouble i get into with my free-wheelin’ eating schedule.”  it would burst their delicate perfectly-timed-meal sensibilities to pieces.

the story of these cinnamon rolls however is not one of mischievous out-of-order eating.  well, it is, but not intentionally.  these cinnamon rolls were actually intended to be the main course for a romantical brunch i planned with my hetero-life partner nic, but ended up taking so gd long to make they ended up being a pre-dinner snack.  i had no idea these warm, gooey, sumptuous, eyes-closed-from-the-sweet-sinful-delight-of-them treats were such a bitch to prepare. blasted cooking light! you made it seem so easy with your meager half-page recipe length! fellow bakers, learn from my mistake: read the entire recipe before beginning, figure out how much time it will take, and then double that time (perhaps triple).   i am often convinced that i am stuck in some sort of time warp as it always seems to take me at least twice as long as a recipe says to produce anything.

now, once you have gotten over the stress of making them, there is something so comforting about cinnamon rolls.  the layers of soft, flaky dough flecked with cinnamon sugar and topped with a warm, dripping glaze.  i can feel the inner warmth spreading  just thinking about them.   in retrospect, it makes sense that i would choose to make something with such positive, cozy feelings attached to it when vacationing in my favorite spot– my grandfather’s house, or the old homestead as i like to think of it.  it is a beautiful yellow victorian on the eastern shore of maryland, literally in the middle of nowhere, chock-full of family history, and i’m pretty sure quite a few family ghosts.  (at least i had kinship and wafting cinnamon rolly scents on my side to keep them at bay.)  just being in that house makes me ridiculously happy and feel a sense of calm that is way too often lacking in my day-to-day life. thank goodness my timing blunder took place in this environment where i was incredibly sedate, or lord only knows how crazy i might have gotten when the sun set without my rolls yet complete.

but enough of the sentimental clap-trap… on to the recipe, so you, too, can spend a day salivating over the longest cinnamon roll process on the planet.

cinnamon rolls: (from cooking light magazine)

what you’ll need: 
1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
6 tbsp melted butter, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 package quick-rise yeast
16.88 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 ¾ cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp salt
cooking spray
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp ground cinnamon

1. combine milk, 3 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. let it stand for 5 mins. weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups.  add egg and remaining sugar to bowl. stir in 4.5 ounces (1 cup) flour. let it stand for 10 mins.

2. add 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour and salt to milk mixture. stir until a soft dough forms.  the dough will be sticky… and nearly impossible to remove from your hands. (this will result in a lot of hilarity, not to mention a very serious case of the dreaded dough hands.) turn out onto a lightly floured surface. knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes). add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (…ha, good luck).

3. place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn the dough to coat the top. cover and let it rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 35 mins on until it doubles in size. (now unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to get the heat to work in this bloomin’ house. i blame my father and his fancy heating system… and all those switches… and the creepy basement.  finding a warm place was next to impossible, so we improvised and put the oven on low and then stuck the bowl o’ dough on top of it. you really shouldn’t follow my example on this one as this apparently warms the dough unevenly and makes things a bit wonky, but it did suffice so i’m not complaining.)

4. after 35 minutes, check the dough. gently press two fingers into the dough. if the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough and we may proceed to the next step… which is to take your aggression out on your poor innocent dough and punch it.  really teach that dough who is boss.

once you have beaten it into submission (and it is cowering in fear), cover it back up and let it rise for another 35 mins or until it has doubled in size.  punch the dough again (because you are a sadistic beast of a baker); cover and let it rise another 5 mins.

5. combine brown sugar and cinnamon. turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into an 18 x 11-inch rectangle. (as you can see, we did not have a rolling-pin.  luckily we did have the fortitude necessary to polish off this bottle of wine, which substituted nicely.) brush remaining 3 tbsp of the melted butter over the dough. (applaud yourself if you still have the remaining melted butter sitting around rather than having accidently washed it along with all the dirty dishes that were starting to threaten your safety.) sprinkle dough evenly with brown sugar mixture. beginning at one of the long sides, roll the dough tightly, and then pinch the seam to seal. (but do not seal the ends of the roll. that would just be silly.)

6. cut dough into 18 1-inch slices. arrange 9 slices, cut sides up, in each of 2 8-inch square baking dishes coated with cooking spray. cover and let rise for 35 mins or until doubled in size.  (hope you had nowhere to be. all. day. long.)

7. preheat oven to 350°.

8. uncover rolls and bake for 22 mins or until lightly browned. cool for 10 mins in dishes on wire racks. turn the rolls out onto the wire racks and cool another 5 mins. turn the rolls over.

icing:

what you’ll need:
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1. combine softened butter and cream. stir with a whisk. stir in vanilla. gradually add powdered sugar and stir until blended.

2. spread the icing over the rolls; serve warm.

it may take you the better part of your day year life to make these, but don’t the figurative “they” say the best things come to those who wait?