Cinnamon Rolls

 

These cinnamon rolls are rich. Gooey, heavy, and rich. But isn’t that exactly how a cinnamon roll should be? Here’s to excessive breakfast pastries, not getting off the couch for a few hours, and living richly, if only for a morning.

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 2.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tbs
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3.5 cups flour, perhaps more

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter (soft)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs cinnamon

Not So Optional Glaze

  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3-6 Tbs hot water, depending on thickness desired

Preparation:

1. Place 1 Tbs of sugar and yeast together in a small bowl. Add warm water and let rest.

2. In large bowl, whisk milk, eggs and melted butter together until uniform. Add the rest of the sugar and salt and continue whisking.

3. Once the yeast mixture has become bubbly and active, add it to the other wet ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, to the wet ingredients, and stir until dough becomes slightly stiff. It should still be sticky when you turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until a cohesive dough ball has formed and the dough springs back lightly when pressed. Set dough aside in warm, dry place to rise for 1.5 hours.

 

5. While dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Hopefully by now your butter for the filling has been sitting out long enough to be room temperature – still solid but completely soft and spreadable. If not, you can cut the butter into small pieces (so that they will reach room temperature faster) and let them sit out while the dough rises. You can also, at this time, prepare the not so optional glaze by whisking melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and hot water together until a glaze forms. You can thicken the glaze with more powdered sugar, or thin it out with more hot water.

5. Once dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle, about 15×20 inches. Use a pastry brush or rubber spatula to spread the soft butter all the way across the dough then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.

6. Roll the dough from the side closest to you up to meet the other end. Press the ends together to seal the log of dough and cut into 15 or so (depending on how large you want each roll to be) segments, being careful not to “saw” into the dough with the knife.

7.  Arrange rolls swirl side up about 1/2 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet or, do as I did and bake individual cinnamon rolls in cupcake tins. Both methods require baking at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Rolls will be done when they smell irresistible and have become golden brown in color.

8. Drizzle with glaze, and live richly.

 

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Fool Proof Savory Pie Crust

Quick, easy and fool proof pie crust. It’ll be deliciously flaky and sturdy enough for your heaviest fillings.  Savory pies generally don’t need a second crust, so note that this recipe makes one 9″ pie crust.

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 Tbs butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Preparation

1. Sift flour and salt together in large bowl. Add shortening and butter.

2. “Cut” the fat into the dry ingredients with a small spatula or knife. Don’t use your hands or any warm utensil that might melt the shortening.

Once you have broken up and evenly distributed the fat, it should look like this:

3. Add the cold water and vinegar to the bowl and knead with your hands until the dough forms a ball. Ez as that! If you’re using it right away, turn out onto a well floured surface to roll out.

5. Trim the excess from the lip of the pan with a sharp knife and patch any gaps with the extra dough. Make sure to work quickly here so as not to melt the shortening.

Now, if you’d like, you can learn How to Crimp and Flute a Pie Crust to make your crust looks like this:

Fool Proof Sweet Pie Crust

After testing and reworking several pie crust recipes, I finally decided upon this one. The vinegar really helps produce a flakier pie crust because the acid prevents long gluten strands from accumulating. This is the perfect sweet pie crust. Easy to roll out and form, deliciously flaky and aromatic.

Fool Proof Sweet Pie Crust (yields two approximately 9″ pie crusts)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Preparation:

1. Sift flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add shortening and cubed butter. Use the biscuit method to combine the fats into the flour until pea sized lumps appear.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg with water and vinegar until consistent.

3. Pour liquids over flour mixture and stir until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough.

4. Chill the dough for fifteen minutes in the fridge before turning it out onto a well floured surface. Roll the dough into any shape and thinness you desire.

If you’re making a pie with an unbaked crust, chill the dough while you prepare the filling to prevent the butter from softening prematurely. Fill and bake in the bottom third of the oven with the edges covered in tin foil for the first fifteen minutes of baking. For double crust pies, cover the entire top with perforated tin foil (to let out some of the steam) for the first twenty minutes of baking.

If your recipe calls for a pre-baked pie crust (AKA blind baked pie crust, often recommended for moisture rich pies), form the dough into the proper shape and bake at 350  for 15-20 minutes or until it becomes a light, golden color. Cool crust to room temperature before filling. Brush crust with egg wash before final baking to help prevent the crust from crisping too quickly.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Maybe Gravy

Obviously, there’s nothing better than a warm buttermilk biscuit. But it’s Le Sunday, so why not eat like a Queen/King and heap on the gravy? You might not feel like getting off the couch for bit, but you certainly won’t regret it.

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice in 3/4 cup of whole milk
Preparation:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and combine.
2. Cut chilled butter into smaller sections, and disperse throughout the flour.The goal here is to break up the butter into smaller chunks within the flour before it melts in our hands. One method involves rubbing a handful of the mixture vigorously between your palms until it sifts out, but feel out what works for you. If you’re still not getting the hang of it, check out the beginner basics on the biscuit method.
Just make sure to stop when the mixture begins to look like this:
3.  Add the buttermilk and use your hands or a wooden spoon to slowly work the liquid into the dough.
In order to make sure the biscuits stay crumbly when baked, do not over mix the dough. It should look like it’s way too dry and crumbling apart. Resist the urge to add more liquid.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pile the dough onto a floured surface and press it with your palms until it is about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.Use a cookie cutter or another kitchen device (like a jar lid) to form the biscuits and place them “shoulder to shoulder” on a cookie sheet (they will use each other rise -neat huh?).
5. Bake biscuits for 9 minutes or until tops and sides are deliciously golden.
Serving suggestions, as if any are needed, might include more butter, jam, honey, Nutella, leftover fried chicken. Or maybe, make some gravy.
Sausage Gravy
  • About a pound of uncooked sausage. I thought I cheaped by buying Jimmy Dean, but this guy would disagree.
  • About 1 Tbs black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1.5 cups to 2 cups milk or cream (depending on how thick you like your gravy)
  • Tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cook the sausage and spices of your choosing over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the meat it is no longer pink.

2. Reduce to low heat, corral the cooked meat on one side of the pan and tilt it slightly so that the oil goes to the opposite side. Add flour to exposed oil, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk them together until the liquid is thicker and your strokes expose the skillet.

3. Stir sausage with the flour and oil and add 1.5 cups of milk or cream. Let the gravy simmer on low heat until it thickens. If it thickens too much, add some milk and stir. If it is too thin, add some flour and stir.

4. Slop over biscuits (it won’t be pretty) and fill up for the start of the week.

I’m Lazy Shortbread Cookies

Somewhere between an awkward craigslist roommate situation, securing a new job (baking! full time! with my own recipes!), and trying to move to an area where the neighborhood HEB takes itself seriously, I’ve failed to post. I’ve come back, however, to this blog, eager to settle in and share some things I’ve been learning…

A few week ago, when my boss asked what I was prepared to make as a wintertime themed baked good, I was still wearing shorts and arriving to work sweating. And I realized that it was almost December, that I really didn’t feel like adding another item to my production, and, most importantly, that I had gotten a little lazy.

You see, when I first started my job I would have licked the floors if they had asked me to. I was so excited to be offered the opportunity to bake all day long for money, I felt like I owed them something. The first few months I worked at the cafe I checked out library books, read up online at other baking blogs, and tried new recipes consistently at home and now I found myself wanting to tell my boss to stuff it at the mention of more work that I had to do.

And so, thinking mainly of what I could make with very little time and fuss, I suggested a shortbread cookie. Only three ingredients, shortbread is quick, easy and, consequently, insanely adaptable for different pars.

2 cups butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 4.5 cups flour

Start with the butter which should be soft (if not, throw your butter into the mixer for a few minutes, let it slowly warm up) and add the sugar. Let the butter and the sugar mix for a few minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Repeat this as many times as you need to until the chunks of butter disappear and it no longer resembles the picture to the left.

Add the flour all at a time and eventually

from this

you get this:

Brilliant. And the dough is extremely forgiving, easy to roll out and holds its form during baking . Bonussss.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. I am going to try a rectangle shape to each cookie (about 3/4 inch thickness) so I rolled and cut my dough accordingly. Cookie cutters should also work nicely with this dough.

I used a toothpick to make three decorative holes in the dough before baking  (to add an individual touch without being too elaborate).

And baked them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes and yummmm.

They’re buttery and slightly sweet all on their own, but I’m thinking next time a little spice might do them good – cinnamon, rosemary, or (duh) chocolate.