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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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

When my awesome, foodie friend named vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream as her favorite cake/icing combination, I couldn’t help but feeling uninspired. I prefer the richest cakes possible, you know, like a chocolate icing on chocolate cake smothered in chocolate ganache type. So, for her birthday (yay! 23!) I put my own tastes aside and made her some  vanilla on vanilla and boy, was I glad I did.

I found this awesome recipe on a fellow baking blog, my baking addiction, that calls for the seeds of a vanilla bean, to make this cake a little more memorable.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

  • 2  1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  1/4 cups whole milk (room temperature)
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, soft
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 24 oz powdered sugar
  • 4-6 Tbs whole milk

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2.  Whisk milk and eggs in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and use the knife, or your fingernail, to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix to incorporate. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add about 1/3 of the flour to the butter and sugar and mix until combined. Add half of the milk and eggs and mix until combined. Repeat until all of the flour and liquid have been added and then mix on high speed for 2 minutes to aerate.

5. Line cupcake pan with tins and fill each 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden. While they’re baking, whip up some icing!

6. For the icing, place softened butter in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

7. Add the vanilla extract and any food coloring you want to use. Once combined, assess the consistency of the icing. If you want to thicken, add more powdered sugar. If you want a thinner product, slowly add the milk until you reach the consistency you want.

8. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, place icing in pastry bag fitted with metal icing tip, if you have them. You could also just use a knife to slab it on. Decorate any way you choose!

I Heart Cookies

As we all (both haters and not) know, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. So even if you think the holiday is lame sauce or plan to be a sourpuss all day in protest, you might still want to make some cookies. And you might want to decorate them with heart, if only to be ironic. Or, you might want to say “I love you” with a sugar cookie. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

First, whip up a batch of these simple sugar cookies, which might look familiar.  While they cool, gather a whisk or set up an electric mixer with the whipping attachment to make the icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or syrup
  • A few tablespoons of water (amount varies depending on the thickness you want)
  • Red food coloring

Preparation:

1. Whisk powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla extract to combine. Slowly add water until the mixture comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to free any clinging powdered sugar. Continue whipping for a few minutes. You want to achieve a thick consistency that will hold shape after being piped onto a sheet tray. A good way to tell if your icing is thick enough is to let it sit for ten minutes and then press your finger lightly on the top. If a shell has started to form, it is the right consistency. If it sticks to your finger, add some powdered sugar and blend until smooth.

And with this icing, here’s how you make the “I Heart Cookies”.

1. Reserve half of the icing that you have made in a separate bowl and use it to ice the cookies first.

2. Add red food coloring, drop by drop, until you reach color that you like. I stopped once and reserved a cup or so of the pink color and then continued to add dye to make a darker red.

3. Locate a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, or fold some wax paper (like this) to make one. I have a metal tip attachment, but if you don’t your hearts will be just as lovely. To fill, insert the tip of the bag into a cup and pull the ends down around the sides.

Use the side of the cup as resistance to scrape some of the icing off of your spatula and into the bag. Once you have a good squeezable amount in the bag, slowly squeeze and twist the icing towards the tip and cut it.

4. Practice on a sheet of parchment paper (or foil) by squeezing a few lines and, eventually, work your way up to a heart shape. I started with an outline that I then filled in with a few mimicking strokes. You want the heart to be thick and to hold its shape. If the icing does not, you will need to go back to the beginning and add more powdered sugar. And if you use all of the icing and end up with a mess, just scrape it back off the parchment and try again. There are many different techniques, so just have fun with it and figure out what works best for you.

5. Put the icing hearts into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once they are frozen into shape, use a thin spatula to scrape them from the parchment and place them in the center of each cookie.