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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Pretzel Rolls

I was flipping through my journal and had an occasion to remember my love for soft pretzels when I came across a small reminder:

Deep.

So I searched through some pretzel bread recipes, realized they were basically just bagels  boiled in baking soda, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t made these sooner. So easy. And it only takes about hour and a half. Mine were ready by breakfast time!

Here’s what you need:

Pretzel Rolls

  • 1 Tbs dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 and 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1/3 cup baking soda

Preparation:

1.  Place 1 Tbs yeast in the bottom of mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add 1 tsp of the total amount of sugar to the yeast. Cover with warm water and watch it activate (it’s aliiiiive) over the next 5 or so minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Once the yeast has activated, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low speed until combined and the dough forms a ball around the hook. If the dough is too dry and starts to streak in the bowl, add a little more lukewarm water, 1 Tbs at a time, until the dough begins to pull away form the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in some more flour.

3. Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, increase to medium speed and let mix for about 8 minutes. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

4. Add the tablespoon of oil to the bottom of a bowl. Once dough is ready, turn it in the bowl to coat with oil and set aside in a warm dry place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. Punch down the dough and turn it out on a floured surface. Knead for about a minute, until the dough springs back when poked. Divide the dough into equal sections (depending on how large or small you wish your rolls to be). I ended up with seven small balls of dough, and that seemed to work just fine. Roll the cut dough into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet to rise for another fifteen to twenty minutes. At this point, if you wish, you can cut a small “X” on the tops of the dough.

6. While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, fill a large saucepan with water, add the 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and bring it to a boil. I would advise against dumping the baking soda into already boiling water, as mine exploded all over the stove upon contact (not pictured). The water should be frothy. Also, preheat your oven to 425 for the pretzel baking. Oh yeah.

7. Using a slotted spoon, drop one of the balls into the boiling water for 1 minute, flipping it halfway through to boil both sides. Place on the greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

8. Once all the dough has been boiled and salted, bake them at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Breakfast is served.

Homemade English Muffins

“[English] Muffins may well originate as far back as the 10th century, yet the muffin became a fashionable bread (love it) during the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of muffin factories in existence, and the “muffin man” was a common sight.” ¹

Celebrate 2012 by making your own! Easily frozen and de-thawed so you can enjoy those homemade nooks and crannies whenever you want. No fancy electric mixer needed.

Inspired by a delicious post from a fellow food blogger’s site, pete bakes!, I amended the recipe (originally from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice) according to the ingredients I had available. Here’s what worked for me:

From-Scratch English Muffins

  • 3 cups of flour plus more for kneading
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp dry active yeast  (if you have instant yeast, follow the original recipe at the bottom of the page)
  • 1 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup of milk (room temperature)
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1/2 cup of cornmeal

Preparation:

1. Sift (or mix) 3 cups of flour and salt in large bowl.

2. Melt 1 Tbs of butter in microwave and add 3/4 cups of room temperature milk. If you microwave the milk to hasten the process, make sure that it does not scorch or become too hot.

3. Measure 1/4 cup of water from the faucet. Turn on the hot knob and wait until it is lukewarm. Dissolve 1/2 Tbs of sugar into the water and add yeast, stirring briefly to avoid lumps. Let the yeast, water and sugar stand until bubbles form and doubles in size (8 – 10 minutes).

If the yeast does not become bubbly or double the dough will not rise. In this case, consider the temperature of the water: if it is too hot the yeast will collapse and if it is too cold the reaction will not take place. If it still doesn’t work after a few trials, it’s not you, it’s the yeast – consider the expiration date or the storing method (yeast is best stored in a cool, dark place).

After a few minutes, the yeast should begin foaming on the top.

4. Pour activated yeast into milk and butter, stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour liquids in the middle. Stir with a spoon until combined, adding more flour if dough is too sticky.

5. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

6. Pour oil into large bowl and turn dough over to coat on all sides. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

7. Cut dough into eight equal parts, roll them into balls, and flatten them with the palm of your hand. If the dough is sticky, cover your work surface with a tiny bit of cornmeal.

8. Sprinkle cornmeal on foil lined baking sheet. Toss dough with cornmeal on each side. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for another hour at room temperature.

9. After an hour, the dough should be slighly puffier, but not much larger than before. Preheat the oven to 350 then heat about 1 Tbs (or more, depending on size of pan) in skillet over medium heat. Carefully scoop dough off of baking sheet and into skillet. Cook until each side browns and avoid “smushing” the dough down while cooking. Add more oil if necessary.

10. To ensure that the dough cooks all the way through, bake the muffins on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. Split with serrated knife, butter and serve. Store extra muffins in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or for longer in the freezer. (To reheat frozen muffins quickly, wrap with wet paper towel and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute).