I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinnamon Rolling

I will admit it.  I love Christmas.  There's just nothing quite like it.  Every sense is constantly on overload.  Look at those lights.  Listen to the music.  Feel the fire.  Taste that delicious spread.  And smell.  Smell the amazingly sweet aroma that screams "It's the holiday season!"  I don't know what does it for you, but cinnamon is my Christmas scent.  If it's the forth of July and someone is baking cinnamon rolls, I immediately want to roll up in my Snuggie and flip on Charlie Brown.  Every since I've had kids, I've tried to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.  Usually I succeed, but they are always at least a day or two old.  Still amazing, but it never gave me that smell that I was really craving.  I almost pictured the Foldgers commercials.  You know, that smell that wakes the whole house... I was afraid that this year, it wouldn't happen because Christmas just happens to fall on Sunday, which is always a rush for my sleepy family, and we are having the big family celebration at my house.  No one wants that mess with company.  But I'm doing it.  I'm making them and freezing them so I can bake them that morning.  Oh how excited I am!  I have tried to come up with my own special cinnamon roll recipe, and though I'm far from giving up, I will stick with Paula Deen's rock solid recipe this year.  You can find her recipe here. The main change I will make is to double everything to make twice as much.  If I'm going through all this trouble, I'm going to enjoy my accolades for a long long time. Here is what I do.

What you'll need:
2 1/4 oz packages of yeast (this is roughly 4 tsps if you buy in bulk like I do...I make a lot of breads.)
1 cup of warm water
1 cup of scalded milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of melted butter (use REAL butter, people)
2 tsp of salt
2 eggs
7 to 8 cups of all purpose flour

butter for spreading
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 tbsp cinnamon

First, start by gently heating your milk, I add my butter directly to the milk.  This saves me the step of melting the butter in another dish.  If I can avoid washing dishes, I will.  Might as well kill two birds with one stone here.  When I first started cooking, I called my mom because I had no idea what "scalding" milk meant.  It's right before it boils.  If you get down even with the pan, it will steam when it is scalding.  You should also see little bubbles around the edge.

Once your milk is scalded and your butter is melted, pour it into a big bowl.  You want to do everything you can to cool this mixture off so as to avoid scrambled eggs in your cinnamon rolls.  From here, add your sugar, salt, and eggs.  In the words of Paula, be sure to add your eggs "one at the time" so they incorporate fully.  Mix it up.

You're also going to want to add your yeast to your water now.  I just get water as hot as I can from the faucet and mix in the yeast.  It works every time for me.  The yeast needs time to "bloom."

Add two to three cups of flour now, just to make it sticky and to start to incorporate.  Mix it with your electric mixer.  (Oh, Kitchenaid, you shall be mine someday...)

Once you get your flour mixed in, don't freak out if it looks like peanut butter.  That's what it reminds me of.  It's going to be super sticky and kinda hard to mix if you're using a little hand held mixer like me.  Don't fret.  That's what it's supposed to be like.

Remember that yeast you put in the water?  It should look like this.

It reminds me of....maybe chocolate milk that needs more chocolate and is foamy on top.  Don't ask me why you need it to do this.  I have no idea.  I just know if you don't do it, the recipe is a fail.

Pour in your yeasty water and mix it in.  Just a tip: if you make sure the front of beaters are as close to the edge as possible, it won't splatter near as much.

Now add the rest of your flour, just until it's pretty easy to handle.  If you add too much flour, your cinnamon rolls will be tough and hard and not as delicious.  Turn it out on a floured surface and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes.

And please, do yourself a favor and remove rings.

Once it has been kneaded enough, you can poke it with your finger and the hole will remain.

Now add to a well greased bowl, cover with a towel that is slightly damp (that keeps the dough from drying out) and hide it.  Okay, don't really hide it, but you do want your bowl-o-dough to be in a place that doesn't get a draft and is warm-ish.  This ensures it will rise.  You want it to double in size...so we wait...for an hour to an hour and a half.

While you're waiting on your dough to rise, you can go ahead and mix up your filling mixture.  I use a very simply mix of cinnamon and sugar.  Of course, you can add anything you'd like.  Pumpkin pie spice would be lovely or cloves or nutmeg.  Heck, you can add candy sprinkles if that suits your fancy.  (Note: I do NOT promote candy sprinkles in cinnamon rolls.)

Once your dough has doubled in size, it's time to punch it.  Literally.  Make a fist and shove it into the dough.  Give 'er a good punchin'.  Okay, so once really will suffice.  Next, plop it out on a floured surface, and cut your dough in half, putting half back into the bowl.  (Remember?  We doubled the recipe..)

Now roll out half of your dough until you can't handle rolling anymore.  Try to keep it in a rectangular-ish shape if at all possible.  I don't really know how thin I get it.  A quarter of an inch, perhaps...?

Next, this is where Paula Deen (actually, most recipes) and I differ.  She says use melted butter.  I say spread margarine (what?  seriously??  Not BUTTER?)  No, and here's why: I like to avoid cleaning when I can, and the spreadable margarine helps me in that.  It doesn't drip all over, and it holds the cinnamon/sugar much better while still retaining the flavor I want.  Obviously, if you're a melted butter lover, go for that.

Now sprinkle on (well, completely cover) your buttered dough.  This is where I always need the most help.  Once it's covered in the cinnamon and sugar, if you'd like to add nuts or raisins (oh, the humanity!) go ahead.

Starting from the back, (it's easier for me to roll towards me) roll the dough so that it makes a log.  Once it's all rolled up, cut it up.  You can cut them as big or as small as you want, really.  Just keep in mind that the thicker the slices, the taller the bun will be.

Spray your dish.  You can butter it, but why go to all that trouble when Pam makes it so easy?  Drop in some sugar, and roll it all around in your pan so that your pan is coated all on the bottom and sides with sugar.  It will stick very well to the cooking spray.

Place your cut rolls into your baking pans, but be sure and leave some room.  They are going to rise again, and then rise again in the oven when they bake.  Don't crowd the sweet little guys already.  From here, I am wrapping some up in plastic wrap and foil to freeze for gifts (shh! Don't tell!)

If you want to go ahead and bake them, cover them again with your damp cloth and put them back into hiding.  Let them rise again for half an hour to an hour or so, and they will double in size.  Once risen, put them in a preheated 350 degree oven for half an hour or until they are a nice light brown.  You'll smell them.

If you're making icing, do it now while they are baking.  I like using powdered sugar and milk.  I use a couple of cups of powdered sugar and a couple of tablespoons of milk.  Add a teaspoon or so of vanilla and mix.  If it's not wet enough, add a tiny bit of milk.  If it's too wet, add a touch of powdered sugar.  You just want it pourable.

Finally, once they are baked, pull them out, drench them in icing, and use as much self control as you can to abstain from gluttony.

Don't be too shocked if you have some sneaky little fingers... These are delicious!

No comments:

Post a Comment