Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baking Adventures in the New Year!

Happy New Year! I've take quite a break from blogging -- no blogging since March, 2015! There's no particular reason, simply a lack of inspiration. I've blogged lots of recipes for many years, and sometimes I struggle to think of something new to cook and therefore, worth blogging about. Life, too, gets in the way.

In the new year, I've felt compelled to improve my baking skills. I've always made cookies, and pretty good ones, but I came late to real baking. My first bread machine, given to me around 1990, was almost an epiphany -- I could actually make yeast bread that tasted great and didn't take the whole day to make. ( See my classic dinner roll recipe HERE)  I wore that machine completely out. I am now on my second machine and use it only on the dough setting. I've also purchased a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it's expanded my baking even further. In the last few weeks, I've made buttermilk biscuits to go with our holiday Smithfield Ham and delicious  white sandwich bread for toasting and munching! It has a wonderful texture you simply can't find in store bought bread. More on that later!  One thing that I always wanted to make from scratch has been Cinnamon Rolls.

Even if you use a bread machine to do the kneading, there are still several steps you must go through to turn out these wonderful, tender, flaky and tasty treats. I opted to make the rolls the afternoon before and bake them off the next morning. That way my kitchen wasn't trashed first thing in the morning and I didn't have to roll out of bed and start the dough! Here's the recipe I used -- I found it on the internet at  and changed it only slightly-- and some advice and pictures, should you feel like you might be ready to up your baking game!

Cinnamon Rolls 
makes 12 full sized rolls 

For the Dough:
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. melted butter
4 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast (or one pkg.)

1 c, packed brown sugar
2 1/2  Tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 pinch kosher salt

3 oz. light cream cheese
1/4 c. softened butter
2 1/2 sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (only real extract, please)
1 pinch kosher salt

First, add your dough ingredients to your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. In most cases, that means the wet go in first, (warm milk, eggs, melted butter) and the dry go in starting with the flour, sugar, salt and yeast on top. Process mixture on the dough cycle. While the dough is working, clean off your counter and measure out a space of approx. 16X24". That's how big you need to roll your dough. Use plenty of flour! You don't want to do all this work and have the dough stick to the counter! I did this by making a flour rectangle directly on my granite island, like this:

I used a yard stick to measure and to square up the rectangle. I am challenged by measuring spaces accurately, so this was an important step for me. You may be able to "wing" it but I can't.

Turn the dough out onto your floured area and punch it down. It should resemble this:

Next roll it out evenly into a 16X24" rectangle. Make sure both the dough and the rolling pin are well floured. Here's what you should end up with:

Spread your filling mixture evenly over the rolled out dough. Leave about 1/2" around 3 of the edges, leaving none around the long side closet to you where you'll start to roll the dough up into a cylinder:

It will look like a lot of filling while you are rolling it, but don't worry about that. Make sure you roll the dough up as tightly as you can, and you ease it up off the counter as you roll, trying your best not to tear it!

When you've got it all rolled up, straighten the cylinder and cut off the ends to "square it up" so the your rolls are neat with clean edges. Cut the cylinder in half, then cut each half in half again, then each of those sections into 3 pieces, so you get 12 rolls total. Place the rolls cut side up into a well buttered 13X9" baking dish.

At this point you can cover the rolls with some plastic wrap and refrigerate them to bake off the  next day (that's what I did) OR you can cover them loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for about 30 minutes until they are almost doubled in size. Either way, you need to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. If you've refrigerated them overnight, let them come up to room temperature, bu leaving them out on the counter for 30 minutes before baking. Bake them for 14 - 16 minutes. While they are baking, beat together the frosting ingredients. I used my small hand mixer. Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes before icing them This recipe  makes a GENEROUS amount of frosting! Don't be shocked at how much it is!

And remember those little ends I cut off to square off the dough? Here's what I did:

I made 4 little mini-rolls as a  cooks treat! They weren't as pretty as the other ones in the big pan, but hey, it's all about the taste, right?  I was taking the big pan of 12 to a brunch, but left these home with  my hub, and boy, he was one happy camper!


                    A little bacon, a big cup of coffee and a newspaper! I am not sure he noticed I was gone... 


va_cad2012 said...

Wow that looks so delicious.

Christina said...

They look wonderful. On this snowy day I bet they smelled extra special!