Tag Archives: cinnamon

Buns & Rolls: Daring Baker thinks they’re finger lickin’ good

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This challenge had several factors that had me smiling all the way to the end of this month:  bread, cinnamon, more bread, nuts, and stickiness.  Definitely something to look forward to.  No special equipment to purchase, no new cooking utensil I could rationalize buying when I shouldn’t spend the money, and no strange ingredients I’d have to trek to Whole Foods for (bummer).  In fact, I had every single ingredient in the house.  Now that is certainly my kind of recipe.

I am a lover of cinnamon rolls.  Well, that’s not quite honest.  I’m a lover of Cinnabons.  They’ve ruined me forever and I haven’t found a cinnamon roll I’ve enjoyed since.  Sticky buns?  I discovered those years ago when I saw a woman at work slathering butter over one before she popped it into the microwave.  The whole nutty, shiny, buttery look of it had me drooling and I’ve been in love with them since that day.  But I’ve never made either, so that made the Daring Baker’s September Challenge all the more fun.

The recipe, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, seemed fairly straight forward, so I immediately began thinking about what might do to shake things up a bit.  I asked my huzbink what he thought.  Big mistake. 

"So honey, what do you think should go on the cinnamon rolls?  I could add raisins, or dried cherries, apples…"  I start, already knowing what his response will be.  "Well…" he says, "I prefer them with just cinnamon.  And frosting.  You know.  Like the kind that’s on Cinnabons," he finishes, never taking his eyes off the baseball game.  "I’m not allowed to put that frosting on these," I remind him even though he knows that, and I think he’s trying to coerce me to cheat, but I don’t say this out loud or he’ll scowl at me. "What about the sticky buns," I persist, trying to get his undivided attention."  "What sticky buns?" he says, turning to look at me.  " I’m making those, too.   I can put pecans, or walnuts," I start and he immediately cuts me off.  "I don’t like walnuts," he says like this is new information and I haven’t heard it umpteengazillion times.

Fine.  You certainly can’t say I haven’t been persistent over the years trying to get my beloved walnuts into a recipe instead of having to constantly substitute pecans.  You get the idea, though, right?  Not a whole lotta wiggle room on this challenge.  So I’ll be lookin’ forward to what the rest of the Daring Bakers might create.  Many heartfelt thanks to Marce at Pip in the City for her great choice and for being a great hostess!  For the recipes, please look here.

I had to have some kind of a challenge, so what would that be?  To finally use the Proof setting on the range I’ve had for nearly three years.  The weather was more cool than usual, and the sun wasn’t out, so I decided to use the oven to make sure my dough rose properly.  With that in mind, I set about my work while watching recorded shows of "What Not to Wear" which I’d seriously need the advice of after eating all the buns I was getting ready to make.

                            Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon and Sticky Buns

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First Off:  I actually got the milk out to set at room temperature just like the recipe said. Was I off to a great start, or what?  But then I got to the yeast and the whole 2 tsp. thing.  This always seems to be a bit of an issue to me.  I purchase it in packages of three because that’s what’s available.  I even took the time to make sure I had "Rapid-Rise" yeast, although I had a bit of a start because I didn’t think it was true that "Instant" was the same as rapid-rise.  But I proceeded boldly ahead, cut all three tops off the packages and poured into a little ramekin just waiting to be measured.

And Then:  I creamed when I was supposed to cream.  That means I used the paddle attachment for my Kitchen Aid, Big Bertha.  But then it said "whip" so I switched to the whip attachment before adding the eggs and the lemon zest.  I ignored the kitchen gods in my head telling me to not do this.  Of course, the whip didn’t quite get to the edge of the bowl, so I had to scrape the contents from the side to incorporate it before sheepishly looking out my kitchen window to see if the neighbors were laughing at me.  Not really.  So, ah, the paddle attachment went back on.

But Next:  It was time to add the yeast.  And I have to say that I came to a screeching halt here.  I can count on one finger a bread recipe I’ve made that has me adding yeast to cold ingredients.  Uh.  No.  So I took a look at the yeast package.  Even more interestingly (you’re totally enthralled, aren’t you?) the package says with this particular type of yeast, it should be mixed with the dry ingredients and liquid heated to about 130 degrees for it to work properly. 
SO I FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PACKAGE.  I put the milk in the micro-slave to warm it up.  I did.  I couldn’t help it.  Sorry.  It just seemed wrong not to.  And then I dumped it into the bowl of the mixer and continued on my merry way.  Lightning did not strike me, so it must have been fine.
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Uh…Except:  A funny thing happened on the way to "until the dough forms a ball."  Uh…it never did.  So I added flour in 1/8 c. increments until a ball finally formed and I could switch to the hook attachment.  It took nearly a whole cup of flour more!  That’s quite a bit. 

And So: I merrily continued mixing and looking carefully for the time when "the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky."  Uh, I will refrain from telling you what I think that sounds like… =)  And wonder of all wonders, I had to add flour in 1/16 c. increments to get it to that perfect state of dough magic.  In total, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cup more.  My mixer Big Bertha must have been in seventh heaven, because she was slap-slapping that dough in quite the rhythmical fashion to such an extent that I couldn’t leave her unattended or she’d shimmy off onto the floor.  Whoa, big girl!  Who knew buns & rolls could be so sensual?

Finally: I was able to try out the proofer in my oven.  I needed a pan of boiling water to maintain the moisture in the oven.  I set it to "Proof" and it was to maintain and 85 degree temperature.  I was to avoid opening the oven.  This is a bit like telling someone not to run with scissors, you know?  Especially since the steam had the window fogged up and I couldn’t see anything.  But I was committed to not peek. 

I thought at least an hour would be needed, so went upstairs to blog a bit at 2:43 precisely. 

Time flies, doesn’t it?  I went downstairs at 4:10, completely forgetting that I should have checked at least once to see how the dough was doing.   Img_3951

Uh…I guess my oven proofer setting works swell, doesn’t it?

Laughing Hysterically Horrified:  I poked the dough a bit and it collapsed like a dirigible, so I grabbed it and slapped it onto the greased counter pushing it into shape.  The rolling pin wasn’t necessary as the dough quickly was shaped into a good sized rectangle and sprinkled with the sugar.  Again, I wondered just how things would turn out considering all the work that dough did.  Would they have any substance, or just be air filled buns? *inserts fist into mouth and cringes*

Relieved:  I cut 8 slices in the "cigar" with a very sharp knife being ever so meticulous to not squash it.  Four would be for cinnamon rolls and four would be for sticky buns.  I patted them a bit while placing them on their pan, knowing they’d be a tad on the big side.  If they couldn’t be gooey, hell, then they’d be humongous.

Drooling:  The caramel glaze for the sticky buns went together quickly (I used vanilla to flavor it) and it was quite the challenge to not lick my fingers.  I kept looking at it and wondering if I was somehow making the frosting for the cinnamon rolls because it looked more like frosting. I must have looked back at the recipe two or three times worried that I’d committed a FUBAR.  Hilarious!  I crunched some walnut halves (the-huzbink-loses-too-bad-so-sad) in my fist and sprinkled them over the caramel glaze before setting the fat rolls on top in an 8" x 8" glass baking pan.
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Moving Right Along:  The second proofing wasn’t timed.  I put the rolls back in the oven
without the heat, and left the door open a bit to keep an eye on
them.  When they were gargantuan, I took them out to put in the oven to cook.

Anxiously:  You really have to keep an eye on those puppies.  Using a convection setting at 350 degrees F, the cinnamon rolls baked for only 10 minutes and the sticky buns for 20.  This was quite a bit less time that the recipe stated.  The sticky buns were so dark on top and I believe were ready to burn. Upon inspection, after turning them out of their pan, the center was of a softer consistency than the edges and I worried that it wasn’t cooked through.
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Ah…satisfaction:  My goodness, they’re so pretty I almost gave them names.  The cinnamon rolls were very soft, bread-like in texture and not too sweet.  The fondant was just the right touch with only a drizzle on top.  No, it wasn’t Cinnabon frosting, but neither were the rolls gooey.  The huzbink oohed over them between bites, looking fondly at them after he took another bite.  So I guess they passed inspection.  I did add a drizzle of melted dark chocolate to one just to give it a try. (Those of you who are hanging on my every word, please see decadent photo at the end of the post.) It was very pleasant, but the chocolate over-powered the cinnamon, which I truly enjoy.  I will try these cinnamon rolls again, but experiment with the cinnamon sugar and the frosting.

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And then the angels in heaven sang:  The sticky buns are seriously to die for.  Oh.  My. Goodness.  With butter on top and a hot cup of Irish Breakfast Tea with cream.  Totally delicious.  With walnuts and not pecans.  Walnuts(I scraped those on my huzbink’s sticky bun off onto mine…=)) Just wonderful.  Even more so the next morning.  The ONLY thing I’d do differently is to put MORE of the caramel glaze and nuts in the pan before baking.  I would need a larger pan so the caramel wouldn’t over flow (which it did a bit) and perhaps put some foil over the buns once they’ve been in the oven and are well-browned.  A girl just can’t get too much gooey-ness on her buns, can she?

Not exactly diet food, is it?

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And just in case you haven’t quite had enough…a few antioxidants never hurt anyone.

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Spanish Churros & Cinnamon Ice Cream

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I think I’m actually going to make my entry for Sugar High Friday # 34. The Sugar High Fridays event was created by Jennifer of the Domestic Goddess and is the "oldest and most revered virtual food blogging event" ever.  Goodness.  Am I worthy?  It will be the very first time I manage to enter (because my Raspberry Creme Brulee was a day late last month), although by my Pacific Coast time, it is a bit after 10 PM, so I’d better write quickly.

The event is being hosted this month by thepassionatecook who has asked us all to consider local food with tradition, if possible, and a story to accompany it as well.  Hmmm…so this one takes me back to 1964 when I was about 8 years old and my family had moved to the south of Spain.  My father was in the Navy, and the five of us packed up and left the United States for a stay that ended up lasting for four years — one of the only families in my grade school who had stayed that long.  Lucky me.  They were the best years of my childhood.

When we first arrived, we lived in a small town called Chipiona.  We lived not too far from the town market that I loved to visit.  One of my favorite places in the outdoor market was the place where churros were made.  Ahh…churros.  The lovely combination of crunch on the outside and warm softness on the inside.  Perfect.  The smell wafted through the marketplace, and athough I couldn’t have one each time we went, I’d still long for some.  When I was fortunate enough to have churros, I’d watch the man pipe spiraling tubes of dough into the large tub of very hot fat, frying it until golden brown, flipping it once, and then dousing it with a dose of granulated sugar before breaking it into sticks, and wrapping it in a newspaper cone.  Fried dough heaven if there ever was one.

When I was much older, and purchased an electric wok, the first thing I wondered about wasn’t Asian cuisine.  It was whether I could make churros.  At that time, I was able to purchase a box mix and attempt to form the lovely strips of fried loveliness with a cookie press.  A bit awkward, but tasty, just the same.  The only part of it all that bothered me was heating oil to such a high temperature with small children in the house, and I had two at the time.  Unfortunately, I did not try to make churros more than once, and have gotten by on those sold in local shops that sometimes have to heat them before serving because they aren’t fresh.  How sad is that?

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Churros, which are long narrow Spanish fritters, are not difficult to make, nor is the recipe complicated.  If you search for recipes on the Internet, you will find all kinds of interesting ingredients and claims of "authenticity."  In reality, churros are made of flour, water, a bit of oil, and a pinch of salt.  That’s all.  No butter, no cream, no eggs, and no… no cinnamon.  Just a liberal sprinkling of sugar when they’re fresh out of the hot oil.  Simple — if you can get past the heated oil, which still makes me nervous.

A friend of mine gave me a cookbook for my birthday last year called, La Cocina de Mama:  The Great Home Cooking of Spain by Penelope Casas.  This recipe is published in her book, and is one taken from Rufino Lopez, owner of Solera in New York City.  It is the closest version to the marketplace churros of my childhood that I have found.

Churros de Rufino Lopez

1-1/2 tsp mild olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 cup unbleached flour

oil for frying
granulated sugar for dusting

To make the churros, bring 1 cup water, the oil, and the salt to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a  wooden spoon until a smooth ball forms.  Lower the heat and cook, flattening and turning the dough for 2 minutes.  Cool and transfer to a pastry bag equipped with a 3/8-inch star tip (the fluted edge is essential).

Pour the oil to a depth of at least 1 inch in a skillet (or better still, use a deep-fryer heated to 360 degrees) and heat until the oil quickly browns a cube f bread.  Squeeze 5-inch lengths of dough through the pastry tube into the oil — as many as will comfortably fit. 

Reduce the heat to medium-hot and fry until the churros puff and have barely begun to turn golden, about 20 seconds.  Do not overcook — the churros should be crunchy outside and still soft within. 

Drain on paper towels. Dredge them in sugar while they’re warm.

If it wasn’t August and very warm, I’d have served my churros with hot chocolate, which is traditional.  And Rufino Lopez provides such a recipe.  But I made Donna Hay’s "Cinnamon and Mascarpone Ice Cream" from flavours for a dinner party last night, so knew it would be the perfect accompaniment to the churros tonight.  And it was.  And my son was right there, doing his mom the courtesy of listening to my churros story, and watching the action.  Nice kid!
 

Cinnamon and Mascarpone Ice Cream

1-1/2 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. water
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
14 oz. mascarpone
1/2 c. cream

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat, add the cinnamon and leave the syrup until cool.

Mix the syrup with the mascarpone and cream.  Place in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions until the ice cream is thick and scoopable.  Alternatively, place the mixture in a metal container and freeze, beating well at 1-hour intervals, until the ice cream is scoopable.

Serve in scoops with fruit and crisp biscuits (or churros!).  Serves 6.  Note:  If mascarpone is not available, combine equal quantities of cream cheese and thick (double) cream.

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All these many years later, I still hesitate to heat up an inch of oil in any pan.  But in this case, it was very much worth it.  The end product was excellent, not only because of the taste, but of the many memories I enjoyed while thinking about and making my own churros after so many years.

Recipe Notes:  The churros dough is very thick, so has to be scooped and placed into the piping bag.  Because of the thickness, you have to really press hard to pipe it.  I used vegetable oil and a cooking thermometer to gauge the the temperature.  Twenty seconds is not enough and with extra time, they never really begin to brown.  They are, however, very crispy on the outside.  One batch makes about 6 "looped" churros.  When I do this again (and I certainly will since it’s so easy…) I will double the batch.  No, I don’t need the calories, but my goodness, they’re delicious!

With respect to the ice cream recipe, it is by far, the least complicated ice cream recipe I’ve made.  There’s no bother with making custard, and when you eat the ice cream, your mouth isn’t coated with the fat of the heavy cream.  It’s quite refreshing.  Also, I only had 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the house, so I used that, added a 2" piece of cinnamon stick, and added a 1/2 tsp. of ground cardamom for good measure.  YUM.  Lovely.
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