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"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cinnamon rollin', rollin', rollin'...

My sister-in-law is coming by tomorrow for breakfast, and she asked if I'd make cinnamon rolls. She hasn't had them yet, but she's been keen to give them a try since I mentioned learning to make them at Christmas. I figured, why not? And, I get a blog post out of it, too, so...bonus!! Here, then, is the recipe for the cinnamon rolls I've written about before.

The Cast:
1 ½ Pkgs dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
½ cup shortening (I have much love for those newfangled pre-measured Crisco bricks)
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 – 5 cups sifted flour
One stick melted butter (not shown)
brown sugar
raisins (optional)

For the glaze, if you want it (I make it and serve it on the side, because I don't want it but T and J do):

2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 – 4 Tbsp milk or cream , or OJ if you feel adventurous

Let's get a move on, there's a lot to do! (Not really, but this does take some time)

Scald the milk (I have no idea how this is properly done - I heat it over medium for a few minutes, until I poke my finger in and say "Dang, that's hot!" As long as it doesn't boil, it's OK); pour over the shortening. Add sugar and salt and cool to tepid. I smush it with a spoon so the shortening will melt better, but I'm impatient that way. Look:
While the milk, shortening mess is cooling, add the warm water to the yeast and soak for ten minutes. Here it is, just getting into its bath:
Leave it alone for that ten minutes - it's getting all bubbly and good, burping up a storm, and you really want it to be rude. The ruder, the better. After ten minutes, you have something like this:
Mmm, all bubbled and foamy.

Now, while the yeast is yeasting and the shortening stuff is cooling a bit, you can do something else. Maybe write the Great American Novel, clean the cat box, or get distracted by your son when he proudly announces he did this in the hallway:
Send the Evil Genius to his room, confiscate the dry-erase markers that really, really don't come off the wall even with a Mr. Clean magic sponge, shake your head and wonder where you went wrong while trying to figure out how you can parlay this into an entirely repainted interior. He's never done this before - he's allowed to write on the alls in his room but nowhere else, and he knows it. Honestly, kids and their boundary issues.

Now, back to the cinnamon rolls.

When the shortening mixture is room temperature, add the dissolved yeast and beaten egg. Add four cups flour one at a time, beating after each addition.
I use the dough hook for the whole procedure and add each lot of flour when the last one is roughly mixed in.
Almost there. When it forms a nice ball and lifts off with the hook, it's about ready:
If it sticks to your hands like no substance you've ever encountered before, prompting a distressed cry to anyone nearby for help in removing the stuff before your fingers are forever cemented together, you need to add more flour. Not too much, though, or you'll have cement rolls, which is more of a gardening project.

Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Turn out onto a floured board:
Knead until elastic and smooth. I couldn't take a picture of that part because I needed both hand to knead. Avoid too much flour. Turn dough into well oiled bowl. I didn't realize until too late that I didn't have any oil (I forgot I used it all up for the Bannock) so I had to use my roommate's butter flavored spray oil, that's why it looks so yellow. I hope it doesn't effect them adversely.
Cover the bowl loosely with plastic and let it rise for 1 ½ hours.
Really walk away. Resist the urge to stare at the wonderful yeasts as they party like it's nineteen-ninety-nine or whatever they do while they multiply, burp, and make the gas bubbles that give us light, fluffy doughs and help make bread the worst wonderful thing on a carb addict's radar. Resist the urge to poke the dough and watch it dent. Go. Knit a cat cozy. Quilt a house. Take a nap. Dust. Explain to your Evil Genius why he is now spending the rest of the evening in his room, because he has cried himself into a state and can't remember his mural in the hall. Just leave it alone for the minimum time. If your house is cold or the AC suddenly went crazy, it may take longer. Let it double in size before you go all Attila the Hun on it, please. You'll thank me.

Press dough down and divide into workable size - I divide it in half . Roll dough out into a rectangle. Cover with half the melted butter. Layer with a generous thick layer of brown sugar and watch it soak up those butter puddles. Holy cow. Sprinkle on cinnamon as desired. I desire a lot of cinnamon. A whole lot. Buckets, tonnes of the stuff.
I press mine out by hand on Release foil because a) my rolling pin is afflicted with some kind of white, crusty pox that frightens me, and b) the release foil means I don't have to flour the very warped wooden board to keep the dough from sticking when I want it to roll nicely.

Add raisins, if desired. I desire. T and J don't. In the spirit of compromise (and the vain hope they'll one day do the cleanup for these) I do one lot with, and one without. Pretty, pretty raisins:

Roll up jelly-roll fashion.

I know it isn't pretty, neat and tidy - I'm not a professional chef. If you want one of those, go watch Food Network. Iron Chef, whee. Oh, and isn't Guy Fieri just the cutest??

Using scissors or string, cut into slices of 1 – 1 ½ inches thick. I like the scissors, and I use my thumb as a measure - the length from the first knuckle to the tip is a good thickness for me.Place slices in a greased eight or nine inch cake pan (8 – 9 to a pan).
Press rolls down to even out and fill the pan. I also collected all the yummy cinnamon-sugar-raisiny stuff that fell out during cutting process and sprinkled it on top, because really, why not?
Let them rise until the rolls fill the pan generously, about another hour. I'm sorry, I don't have a picture of that - they are still rising, and I don't want to bother them. Don't be afraid to give them a little extra time - all they'll do is get fluffier. I've read about one woman who leaves them overnight, but I'm a little scared of what I'll find in the morning to do that. Leave them alone while they rise. This is a fine time to go try and get that dry-erase marker off the wall with some rubbing alcohol. Or mix yourself a drink - but not with the rubbing alcohol!!

After this, you have a choice - you can get right to baking or you can cover and refrigerate the dough to bake the next day. I am making these the night before because I don't like anyone well enough to get up at the ungodly hour needed to make these for breakfast. Really, I bet I wouldn't even do that for my mum, and you know how much I love her!

If you chill them overnight, get them out about half an hour before you want to actually bake them. On the bottom rack of your oven, place a baking dish into which you will then pour an inch or so of boiling water. Place the uncovered rolls on the top rack and close the door. They've had a cold night, and a sauna is just the thing to make them feel light-hearted again.

After about twenty minutes or so, remove rolls and baking dish of water and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake at 350 about fifteen to twenty minutes. Do not over bake!

Remove immediately from pan by inverting pan onto a plate. Some folks then tip them onto another plate, but I leave them upside down so all that gooey, sugary goodness can run down into the cracks and - dear Goddess, thank you so much for the wonders of brown sugar and butter and caremelization!

While the rolls are baking, place sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in enough milk, cream, or OJ to reach a thick, hardly-able to stir consistency (I actually make mine a bit thinner, more like a glaze). Add some cinnamon if you want, or nutmeg, or ginger, or any other thing your heart desires. Spread over warm rolls as soon as they are plated, allowing frosting to melt over the edges and into the rolls. Or serve it on the side so everyone can frost/glaze to their own tolerances.

There is nothing low fat about these. They will perch on your hips and stay there, thumbing their noses at your pathetic efforts to dislodge them with the stairmaster, the treadmill, or the elliptical machine. I recommend a hearty nap after eating them. Being horizontal seems to even out the distribution. I have relegated these to the files of "things I only make once or twice a year because I'd like to live past middle-age, thank you very much". They are so worth it, though.

I'll post pictures of the finished product tomorrow, after I've recovered.

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