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Over the weekend I made 4 batches of cinnamon rolls. I use the Sweet Dough Recipe from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook with some modifications. I am linking the Braided Lemon Bread recipe on their website as it is fairly close to the base recipe. The sponge is the same. The base of the dough doesn’t have yogurt.
Proofing the yeast: I hot water from the tap. Our hot water is set for around 118* and settles into a delightful temp by the time the sugar dissolves and the flour has absorbed the water. I add the yeast once these are mixed and set this aside to start doing it’s thing while I get the rest of the ingredients ready for the sponge.
Shortly after moving into this house we picked up a kitchen scale, which does make a difference. I weigh the flour and sugar, and sometimes the milk. If you don’t have a scale I urge you to measure the flour by adding spoonsful into the measuring cup, then using the straight edge of a knife to sweep off the excess. A cup of flour weighs 4 to 4 1/4 ounces (120 grams), and scooping the one cup measure into the flour will result in anything from a 5 to 7 ounce, a significant difference which will make for a denser product.
In a big bowl I put the flour, sugar and any other dry ingredients I’m adding in for a rich dough. The KAF Cookbook lists a number of add-ins including: subbing milk for the water; vanilla I add this to the milk when it’s just warm; unrefined cane sugar – this has some of the molasses still in it so ostensibly it’s “better for you” (yes I just said that) I use adding whole milk powder, 1 cup; eggs I use 1 whole and the yolks of 1 or 2 more – I don’t bother whisking them ahead of time – pop them in and stir well; and adding spices or dried fruit to the dough. I add either cinnamon or cardamom, or both, shaking each in an “I have a feel for this kind of way” however if you need measurements 1 teaspoon of each will work since its for fragrance, you can add more. That reminds me I’m out of cardamom, how does that even happen?
All of the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, spices, milk powder are whisked in the bowl, then I add the sponge, liquid and butter.
This recipe already calls for 8 T unsalted butter, in the cookbook it’s an add-in, it’s important that the butter is soft, room temp works. I don’t like to melt the butter, there is something to stirring in that soft butter in as the dough is coming together.
- 1 cup whole milk powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- substitute milk for water
- add 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- either 2 whole eggs or 1 whole egg and 1 yolk, or 1 whole egg and 2 yolks
To mix all this together I use a wooden spoon. If you prefer to use the dough hook on your stand mixer that works I don’t have and have never used a bread machine so can’t speak to that, though I will say it’s a legit form of bread baking. Since I’ve been baking bread since the second grade I love the feel of it as I stir and then as I knead the dough.
Once the dough comes together I dump it out onto a floured surface to finish incorporating the flour and work on developing the gluten. This step takes some time as I’m looking for a smooth texture to the dough when it’s ready for rising. I now have a granite countertop, which stays cool, making the kneading process somewhat easier. At the beginning of the process I’m using both hands to add the flour and begin kneading, when I get to the end I’m using one hand. When do I know the dough is ready for raising? It’s smooth, not tacking and kneading is a bit easier than the beginning part of the process. The dough will Feel smooth.
Rising: this is by far the hardest part because it means waiting and is very dependent upon the temperature of where the dough is located. The first rise is on the counter and this year, even with the heat on the house is a bit cooler so the rising took a bit longer than usual. I spray the bowl with cooking spray, then spray the top of the dough, this is the same as putting vegetable oil in the bowl and flipping the dough to coat it. This keeps the dough from drying out. I then cover with plastic wrap, loosely to give the dough room to rise. Given time
Making the Cinnamon Rolls: several years ago Jemellia Hilfiger posted on social media that she makes her own brown sugar. I have to tell you this is life changing. Life. Changing. Jemellia probably gave specifics on amounts and I wing it (no one is surprised by this). I use blackstrap molasses and dump some into the sugar and mix until fully combined, adjusting either way as necessary. To this I add:
- 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon
- a healthy shake nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves (cloves themselves would be rather gritty)
- 1 teaspoon or so of cardamom
The Second Knead. Once the dough has doubled in size it’s time to punch it down and knead it. Not as much flour is required however it is necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. I have a fancy tool for this and use a scoop out of habit. I knead the dough for a good bit and it is by feel rather than time. The dough will once again look and feel smooth, and no big gas bubbles are present. The dough rests for a few minutes while I melt the butter. Then I roll it out, which as you can imagine takes a few minutes as the dough tends to retract as I push. Years ago I picked up a french style rolling pin that has tapered ends, this is incredibly helpful when I want to urge the dough into places where it doesn’t want to go.
When I’ve got a good sized rectangle in front of me and the dough is somewhere around a quarter inch thick I pour out the butter and spread it with an offset frosting spatula, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture and roll. When starting to roll the dough I pull the edge closest to me slightly towards me to help lift the dough from the surface and give me that first bit to hold onto as I roll the dough. When finished rolling a bit of water along the edge of the dough will help seal the rolls holding in that fragrant sugary mixture, and making it easier to cut and place the rolls on the sheet pan.
Depending on when I need the rolls to be ready I will either rise on the counter (quicker) or do a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight. I prefer the slow rise as I can get all of the work done the night before, pop them into the oven while I’m having coffee and enjoy them shortly thereafter. I bake them at 350 or 325 (convection) for about 30 minutes or so, this is somewhat by smell and look/feel of the dough.
The last bit is the icing made with confectioners sugar, lemon and lime zest, milk and vanilla. The zest cuts the sweetness of the icing and picks up the savory spices. It’s one of the best adds ever!
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- zest from lemons and limes. I used three/two and the juice from some of the lemons
- 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon vanilla
I enjoy these with coffee and my Sweetie. When I started this I’d hoped to get some pictures however this didn’t happen and for Monday I want to do a post on a couple of things that are completely unrelated. Thank you so much for stopping by. May your 2023 be just as amazing as you are!