Sunday, 24 February 2013

Cinnamon Rolls!!

After my King Cake experiment, I couldn't get cinnamon rolls out of my mind.  I had to try and make the real thing.

I ended up combining recipes from two wonderful bakers, along with some tips and tricks from a few others*.   These are cinnamon rolls, these are serious, and they need to be amaze-ing.  Especially considering how long you have to wait to eat one!

Set aside your Sunday, friends, these require commitment.  Okay, so that was a tad exaggerated. Don't be like me, though, and not start them until after 1 pm.  I ruined my dinner.

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 tsp salt

Cinnamon-y filling goodness
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter, unsalted

  • In a large bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar.  Add the warm water and stir. Set aside for 10 mins.
  • Heat milk in small saucepan with butter until hot, but not boiling.
  • Remove milk from heat and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, sift flour and add salt.
  • Add the white and brown sugar to the yeast mixture and stir.  Add the warm milk and butter mixture, the eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well. 
  • Slowly add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon.  Dough will be slightly sticky.
  • On a well floured surface, knead the dough for several minutes, adding several tbsp of flour as you knead.

  • Place the dough ball in a large bowl, well greased with oil.  Roll the dough around in the oil until well covered.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place a tea towel over the bowl.  Put bowl in oven and let rise for about 2 hours. 
  • Place dough on well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding in 2-3 tbsp of flour. 
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan. 
  • Roll dough out into a 10x20 rectangle and spread melted butter across the surface. 
  • Combine the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl and pour over the butter, patting down. 

  • Starting with one short end, roll up the dough tightly, pulling lightly on each end as you go to keep it nice and long. Pinch the ends together to make a seam. 
  • With the seam side down, cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. 
  • Place each piece, with the cut side up, spaced equally out, in a greased 9x13 pan. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cinnamon rolls should be puffed up, bubbling, and brown.

*Adapted from Joy the Baker and A Clockwork Lemon, along with helpful tips and tricks from Mennonite Girls Can Cook, and my own experience making King Cake.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares

One of my favourite after school snacks from childhood were these soft, buttery, sugary oatmeal squares.... I have the recipe my mom used - but I failed time and again to recreate it. It just didn't work, the squares just crumbled into bits.  Delicious, rich, buttery-sugar bits - but not what I was going for.  Finally, after adding a couple of twists to the original, I just might have satisfied my 20 year old craving.  I might have to make a second batch just to be sure...

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a small saucepan on low heat.
Combine brown sugar, oats, baking powder, and flour.
Pour melted butter into oat mixture.  Add vanilla and egg.
Mix well and pat into a greased 8x8 inch pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until centre is firm.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mardi Gras King Cake

Happy Mardi Gras!

I have been intrigued by the idea of a King Cake ever since my father sent a photo of one from his travels in the southern United States.  So this year, I decided to try my hand at making one.

A King Cake is a traditional ring of cinnamon roll bread topped with purple, green, and gold icing or sugar (the traditional colours of Mardi Gras).  The origin of the King Cake is religious in nature - it is named after the three kings of biblical lore who visited the Christ child.  It is traditionally served between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent.  The tradition was brought to the southern United States by colonists from France and Spain, and is served as part of Mardi Gras celebrations.  It traditionally has a small plastic baby hidden inside (to represent the baby Jesus).  

This was my first effort baking with yeast - so I was a little apprehensive, to say the least.   I didn't think it would turn out, actually, as the recipe calls for the dough to double in size, and mine certainly did not do that. However, all is well that ends well, and it baked up beautifully!

King Cake

1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp water
Purple, Yellow, and Green coloured sugar crystals

1. Bring milk to a boil and add the 1/4 cup butter.  Remove from heat and let cool.   
2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water.  Stir in 1 tbsp of the sugar to avoid frothing.  Let stand for about 10 minutes. 
3. Add the cooled milk and butter mixture to the yeast.  Whisk in the egg.  Add in the rest of the sugar, the salt and nutmeg.  Add the flour one cup at a time until dough starts to pull together. 
4. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. 
5. Add about a 1/2 tsp of oil to a large bowl.  Roll the dough in the oil until coated.  Cover bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. 
6.  While waiting, make the filling.  Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour.  Add the melted butter and mix loosely until crumbly. 
7. When the dough is ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle.  Sprinkle the filling over the dough and starting from one long end, roll it up tightly.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and wind around a glass mason jar to keep the shape, pushing the two ends together.  Let rise for an additional 45 minutes.
8. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before frosting. 
9. Have fun decorating it with coloured sugar crystals!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sweetheart Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

It's a blustery stormy winter's evening and there is nothing good on t.v. What to do? Make cupcakes!
What's that you say? You don't want to end up eating a half dozen by the end of How I met your Mother?
Well, pshosh. Don't worry my friend, because I have just the cure for what ails you.
It's genius, really.  A recipe for just two cupcakes?  One for right now, and one for a half hour from now? Or, if you are feeling really sweet, then one for you, and one for your sweetheart.

I came across this recipe at One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes for two, and it has been on my (long) list of things to try for quite some time now.

I was kinda craving chocolate tonight, though, so I added cocoa and chocolate chunks....oh, yeah.

Sweetheart Chocolate Chip Cupcakes 
adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 egg white
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa
pinch of salt
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp chocolate chips

Combine egg white and sugar in a small bowl.
Add in vanilla and melted butter.
Add flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa.
Add milk, stir well.

Pour into two cupcake liners and bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Best Damn Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

This recipe makes the best damn pancakes ever. There are three important elements to a perfect pancake.  Light. Fluffy. Slightly sweet.  There are two mandatory ingredients - butter and buttermilk. If you are like me, and you don't keep actual buttermilk in your fridge at all times (I know, right?!)  you can always add a bit of lemon juice.  Or, if you are like me, you can make poor [wo]man's buttermilk - just add a splash of vinegar to the milk.  

There are also three essential rules: 

1. Sift the flour   
2. Do not overstir the batter  
3. Only flip the pancakes once

Makes about 10- 12 large fluffy pancakes. This recipe is easily halved to make a half dozen pancakes.

Best Damn Buttermilk Pancakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on low heat.  Set aside.
Preheat the grill or medium to large non stick frying pan.  Add a bit of margarine or butter to slightly grease it.
Sift the flour in a medium bowl with sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture all at once, mixing only until just combined.

Absolutely no rules for the size - make 'em as big as you want!!

Blueberry Sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (or any kind of berry)
1/2 cup table syrup** or to taste

Thaw the berries in a small saucepan along with the syrup.
Add a tiny bit of water if necessary.
Ready when bubbling!