Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas "Cinnamon" Rolls

I used to make cinnamon rolls every Christmas that were so full of fruit filling they oozed across the plate.  Those long ago rolls had shredded apple, raisins, chopped nuts, and whatever else I had on hand that year.  They also depended on white sugar, real butter, whole milk, and at least half white flour. The basic recipe that I follow (king of) for method and basic ratios is from Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook  (page 154 in current edition if Google books is correct.)

This year I made a few changes.  I can't have apples, milk, butter, or cinnamon any more.  So those things were out automatically.  I've grown to like the richer flavor of brown sugar so I use it when ever I can. Scratch white sugar.

I miscalculated a bit when I slowed down the final rising in the refrigerator.  So they weren't quite ready for first breakfast on Christmas morning.  We took them with us to the daughter's in laws for second breakfast and they were a big hit.  Only enough leftover for boxing day breakfast.  That's two dozen largish rolls gone down seven adults and 2 children in two days.

The really great change is that now I have a mixer that can do dough.  Now I don't knead the dough by hand or break my arm beating the first stage batter.  This looks like more work than it is.

2012 Christmas Rolls

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package)
2 cups Almond milk, divided
3 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups +/- whole wheat flour, divided
1/2 cup parve (dairy free) margarine
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In a glass quart measuring cup, measure 1 cup almond milk add the margarine and microwave 1 - 3 minutes on high until margarine is melted.   (you could skip this and just melt the margarine and warn the milk to lukewarm.)  Add more almond milk to the 2 1/2 cup line. The mixture in the cup should now be lukewarm and the margarine melted.

Measure (ha!) 3 cups flour and all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add all of the milk and margarine.  Attach dough hook and mix until hook leaves "tracks".  You may need to scrape the bowl once or twice.  Scrape the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plastic wrap and go away for at least 45 minutes.

Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time.  If dough is still very sticky add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough is barely moist.  Dough should be slightly sticky by not loose.  Beat until dough climbs the hook.

Remove from mixer.  Cover and let rise for about an hour.

Prepare a 13 X 9 pan or a 1/2 sheet pan depending on whether you want sticky buns or not.  For sticky buns you need to melt 1/4 cup margarine in a 13 X 9 baking pan then add about 3/4 cup brown sugar and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan.  For regular rolls line a baking sheet with parchment or a slipat or grease/spray the sheet.

Depending on the size of your working surface you may want to divide the dough into two or three pieces.  Roll out on a floured board/pastry sheet to 1/4 inch thick or less.  You want a nice rectangular shape.  Even sides make rolling easier, but there's no need to get totally anal about it.

1/2 cup softened parve margarine for base.

1 cup Brown sugar
2 teaspoons Allspice
1 teaspoon  Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cardamon
Mix well

1 cup brown sugar
zest of Orange, lemon, or lime enough cover the dough one layer

raisins or other dried fruit (chop larger fruits into raisin sized pieces), enough to cover dough
chopped nuts, enough to cover dough

To fill the rolls:
Spread the rolled out dough with softened margarine.  Take your time and carefully cover the dough evenly with margarine.  It takes a light stroke and patience to not tear holes in the dough but if you do tear a hole just pinch it together and go on..  Some people use their hand for this step.  I used a fork in 2012 and an offset spatula in the past.

Next sprinkle on the sugar with or without spices.  Again try for an even layer.  If you're adding fruit or nuts now is the time to sprinkle them evenly over the dough.  I zest with a microplane right over the dough, but you might want to try sprinkling your zest if you're making citrus rolls.  Once you have all the fillings you want  to use evenly spread over the dough it's time to roll.

Decide if you want fat rolls or skinny rolls.  For fat rolls start rolling up one of the short sides of the rectangle and roll fairly tightly until you get to the other side.  This may mean that you are try to roll sideways since most times the long sides are parallel to the table edge.  This eHow shows how to roll the dough.  I usually make skinny rolls.  I use my fingers to measure the size of the rolls.  three fingers wide for sticky buns, two fingers for regular rolls.  I use my Dough Knife to cut the rolls, but I have used a regular knife, plain dental floss, or heavy thread to cut them in the past.  After cutting, place rolls a cut side down in prepared pan.  Spray with butter flavored oil or gently brush with melted margarine.  Cover and let rise.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Sticky buns must be inverted within 5 minutes watch out for drips.  Remove pan before "sticky" cools.

Cool rolls for a few minutes.  Hot sugar can cause serious burns!

Eat and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thank you, Chocolate Covered Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is a blogger after my own heart.  She just remembers to photograph everything before she eats it.  (I almost always forget to take pictures.)

During Halloween I found her recipe for Copycat peanut butter eggs.  They were way too easy and way too delicious. I used natural chunky peanut butter, real powdered sugar, dutch processed cocoa,  coconut oil and maple syrup. (I didn't use salt.)  The recipe must be small to avoid over indulging. I doubled it the first time.  Katie said to keep these in the freezer but I found the refrigerator works fine for keeping the coating solid.

The grandsons and I enjoyed the peanut butter and chocolatey goodness.  There was some coating/dip left over so I grabbed some graham crackers and dipped those in the left over chocolate sauce.  They were better than those store bought chocolate coated graham crackers!

At the beginning of December I made a batch of just the chocolate sauce using 1/2 cup each cocoa , coconut oil, and maple syrup.  Then I dipped mini marshmallows, raisins, and chocolate graham crackers.  I needed a bit more patience with all those small items because they clumped up, but they were so good.  Daughter and son-in-law ate a bunch of these.

Christmas Eve I made the original recipe again a quadruple batch this time.  I used a plastic "shot glass" as a mold and got some shapes that resemble mini peanut butter cup.  I dipped chocolate graham crackers in the leftover coating and sprinkled some crushed starlight mints on those.   Everything is in the freezer now.  I'll pack it into containers for the fridge in the morning.