Cinnamon Rolls

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Kaboom! That’s the magical sound when my favorite things, cinnamon and rolls, collide and become one. Warm, gooey, sweet cinnamon rolls are my favorite things. It’s a treat to have a cinnamon roll and a cup of tea. Enjoying the quiet, thinking deep thoughts, and inhaling the frosted cinnamon rolls starts the day with a bit of magic. Why, yes, I lick the frosting off my fingers. If you are thinking they are complex creatures, you are wrong. Cinnamon rolls are easy. They can be made partially ahead and refrigerated. Start on Saturday night, bake Sunday morning. If you’re thinking, “I don’t need 30 rolls” (You’re wrong, by the way), then you will be happy to know that the recipe can be halved. Unlike my “friend”, make sure to half ALL the ingredients. Ahem. Easter weekend I made these rolls three times. Let’s get baking. As usual, please read the directions through first, so  you have all the ingredients, and understand the steps and time involved.

Cinnamon Rolls

2 packages yeast ( 4 1/2 teaspoons) dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water or instant yeast (read directions!)

6 tablespoons shortening (Crisco)

1 cup granulated sugar

8 cups all-purpose flour ( you may need another cup or so if dough is sticky)

2 cups of hot water (from the tap)

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon salt

softened butter

brown sugar

raisins (optional)

cinnamon

Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. If you are using regular yeast, add the yeast to a cup of lukewarm water (less than 110 degrees) and sprinkle in a little sugar. Set aside for about 5 minutes. This is called proofing. If you’re not sure about the temperature, cooler is better. Yeast is a live organism. Hot water will kill it and your rolls won’t rise. If the water is cool, it will still rise, but may take a little longer to do so. See, you learned something.
  2.  In a bowl, of a stand mixer, add shortening, sugar, and salt to the hot water and beat for 30 seconds, using the beater blade. There will be splashing. Let cool to lukewarm temperature. Stir in 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. If you are using instant yeast, add the yeast now, as well as the 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix until well combined. There is no need for proofing instant yeast. Mix in beaten eggs.
  3. Gradually stir in the remaining flour and mix with the dough hook for about 2 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand, add a little flour if the dough is still sticky. Knead until dough feels satiny and smooth.
  4. Cover and let rise in a bowl for 30 minutes or so. After the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and divide it in half. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a rectangle. Spread dough evenly with softened butter (About 2 tablespoons for each half. Be generous) Sprinkle dough with brown sugar, raisins (if you wish), and cinnamon. Make sure you use LOTS of brown sugar (About 1/2 cup for each half. Again be generous.)  Sprinkle on a lot of cinnamon. I like to use a good cinnamon from Penzeys. If you are using raisins, soak them in warm water first, to plump them up. You will not be dissappointed.
  5. Roll up dough into one long roll. Cut into rolls, using a piece of dental floss or thread, about two inches thick. Yes, you can use a knife if you don’t want to go upstairs for the floss. Place rolls in greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Rinse and repeat for the second  half.
  6. If you are making these the night before, cover the pans with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator. The next day, let them rise about an hour or so, until they are doubled. If you making them for the same day consumption, let the rolls rise until doubled. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until brown-only about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the rolls cool to room temperature.
  7. While the rolls are cooling, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, whisk, together butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Frost the cooled cinnamon rolls generously.

See, that wasn’t so bad. Relax. Pat yourself on your back. You made cinnamon rolls! Now go eat ’em. As you can see from the photo, I eyeballed the two inches. Oh well! They were still delicious! I brought a batch to an Easter brunch and there were none left. Just sayin’.

Here’s the original recipe.

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A taste of Fall

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 Hot Applesauce Cake

 

Back in the day, people exchanged recipes on recipe cards. Sometimes the recipe cards were just plain old index cards and sometimes they were decorated. There were no food blogs, not many cookbooks, and only Julia Child on television. Friends and family exchanged recipes that had been handed down for generations. We learned to cook from the masters, our grandmothers and mothers. Today we use the Internet to find a new recipe, or to revisit an old. We have thousands of cookbooks to peruse, many food shows on TV that entertain and educate us. Cooking and food have become entertainment instead of just a way feed our families. I’m not much for food competition shows. I find them stressful. Cooking to me is relaxing and a way to express creativity and love. We have so many new foods to explore and new techniques to try. No longer are the days of “If it’s Wednesday it must be spaghetti and meatballs”. Don’t forget meatloaf Mondays. Never forget.

After I had been married a while, I discovered cookbooks. This recipe is from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. My mother made her own applesauce. I never knew you could buy it. So, in this recipe, I used homemade. It’s not required, but I think it makes a difference. It’s worth the small effort to make it.  To make applesauce, put some apples in a big pan, pour enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan, and simmer the apples until they are all cooked and mushy. I leave the skins on for coloring.I run the cooked apples through a food mill, turned by hand, then sweeten with some sugar, adding cinnamon to taste, and finishing with a pat of butter to smooth it all out. Delicious.

This recipe makes two 8 ½ X 4 ½ loaves of bread. Sometimes I make then in mini loaves for a great present. The cooking time is reduced to about 40 minutes for these. This recipe can also be baked in layer pans and frosted. I like to bake it in loaf pans to have with my morning coffee. It just doesn’t seem as bad as eating CAKE.

 

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ground cloves

2 tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. mace

2 cups hot applesauce

2 cups raisins

2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans or two 8 ½ X 4 ½ inch loaf pans.

Cream the shortening and slowly add the sugar, beating the mixture until smooth. Add the eggs and mix well. Mix together, in a medium bowl, the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, clovers, allspice, nutmeg, and mace, and then add to the creamed mixture along with the hot applesauce, raisins and walnuts. No fuss. Beat until the batter is well blended. I like to plump up my raisins by letting them sit in warm water for a few minutes. I drain the water and add the plump raisins to the mixture. Hard, dry raisins don’t even look appetizing.

Spread evenly in the prepared pans, and bake round layers for about 40 minutes, loaf pans for about one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let layers cool in the pans for a bout 5 minutes, loaves about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. I like to run a knife along the perimeter of the pans, gently pushing it towards to center of the pan. This lets air get under the bread to help release it from the pan. This technique helps to prevent the bread from sticking to the bottom of the pan when you turn it out of the pan.

Whenever I bake this bread, I feel like Fall has visited my kitchen. I hope you feel the same way too. Celebrate Fall with this simple bread. It freezes very well, or you can give a loaf to a friend! I like to keep some mini loaves of this bread in the freezer in case company comes by.