Saturday, April 2, 2011

Challenge 2: Cinnamon Rolls

I woke early this morning, the house was quiet, coffee was brewing and knew I wanted to do something nice for the guys; hubby and the 2 boys.  I had seen a recipe a while back over at the Smitten Kitchen and knew I wanted to try it.  Today was the day.  My 1st challenge was a total flop but I had not lost the faith.  I would trudge on and try something new.  I realized my mistakes from the day before and I was not ready to be defeated by a simple recipe and a pile of ingredients.

I gathered everything I would need for this new exciting challenge

I was so excited about getting as much of this recipe done as I could before everyone woke that I made a few mistakes on the way.  Yes, I was worried things were going to be a total flop...again...but I had to keep going, I just had to! 

I started the recipe and then suddenly realized I forgot to follow the first step and didn't mix the ingredients for 3 minutes.  Oh well, can't change it now.  I continued to follow the directions and realized that I had a mess, the dough was NOT sticking together and I couldn't understand what was wrong...UNTIL...I looked on the counter and realized I hadn't added my milk.  Ummm, really, the milk, of all things.  Duh!!  I knew I had really messed up big time now.  I didn't mix for the specified amount of time and I was trying to mix everything together without the required amount of liquid.  Uuuuugh!  Okay, still can't stop, I must continue.  Success or failure I have to at least give it a shot...right!  :o)

Everything was finally added, according to directions, but not exactly as the directions had them listed.  It's all trial and error, I'm just learning!

My bowl was greased and my dough added.  I'm ready for the first rise...and please let this work, please!

Success!  My dough has risen and looks like it should...I think! 

Now comes a scary part, rolling out the dough into a rectangle.  Don't get me wrong, I know how to roll out dough but I have many worries.  Is it going to stick?  Will it be difficult to roll?  Am I doing this right?  I had come this far and knew I couldn't quit.  I had to prove to myself that this could be done, even by someone who had no clue how to bake 'real' food.  I rolled out the dough and spread on the butter.  Hey, it was way easier to roll out than I could have ever imagined.  Look, she looks pretty good for the first try!

Now came the time to add the filling.  I apologize for not getting a picture of this but everyone was out of bed, my husband was grumpy trying to keep the kids out of the way, the kids were trying to lick the sugar off the counter watching my every move and I had my hands full so taking a picture was impossible at this point.

I rolled the dough into a long cinnamon log and tried to cut it into slices with a knife.  Okay, the knife was not working so I ran to the bathroom and grabbed the trusty dental floss.  Yep, you read that right, the dental floss.  I have heard, some place, that dental floss would work great for cutting pastries and cakes, so I tried it.  Believe it or not, it worked like a charm!!!! 

My cinnamon rolls are in my greased pan and ready for their second rising....this is getting exciting!

My second rising is now complete and yes, they have doubled in size.  WOW!  I think I might be getting the hang of this.  Sweeet!

At this point I'm waiting for the oven to heat up and I'm getting so nervous about them turning out right that I'm becoming a nervous wreck.  I can't possibly have two failures in a row, I can't!  The famous beep on the oven and it's ready to accept these rolls for baking.  Oh please let this work.  Success, again!  My rolls baked up real nice like and they are ready for the frosting.

I didn't use the suggested icing because I didn't have everything I needed so I opted for a powdered sugar icing.  I spread the icing over the cinnamon rolls and everyone was already at the table waiting to taste them.

HUGE SUCCESS and a major hit!  The whole family loved them and the kids couldn't stop telling me what a great cinnamon roll lady I was.  My husband then looks at me and tells me I will have to make these some time for him to take to work.  Now anyone would think, wow, that's cool, he's so impressed that he wants his buddies to taste them, right?  WRONG!  My husband has to leave the house at 4:50 AM and he wants to take these to work, fresh from the oven!  Has he lost his mind!!!!  Sad thing is, I will probably do it!  :o)

So now that you have read my little trial and error issues, I will provide you the recipe or you can hop on over to the Smitten Kitchen and follow the recipe she has provided.

1 C whole milk (I used 2% because that's what I had)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 1/2 C (or more) unbleached all purpose flour; divided
1/2 C sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast or 1 envelope
1 tsp salt
nonstick vegetable oil spray

Place milk in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high until milk is 120 to 130 degrees; a candy thermometer works great here.  Pour into a bowl, use paddle attachment, and add 1 C flour, sugar, egg, yeast and salt.  Beat on low for 3 minutes (I forgot to do this part!).  Add the remaining 2 1/2 C flour and beat on low until flour is mixed in and dough becomes sticky.  If the dough is too sticky you can add more flour, by the tablespoon until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Place your dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until just slightly sticky, about 8 minutes.  Form it into a ball. 
Lightly oil a large bowl with cooking spray.  Transfer your dough to the bowl, turning lightly to coat all sides of your dough with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel.  Let dough rise in a warm place, free of drafts, until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours.
After your dough has risen, punch down and then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 15x11 rectangle.  Spread butter over the rectangle, being sure to leave about 1/2 inch border all around.

3/4 C packed brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
Pinch of salt (I forgot to add this)

In a medium sized bowl combine all ingredients for filling; mix well.  Sprinkle filling over buttered dough.  It will appear that you have way too much filling but no worries, you don't, you want a thick layer of filling.  Starting at the longer side, roll dough into a log (try to roll this as tight as possible without ruining the shape).  Place your dough, seam side down, cutting off ends if they are not even (these can be baked in a small dish because, trust me, you will not want to waste them!).  Cut log into 18 equal slices. 
Transfer rolls to two greased 9x9 or two 8x8 glass baking dishes.  There will be no room between rolls but do not worry, that's how it is supposed to look.  Cover baking dishes with plastic and then a towel.  Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Whatever you do, do NOT skimp on the second rise!
Bake rolls in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and turn onto a cooling rack.  Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn right-side up and apply glaze (I put the glaze on immediately).

4 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional glaze
3 C powdered sugar
2 1/2 - 3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients; mix well.  If glaze is too thick add more milk, a little at a time.  If your glaze is too thin, add more sugar, a little at a time.  I used the 'optional glaze' being as the only cream cheese I had in the house contained chives.

That's it folks, that's how you make these amazing rolls.  My family loved them so much that I took some over to my parents' house so they could enjoy them and they loved them!  They did take more time than I anticipated but let me tell you what, it was well worth it and I will surely do it again.  This is one recipe for the books!  Happy Baking!

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