Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls & Bert

If you are in any of my circles, you will likely know who Bert is by now. Just in case, this is Bert. Also goes by Bertie, Meow Meow, and some 7 year old gibberish name I am unable to pronounce. I could go on and on about the various reasons he is awesome, but I will let pictures do most of the talking for me.
His ability to go with the flow is amazing for a 10 week old kitten. Whether it be a pair of rough hands poking and prodding him, the two cattle dogs nosing him around like a soccer ball, or the abyss that is the staircase...he goes with the flow. Mellow fellow. Super chill. We love him. 
The day before we picked up Bert, in celebration of an upcoming feline addition to the household and end of class term for folks, I baked up a batch of cinnamon rolls. Let's just say I have another weakness to add to the nutella list. I can only make these for special occasions and then immediately leave the premises to ensure there are rolls remaining for others to eat. I'm learning that a lady can have many forms of kryptonite in this life
I blame the frosting for my weakness, which is nothing more than buttery goodness drizzled over hot cinnamon buns. As far as cinnamon rolls go, this recipe I found over at Sally's Baking Addiction is super easy. I made my dough and formed the rolls in the pan the night before, then brought the pan back to room temp, letting the rolls rise again, before I attempted any baking. The wee taste testers loved them and I plan to explore some nuttier version in the near future. Now, it's time to do some eating. Happy almost summer! 

Cinnamon Rolls
Borrowed from: Sally's Baking Addiction
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package Red Star Platinum Yeast (1 packet = 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk (cow's milk - I used skim)
  • 2 1/2 tsbp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Coffee Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream 
Make the dough: Set aside 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, toss the remaining flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together until evenly dispersed. Set aside.

Heat the water, milk, and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to touch. About 125F-130F degrees. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and only enough of the reserved flour to make a soft dough. I used nearly all of it, but you may not need to. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I used non-stick spray) and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Make the filling: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14x8 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it all over the dough. Add more cinnamon/sugar if desired. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 11 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan. I used a pie dish, lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes. Here is what I do: heat the oven to 200F degrees. Turn oven off. Place rolls inside oven and allow to rise.

After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. I covered the rolls with aluminum foil after 15 minutes to avoid heavy browning.

Make the glaze: Right before serving, top your cinnamon rolls with glaze. Mix the powdered sugar and milk or cream together until smooth and drizzle over rolls. To thicken the glaze, add more powdered sugar and then add salt to cut the sweetness, if desired.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Yellow Butter Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting

I have a confession to make. I have food guilt. Of various sorts. This may sound funny to you, but I am being sincere here. I. Have. Food. Guilt. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that when I make a delicious meal or bake a creative cake or indulge in something smothered in nutella (a substance I have to limit in my house due to my addictive personality) I experience a period of guilt directly related to the food I just made/baked/consumed. I suppose it is a form of an eating disorder, if one could be related to second generation Irish-Catholic guilt, however it is one I readily and wholeheartedly indulge in on a regular basis. Such as indulging by enjoying this yellow butter birthday cake I recently made.
You likely guessed it; another birthday. I seem to have an affinity for surrounding myself with people who have a birthday within the second quarter of the calendar year. For this week's lucky birthday boy, a helpful bird chirped that he had a long standing hankering for yellow butter birthday cake and homemade buttercream frosting. Being the baker I am, I obliged and surprised the fellow with this buttery goodness.
So yeah, the food guilt thing. Strange, right? That a baker have food guilt. And the funny part is my guilt isn't just associated with consuming too much or overeating, it also has to do with having the guilt of enjoying amazing cuisine when others fight for morsels of food. The guilt is multi-layered, and maybe its presence is merely to remind me to be grateful (which is good if so), but at least it isn't debilitating. I equate my baking to ongoing therapy which is slowly helping me accept my humanness. Or that is the train of thought I often find my brain heading in when standing over the mixer, pouring batter ingredients into a glass bowl. Baking (like running) is a very zen endeavor and meditation when done in the right frame of mind. And with that...namaste from a baker's heart!

Yellow Butter Birthday Cake 
Adapted from:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, yolks separated and slightly mixed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or Pam) two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter (or Pam) parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside. I did mine a second time for good measure. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

In a separate bowl, using a handmixer beat the separated egg whites until frothy. Set aside. 

Into the butter mixture beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Next, gently mix in the whipped egg whites. 

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Buttercream Frosting
Borrowed from: My Baking Addiction
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy add in salt. Slowly add in confectioners' sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.

Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

This recipe will make enough frosting to generously frost 24 cupcakes or one 9 inch layer cake.

You can easily adjust the consistency of this recipe by simply adding in more heavy cream or milk.

If you are a fan of shortening in your buttercream. simply omit one stick of butter and replace with 1/2 cup shortening.

Clear vanilla extract is used in this recipe to keep the frosting nice and white. If you don’t mind a slight color change, feel free to use pure vanilla extract, but decrease the amount to 2 teaspoons.

Covered and refrigerated frosting can be stored for up to three days. Simply bring it to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.

If you choose to dye your frosting, go easy with the dye. Remember, you can always add more color, but you can’t remove it.