It was J's birthday this month, so instead of cake (or cupcakes), I followed his family's tradition and made cinnamon rolls from scratch.
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook
1/2 Sweet Roll Dough
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Sweet Roll Dough:
(I glanced at the instructions for the cinnamon rolls and actually used the whole amount for these. Oops? They still came out grandly.)
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 F)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening (or margarine or butter), softened
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.)
Punch down dough. Shape, let rise, and bake as directed.
Do-ahead Tip: After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.
The Cinnamon Roll Instructions:
Roll dough into rectangle, 15x9 inches, on lightly floured surface; brush with melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well. Stretch roll to make even. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices (The cookbook said 9, I got way more than that... probably because I didn't halve the dough like it said.) Place slightly apart in greased square pan, or in greased medium muffin cups. Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Spread rolls with Glaze while warm.
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla until glaze is smooth and of desired consistency.
On the dough:
I didn't have a thermometer, so I let the water cool until I stuck my finger in and the temperature felt just a little bit warmer than my mouth (since we humans all run at about 97 F anyway). I also probably put the milk in a little bit warm, but the dough still came out all right anyway. I had to put all 4 cups of flour in and then more as I was kneading it. I was indeed in a sticky situation with dough globs for hands until enough flour was added. I think this made the dough a little dense. I would have preferred for it to be a little more tender and flaky, but since this was the first time I have really done anything with a yeast dough, I wasn't too disappointed.
I made the dough two days ahead, and when I was ready, let the dough rise in a very cool oven, and that seemed to work well. I was worried it wouldn't rise.
On the cinnamon rolls:
I have a large square mat that is good for rolling out doughs as it is mostly non stick and has a grid on it for measurements. I have never been so thankful I had it until now.
I baked the rolls on a metal baking sheet, but J suggested baking them in a glass dish with all the rolls touching.
On the glaze:
It came out a bit thick with the given measurements, so J and I added more milk until it was the right consistency.
And one last note: These are definitely special day sort of baking. While it wasn't that hard, it took a lot of time and diligence, but it was worth it for a birthday, certainly. I'm taking this tradition and running with it. We'll see next year if they get any better.
Heat oven to 45o F. Mix dry ingredients, then cut shortening into the mixture. Mix ingredients with your hands until the texture is about like cornmeal/fine crumbs. Add cheeses. Stir in just enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl and rounds up into a ball. (This dough is like Goldilocks-- too much and it's sticky, too little and it's dry. You want the milk just right.)
From here, the cookbook suggests rolling out the biscuits onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times, roll it 1/2" thick and cut with a floured 2" biscuit cutter. But that's too much work for me, so I drop about a palmful of dough (however big of a biscuit I'd like to eat that day) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush a garlic butter mixture over each biscuit.
Heat about a half stick of unsalted butter in the microwave until melted (but don't let it blow up into a mess in the microwave).
Stir in about a half tsp. of garlic powder.
Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Make sure you watch these! You know how your oven runs (mine runs very hot, so I always shorten baking time). When the biscuits are done, brush again with the garlic butter.
(I like eating mine with a glass of milk and bacon, or I've made huuuge biscuits and turned them into a ham and cheese sandwich with apples.)
Edit 9.30.11: You know those cheese biscuits at that restaurant chain? You know. Yeah, this is the recipe for it. Yeah, yeah, everyone says that about the Cheddar Bay Biscuit recipe, but I've made it, it's similar to this, but it's not quite the same. This one's it, really. Well, that is, this recipe is it if you put waaaay more cheese than is called for. So, stub your toe when you're grating the cheddar. Add a little more than you think you need, then add a lot more than that. I overdosed on the cheddar one time while making this, they came out just like Red Lobster's, or at least just like my memory says. Oh, wait, was I not supposed to name the restaurant?
Fall officially began last week, and, wonder of all wonders, it actually felt like fall here in Louisiana instead of after Christmas, the time of year it usually starts to get a little cool. There was a crisp chill to the wind, and the first fallen leaves scuttled on the side walk.
The air got into my veins, and the cool breeze pushed me to embrace the season. I followed Titania's lead and wove a crown of leaves for my hair.
Each Saturday at nine a.m., she would watch the fashion shows that came on E!. She watched with a hungry eye, imagining the day she would be on the other side of the screen, on the other side of the camera wearing the highest designer clothes, clothes she had designed herself. She kept magazine articles about Parson's and yearned for the time she would graduate high school and go away to college in New York. She took sewing classes, dug through the remnant bins at fabric stores, and scribbled away at mediocre designs. Then the fashion shows stopped airing. She stopped designing clothes. She graduated high school. She went to university. It wasn't Parson's.
The book that started it all was one of those Klutz books, a craft do-it-yourself for older kids still young enough to need the books to keep them out of their mother's way. She was in fifth grade and would spend hours pouring over her beads and different ways to string them. She made the rounds at all the craft shops that sold beads and findings, stuffing shoe boxes full of treasures she bought. She got bored with stringing beads and pushed herself to find new ways to twist wire and filament into wearable art. She wanted to make metal melt and stones shine, but the equipment and materials were always too expensive for a teenager's hobby. She thought she might become a jeweler, get a major in jewelry design, work at Tiffany's. She majored in journalism instead, but she never buys jewelry she can make.
Food Network was her go-to channel. If nothing else was on, she'd watch those TV chefs. One day she though to herself, I can do that. And she did. She stocked her pantry, bought some pots and pans, found some recipes, and started cooking. She loved it, loved how everything melted away when she was dicing and chopping vegetables or when she was mixing a marinade or stirring together ingredients. She thought about quitting college and running off to culinary school. Her mother told her wait till she graduated. Besides, the pay and the hours of a chef wasn't worth it.
Easy Oven Roasted Veggies:
Julienne veggies in to manageable sizes. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil. Spread out veggies on sheet, season with fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste. Drizzle top of veggies with olive oil. Bake in oven at 425 F until crisp and done, but make sure not to let them burn!
It made sense that she'd start making books. After all, she loved everything else about a book-- from the way it smelled to the black and white lines on the pages, the words, the meaning. She had already amassed a small collection of blank books she only slowly filled. She had fun matching papers, sewing up the book block, although she cringed when she made puddled messes of glue. She was thrilled when she found a bone folder in the scrapbook section of the craft store, and she felt like a kid in a candy shop when she visited paper stores for the book arts. She daydreamed about running off to Italy and working in one of the stationary shops that sold handmade leather-bound books, but wrote it off as not only a pipe dream, but a crack-pipe dream.
So then she thought she'd be a writer. It's a profession that doesn't make much more money than an artist, but what was that saying about a penny saved? She had grand visions of working at magazines with titles found on every newsstand. Instead she ended up working for the local mag-- glossy pages, but no name recognition. She thought she'd write about books, about music, about movies. But she only wrote of small-town businesses to a small-town demographic. And then she started a blog, to write about all the things she dreamed she wanted to do.
Saturday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it was also my birthday. It seemed logical to start new lives after completing another year of my old one.