Thursday, May 20, 2010

March Goal: Yeast Bread

March has come and gone, and I've only sort of accomplished my March goal. Technically, these fantastic cinnamon rolls are made from a yeast dough, but a) they don't compare in difficulty to a full-blown bread, and b) I've made cinnamon rolls with yeast before. Actually, I used to make basic cinnamon rolls every Christmas for breakfast.

So why have I cut corners? Well, March was crazy: the busy season of my last semester of classes and the weeks before I presented research at a conference in Seattle. Also, for the potluck on the last Thursday of March, everyone was supposed to bring something from their past, or their family, and, as I said, I used to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas. So I killed two birds with one stone.

I was able to take this opportunity to fix the things that never worked out so well about my Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. First of all, I don't remember doing much actual kneading of the dough. Secondly, in my impatience, I'd make the rolls, then set them in the oven set at the lowest setting to let them rise. Instead, they'd often just dry out and stay the same size. (My dear family never complained, and even complemented the rolls on not being too sickeningly sweet and gooey.) This time, I kneaded the dough thoroughly for the recommended 10 minutes. Also, I let it rise both before and after forming the rolls, both times in an oven that had been turned on, and then turned off.

Oh, and these weren't just plain Jane cinnamon rolls; they were cardamom cinnamon rolls. Perhaps I haven't been blogging long enough for you to know this, but I am pretty obsessed with cardamom. And I had recently obtained whole cardamom pods from my friend Aditya (who uses them in savory Indian cooking). So that was quite a treat. And one last thing: there's no cream cheese frosting on top of the cinnamon rolls; it's actually spread on the inside before the cinnamon-sugar filling, so it permeates the whole roll. Perfection!

After all was baked and eaten, it's clear that the cinnamon rolls were a good move. And I can always fit some more intense bread-baking into the less-stressful summer months.

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls
from The Paupered Chef

for the dough
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 tsp salt
1 package yeast
1 egg, beaten
3 cups all purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
two teaspoons whole black cardamom pieces (from inside cardamom pods), ground in a mortar and pestle or spice blender

for the frosting filling
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter

for the cinnamon filling
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

for topping the rolls
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup pearl sugar (optional)

1. Scald the milk in a saucepan (until bubbles form around the edge, but before the whole thing boils).
2. Put the butter, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and stir to combine.
3. Proof the yeast: put it in a small bowl with 1/2 tsp sugar and 2 Tbsp warm (but not hot) water. Meanwhile, add about half of the flour and the lemon zest to the milk mixture, and stir well. When the yeast begins to foam, add it to the milk mixture, along with the beaten egg. Mix well.
4. Continue adding the rest of the flour, and stirring until flour is mostly mixed in. Switch to kneading with your hands, adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers (it should feel sticky, but not actually stick, thanks to the butter). Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
5. Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour. (One good option is to turn on the oven to the lowest setting while kneading, and turn it off before setting the bowl in the oven.)
6. While dough is rising, combine frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
7. When the dough is about double in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it into 2 pieces. Roll one piece into a large rectangle, about 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.
8. Spread half of the frosting mixture into a thin layer on the dough (avoiding the outer inch of the dough). Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar mixture.
9. Roll the rectangle from one of the longer sides into a long cylinder. Transfer the roll to a cutting board, and use a very sharp knife to cut the cylinder into 1 inch wide pieces. Set these into a rectangular baking dish, with no room between them.
10. Roll out, frost, sugar, roll up, and cut the second piece of dough, placing the rolls in the baking dish with the others.
11. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the rolls and lightly brush them with the beaten egg. (Optional: sprinkle with the pearl sugar).
13. Bake the rolls until they just begin to brown, 15-20 minutes.

Did I mention that that was the night that the 5th seeded Bulldog basketball team from my alma mater, Butler University, beat the 1 seed Syracuse? Here's a screen shot when they were tied...

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1 comment:

  1. Yummy! I made cinnamon rolls for the first time this weekend, and felt so proud once I was done, lol! So far my most "advanced" yeast bread has been French bread. Something about the triple rise has always made me feel like a baking rockstar when I pull out a "perfect" golden brown loaf!