Monday, February 21, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Who doesn't love a warm, ooey-gooey cinnamon roll?

These are melt-in-your-mouth, buttery and soft in the middle, and a little crispy and flaky on the outside, almost like puff pastry. Even for a yeast dough, these take a good long while to rise. If you're planning on these for breakfast, either get up really early, and I mean really early, or assemble them the day before and either refrigerate or freeze them. Simply set them out about an hour before you want to bake and Bob's your uncle.
This is the sticky bun dough from the book Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado, adapted to make cinnamon rolls instead of maple rolls.
for the starter:
1 tsp sugar
1/4 C warm milk or water, about 105 degrees F
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour
for the dough
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp warm milk or water
2 large eggs
1 1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
for the filling
1/4-1/2 C softened or melted butter
1/4-1/2 C sugar
1-3 Tbsp cinnamon, or to taste
Chopped nuts, optional
for the starter
1. Combine the sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the flour, forming a soft dough. Let the starter rise, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature until doubled. This took me about 15 minutes.
For the dough
1. Combine the salt, sugar and milk in a small bowl and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
2. Fit the mixer with the dough hook; add the eggs, sugar mixture, and flour to the starter and mix on low until a soft dough forms. Slowly add 1 stick of the butter and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining butter and beat 1 minute, or until the butter is incorporated. The dough is very soft and sticky.
3. Lightly grease a large bowl and scrape the dough into the bowl with a rubber spatula. Lightly dust the dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours.
To assemble
1. Punch down the dough and turn onto a well-floured surface. Gently roll the dough into a 12x18 inche rectangle of uniform thickness, preferably about 1/4" thick.
2. Spread the butter over the entire surface of the dough except for the top 1/2 inch along one long side of the dough. Mix the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle evenly over the butter. Sprinkle chopped nuts over cinnamon mixture.
3. Starting at the long side opposite the unbuttered 1/2", roll the dough into a log. Pinch the dough along the seam to seal. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough into 12 even pieces.
4. Grease a baking sheet well and place the rolls cut-side down about 1-2 inches apart. Allow the rolls to rest for a half-hour.
5. Preheat oven to 375. Bake until the tops are golden, about 15 minutes. The recipe said to bake them for 30 minutes, but that was way, WAY too long!
6. Remove immediately to a wire rack to cool. Top with a powdered sugar glaze, if desired.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

This was going to be a layer cake for our Valentine's Day treat, but it didn't quite turn out as planned... Click here if you want to see what happened. So I tried again a couple days later and did cupcakes instead; they're harder to mess up. Cupcakes are fun, but for some reason I like doing layer cakes better. Maybe I just like the challenge of getting a cake to look purty.
This is one seriously tasty chocolate cake. It's not really difficult, but definitely takes a few more steps than dumping the ingredients into a bowl and mixing. The frosting has a lovely raspberry flavor, but the cream cheese flavor gets a little lost, so I think next time I will use a little more cream cheese and a little less butter. I'm not sure how I feel about having raspberry seeds in frosting, but it does look really nice. It was also very sweet, partly because I had my hubby pick up frozen raspberries for me and he got sweetened ones, and partly because I measured them by volume instead of weight, so it was too many raspberries and I had to use about 6 cups of powdered sugar. Now that I think about it, that's probably also why I couldn't taste the cream cheese.
For the Devi's Food Cake: (from the book A Passion For Baking by Marcy Goldman)
  • 4oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 boiling water
  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 C white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and line two 9"round cake pans with parchment paper (grease the parchment too), or line 2 muffin tins with papers.
2. Place chopped chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir to melt chocolate and then cool.
3. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and both sugars until fluffy and well combined- at least 2 minutes. Blend in eggs, vanilla, and then sour cream. Blend in cooled chocolate and then fold in flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger tips; 30-35 minutes for cake, 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. Cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.
For the Raspberry Cream Cream Cheese frosting: (from goodLife eats)
  • 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 C (40z) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-4 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 6 oz (by weight, not volume) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds only, or 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Cream butter and cream cheese in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add 1 C sugar and beat until smooth. Add half the raspberries and mix until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 C at a time and beat until well incorporated.
2. Add vanilla and remaining raspberries and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, (2-3 minutes) adding more powdered sugar if necessary to reach desired consistency.
3. Pipe or spread onto cooled cakes or cupcakes.

Parchment Paper

For a long time I did't really know what parchment paper was for. Then I just thought it was too expensive, I would be fine with just greasing and flouring my pans really well. Then I bought some, and I do really like it, but for some reason I still insist on greasing and flouring most of the time. I think I've finally learned my lesson. This was supposed to be a lovely devil's food layer cake with raspberry cream cheese frosting for our Valentine's Day treat....

So if you learn only one thing from me, let it be USE PARCHMENT PAPER!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oreo Truffles

This is a very simple and easy way to make a lovely, yummy little treat. Topped with a few sprinkles, they make a perfect Valentine! This is also a fun activity to do with your kids, and adaptable to any holiday. Have fun!

Oreo Truffles
  • 1 pkg Oreos (I like mint), finely crushed
  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz chocolate, melted
  • sprinkles
1. Stir together Oreo crumbs and cream cheese. Roll into balls, using about 1 Tbsp of mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Chill until firm in the fridge or freezer.
2. When firm, drop into melted chocolate and roll around using a couple forks, then place back on paper-lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles. Chill again until chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.