Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adventures in Cinnamon-Roll-Land

Last week my roommates and I embarked on another late night baking fest. Our victim of choice was the cinnamon roll.

Around 8 o'clock we began our journey by scalding a milk & sugar mixture. At 9 o'clock, when the milk/sugar mixture cooled to lukewarm, we added flour and yeast. When 10 o'clock rolled around we added more flour, salt, and baking soda (I'm still trying to figure out why there is a chemical leavening agent in a yeast raised dough- so far I'm still confused). From there we rolled the dough into a rectangle and added pools of butter, copious amounts of sugar and a heavy dose of cinnamon. Per usual, we had difficulties sheeting the dough out - the first batch was too thick and the second too thin. Maybe next time it will be just perfect. We rolled the our imperfectly thick dough into a log, sliced it up and placed it in pans. It was about this time we started to realize we were going to need a lot more pans than we had originally planned. Unbeknownst to us, the recipe yielded 8 pans of cinnamon rolls - not simply one. Fortunately, the problem was easily solved by rummaging around in our cabinets for more roll baking vehicles. After allowing the mini rounds of happiness proof (rise) for about 30 minutes we popped them into the oven. Twenty minutes later the oven proudly presented us a hot bready cinnamon laden sweet pan of goodness. We moved quickly to top them with sugary icing.

Too thin.

Too thick. In the process of rolling this batch, we emptied about 1/3 of the butter-sugar-cinnamon filling onto the counter. Not wanting to leave any juiciness behind, we spooned the nectar off the counter and onto the rolls.

Our next step in the adventure was to grab three forks, sit on the couch and devour some warm gooey cinnamon rolls. One of the best decisions we made all evening.

However, the real fun began after we had baked and iced all 8 pans. Understanding the profound significance of removing the remaining 7 pans from our apartment -lest we end up eating them all- we drove off at 11:30 PM to deliver the sweet dough mounds to men. First door, none of the roommates we knew were home and we woke up the only guy inside. Sorry. Second house, again the only boys we knew weren't there, and the guy who answered the door looked severely confused. Third house first try- wrong house where we met a really nice girl. Second try- wrong house where we met a bunch of random guys and a dog. Third try- correct house! I believe the problem was the darkness and that all the houses looked the same.

Things I've Noticed About Roommate Baking Sessions:

  1. Reject products are easily and readily consumed
  2. We bake in large quantities by accident
  3. Baking begins after 8 PM
  4. Errors become exposed approximately half way through the process

Things to Improve for Next Roommate Baking Session:

  1. Read directions fully and notice recipe yield amount
  2. Begin baking before 8 PM
  3. Obtain sufficient amounts of necessary ingredients
  4. Notify recipients of baked goods and understand where they live

Here's the recipe we used:

Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls

1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
3 cups (to 4 Cups) Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
1 bag Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
½ cups Milk
¼ cups Melted Butter
⅛ teaspoons Salt

Preparation Instructions
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).
When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1 ½ to 2 cups melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.
Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees (see note below) until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.
For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

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