Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maiden attempt

Stuck at home today, so I decided to attempt a yeast cinnamon roll. From my favorite cookbook (many of the recipes also available on line).

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
from the Chicago Tribune, with adaptations (namely, didn't have any buttermilk)

Prep: 25 minutes Rise: 2 hours, 15 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Makes: 12 rolls

1 cup plain buttermilk plus 2 T milk (I used yogurt plus 2 tablespoons sourcream), at room temperature
Zest of 1 orange
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) softened butter, cut into cubes, plus 6 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup milk

Whisk together the buttermilk, orange zest and eggs in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the wheat flour, 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, yeast, baking soda, 3/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt and the softened butter. Add buttermilk mixture; mix over low speed until the mixture comes together, about 1 minute. Place a towel over the top of the mixture; let rest 15 minutes.

Mix on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes, adding up to 1/4 cup more flour if the dough is too wet. Scrape the dough from the bowl; form into a ball. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, for the filling, sift together the brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Transfer risen dough to a well-floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle 1/4-inch thick and about 17-by-12-inches wide. Brush the dough with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter; sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over, keeping 1 inch clear along one of the long edges.

Loosely roll the dough into a long tube, pressing the clear edge along the length of the dough to seal the tube. Place the tube, seam-side down, on the work surface. Cut the tube crosswise into 12 evenly sized rolls. Place the rolls, spiral side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1/2-inch apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. Half an hour into the rise, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the tray; cool on the parchment paper.

Verdict: delicious, but takes too damned long.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Haven't done a savory one for a while

Cheddar cheese scones
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (reserve the extra white)
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix dry ingredients; add butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in grated cheese. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture and honey into dry mixture until dough forms (will be somewhat sticky). Roll out into a disc about 12" across, and slice into 8 wedges. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops lightly with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with grated cheese and sea salt.

Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Oh dear g*d these are so good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Invented scone today

This is a delicious, crumbly scone. Unfortunately, my batch wasn't pretty enough to photograph. Your job is to make some pretty ones and send me the pictures.

Cinnamon marble oat scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, ground fine
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup honey
6 T butter, melted
1/3 cup sour cream, thinned with a little milk

1/2 cup brown sugar (or 1/3 cup cane sugar mixed w 2 teaspoons molasses)
1 T ground cinnamon
4-5 T softened butter
1/3 cup plumped raisins and 1/3 cup crushed walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, beat egg until frothy, and stir in melted butter, honey, and milk. Pour into the well, and mix to create a soft dough. Roll the dough into a 1/2" thick slab. Dough will be malleable but slightly crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, plumped raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, softened margarine.

Spread the butter mixture over the scone dough. Carefully fold the dough over 5- 6 times until you have a "rolled" loaf about 6x10". Using a sharp knife, slice it in half, so you have two 3" loaves, then cut each loaf into about 6 pieces. Gently pat the pieces to shape them slightly (so that the layers don't fall apart when baking).

Using a baking sheet with edges (important, because the butter mixture will leak), line with parchment, place the slices wide side down with 2" between, and bake for 15 minutes, until risen and lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Traditionally, for Imbolc (Tuanmas, Candlemas, Groundhog Day), I should be baking with milk products-- goat cheese, ewe's milk, cow's milk-- but I'm not a big fan of ewe's milk, and I have these candied winter melons I've been dying to try. Since it's also nearly Chinese New Year, and winter melon is an Asian fruit, I'll try this for a snowy day.

Winter melon is not a sweet fruit. It looks like a cucumber with a pituitary problem, and has a mild, almost smoky flavor more similar to zucchini in taste and texture than anything else. It's not actually a melon, but lives in a genera all its own, Benincasa. They grow beautifully in Illinois, in fact a little too beautifully. I ended up with several melons totaling nearly 50 pounds. Guess what kind of preserves everyone got for Christmas.

This one's an experiment, my notes on flavor below. If someone wants to mess with the ingredients, get back to me and let me know how it goes.

Winter melon scones
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (reduce to 2 cups, increase oats)
1/2 cup oats, ground (post-taste notes: I'd try maybe increasing this to 1 cup, with half of it unground)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup diced candied winter melon (conserve the liquid)
1/2 cup wintermelon preserves, plus the liquid from the candied fruit
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (maybe reduce, don't put in the extra yolk)
2/3 cup sour cream (try 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream instead)
crushed almonds, no more than 1 cup

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Adjust a baking rack to the middle position.

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, knife or your hands until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir the candied melon into the flour mixture. Lightly beat the preserves, candied liquid, egg, yolk, and sour cream together in a bowl, then add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface with floured hands, pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter). Using a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and let them cool slightly before serving.

Post taste: flavor was light, a little bland, but nice with butter and honey. Very springy, but slightly gummy texture, my notes on possible fixes in small type in the recipe. I like the white color of these--no wheat flour--but whole wheat flour might improve the texture.