Classic Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_1371I’ve never made real cinnamon rolls with yeast before these, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Admittedly, this represents a life of luxury that is 100% untenable, but I decided while eating one of these cinnamon rolls that I would never eat anything else. Terrible, terrible idea, but I was ready to give up everything for those swirls of cinnamon sugar. Instead, I thought it wise to eat one and then foist them on my coworkers–spread the wealth or something like that.

DSC_1282Yeasted cinnamon rolls are one of those things that just require a lot of time and attention. The dough is sticky and finnicky, and it has to rise twice–not to mention the rolling out, rolling up, and cutting of the rolls themselves. It’s the sort of thing that you should do the night before, or aim for brunch. You need coffee before tackling this project.

DSC_1296Because cinnamon rolls are such a time-consuming endeavor, you’ll have lots of time to read a book, catch a nap, or troll celebrity gossip websites while you wait for the dough to rise. Not that I know anything about trolling celebrity gossip, that’s just an example. This is also the kind of breakfast that will impress the pants off of people, so plan to take these puppies out!

DSC_1297Be warned: health food they are not. Butter and brown sugar are doing the real work, and the cinnamon offers its classic spiciness to the mix.

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DSC_1313By the time you’ve done all the proper waiting, and you’re just putting the pan of rolls into the oven, you’ll find ourself really, really hoping that they turn out okay. I mean, you’ve spent a lot of time making sure that you did all the right steps, you’ve already had to clean the table twice, your stomach is grumbling, and you’re maybe going to be late to brunch. But by the time you sit back down to your celeb gossip (ahem BOOK ahem), you’ll catch a whiff of the bubbly sugar, and you’ll know that you made the right choice.

DSC_1374Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls:
(adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen)

Dough
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one envelope)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To begin, melt the butter for the dough in the microwave (or in a pot if you want to get all fancy). Then, combine the melted butter with the milk, and microwave both for 30-45 seconds, or until the mixture is warm. It should be between 105 and 115 degrees F, so it should feel warmer than your finger, but not hot. Combine the milk with the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then, add one cup of the flour, the salt, sugar, and egg. Mix vigorously for a minute or until completely combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment.

Slowly add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low speed. When the dough is pulling away from the walls of the bowl and is not very sticky to the touch, take it out of the mixer, make it into a neat ball, and plop it into another bowl, coated with cooking spray. Turn the ball over once to cover it in oil, then cover the bowl gently with a tea towel and place it in a warm spot.

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prep the filling. Make sure your butter is coming to room temperature, and mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

When it’s done rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape. It should be about a quarter-inch thick. Using a butter knife of spatula, gently spread the room-temperature butter on the dough, leaving about a half-inch around the edges. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter.

Using your fingers, start rolling from the long side of the dough rectangle, and be sure to gently pinch the roll together to keep it tightly rolled. When you’re done, place the seam side down on the table. Measure one inch increment on the log, and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the rolls.

Place the rolls into a greased 8×8 baking dish. You should be able to fit nine, but it will be snug. For me, this recipe seems to make about a pan and a half (12-14 rolls). When they’re all in, cover the pans with a tea towel for their second rise. This time, they will almost double again, but it will take only 45-55 minutes. Make sure you give them time, the second rise is what makes them fluffy.

When they’re done rising again, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20 minutes, or until browned on top.

While the rolls are cooling, put the glaze together. Mix the room temperature butter and cream cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla. That’s it!

Let the pans cool for at least 20 minutes, then glaze and serve (with coffee and a nap)!

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Blueberry Waffles

What’s your idea of an ideal Saturday? Mine totally involves two pots of coffee–one early and one a few hours later, after breakfast. There should also be waffles. Waffles are one of those things that you can do a million different ways: almond flour or buckwheat flour make hearty, earthy waffles. White flour and buttermilk make fluffy waffles that are the perfect vehicle for nuts, fruit, or even chocolate chips. This time, I went blueberry. Simple, classic, and easy.DSC_0411On this particular Saturday morning, I got up early and piddled around the house, cleaning halfheartedly and working my way through pot of coffee number one with Jason. At about seven, he left for work and I sat down to decide what to make for breakfast. I finally decided on blueberry waffles, turned on the audiobook that I’ve been listening to, and got to work.  Continue reading

Christmas & A Swiss Chard Pear Tart

DSC_0082Doesn’t Christmas happen really fast? I feel like I’m slowly getting ready for it all through November, and then after Thanksgiving I keep telling myself that I have a bunch of time before Christmas, but that’s never true. I ended up–like always–scrambling in the last couple of weeks to get gifts for everyone, and most of my homemade gift ideas went totally down the tubes. The things that I did manage to make are done hastily and I certainly did not to take pictures of it while I did it. You’ll have to believe me that I made a lovely marmalade, Irish cream, and vanilla. Just take my word for it, will you? I did have a chance to make brunch on Christmas day, and the tart that I made was so good, I remade a few mini-tarts today with the sole purpose of taking pictures…and then eating them for dinner. But, before we talk tart crust and custard, here’s a peek at my Christmas.
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We went out oystering and made friends with a pelican.
DSC_0125Palaki the dog is terrified of me, but only if he’s inside. When we’re outside, he can deal.
DSC_0181My Dad and Uncle Dickie
DSC_0186After about an hour, we had a bushel and a peck of oysters.
DSC_0200These are their excited faces–just before opening presents!
DSC_0202I think my dad has a future in glove modeling, don’t you?
DSC_0205More gift modeling
DSC_0198Coffee and beer at breakfast.
DSC_0092My Mom and I make sugar cookies every year, and it’s always a little messy.
DSC_0104We made stars and trees.
DSC_0231Speaking of my Mom, here she is with Mona.
DSC_0245We had Prosecco cocktails on Christmas morning…

DSC_0217...And Emily wore everything she opened.
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Santa brought lots of books and an ice cream maker!
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Mona got a bone and a blanket. She also helped everyone else open their gifts.
DSC_0077Okay, okay, back to this tart. I made it on Christmas morning, so I promise it’s deceptively easy. It’s just a simple butter crust, and you don’t have to roll it out, it’s just a press-in situation. You can even make the crusts ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator or freeze them.

Here’s the recipe for the crust: (makes 4 mini tarts, 1 nine-inch round tart, or 1 14 inch rectangular tart)

1 cup all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
pinch of salt
4-5 Tablespoons of ice cold water

Whisk the flour and salt together, then cut the butter into the flour mixture using either a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers. It should look like course meal when you’re done; none of the pieces should be larger than a pea.

Pour the water into the mixture and using a fork, gently incorporate the liquid. When you can pick up a handful of dough and it holds together when squeezed, it’s done. If it doesn’t hold together, add more water. Do not overmix.

Dump the course dough into the pan and gently press it into the bottom and against the sides. Smooth the edges with your finger.

If you’re planning to keep the tarts for a while, place them in the refrigerator or freezer, well wrapped, at this point. If you’re going to make them now, You should still chill them for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

For the filling: (recipe adapted from http://www.cannellevanille.com)

1 medium leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped Swiss chard, (remove tough ribs but use the tender ones)
2 tablespoons white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 ounce  Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
1 medium Bartlett or Bosc pear, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a pan over medium-high heat, sautee the garlic and leeks in olive oil until fragrant. Then add the swiss chard, wine, a pinch of salt and pepper, cover and let the greens wilt. It should take about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk, eggs, coconut milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, half of the Gruyère, and the Parmesan.

Take the tart shells out of the refrigerator, poke holes in the bottom, and bake just the shell for about 10 minutes. Press any bubbles down when you take them out of the oven.

In the par-baked shells, make a layer on the bottom with the sauteed greens, then arrange the sliced pears on top of the greens, then pour the milk mixture over everything, stopping when the shells are nearly full. Top with the remaining Gruyère.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, pop off the tart pan’s sides, and enjoy warm!
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