Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls

King Arthur Flour (KAF) has done it again. This recipe produces a very soft and pillowy roll that tastes fresh even the next day. They prove again, that technique is important. The vanilla icing is rich and wonderful. As they state, “the result is truly the ultimate cinnamon roll.”

Whenever you bake, it’s important to use fresh and quality ingredients. Make sure your yeast is still fresh, the flour is the correct flour for the recipe and not expired. I sometimes only use a flour once because of a recipe, and it just sits on the shelf until the fateful expiration-date-trash-toss. You can freeze flour if you don’t think you will be using it soon. It’s important to have the right space. If you have to roll a dough, you should have the space to roll it and for excess flour to splash about. I cover counter items with dish towels so I don’t have flour between olive oil bottles and such. Most importantly, you need to make time. Look at the recipe and see if it accounts for the prep, bake, or total time. Add on to whatever time is stated. Professional bakers are more skilled. The equipment they use is not the same as ours. I have started using a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients. It does make a difference.

I’m not a librarian but I play one in real life. I love to research. So, I approached this recipe with caution. I was glad there wasn’t a “best” snuck into the title. There is no “best.” I follow KAF on Instagram (@kingarthurbaking). They made a video on how make this recipe. Several tips, not included in the recipe, were shown in the video. I was unfamiliar with the Japanes technique, tangzhong. After watching the video, I knew how to do it and what it should look like. Confidence booster. This technique pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which helps them retain liquid, thus enhancing softness and shelf life. Food science! I also followed the suggestion of adding the rest of the milk to the tangzhong, when it was done, to take the chill off the milk. One more trick I learned was to brush the rolled out dough with some milk, to make the cinnamon filling stick. Also, somewhere between the video and printed tips, I learned that rolling it too tightly, makes the center “pop” when it’s cooked. Yes. More information that I need to stop the cursed mountain looking roll.

Ingredients

Tangzhong:

1/2 cup (113 grams) whole milk

3 tablespoons (23 grams) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

Dough:

2/3 cup (151) whole milk, cold

2 1/2 cups (300 grams) King Arthur Flour Unbleached Bread Flour

1 tsp. (6 grams) salt

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened

Filling

1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter, melted

1/2 cup (107 grams) light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons (15 grams) King Arthur Flour Unbleached Bread Flour

3 to 4 teaspoons (8 grams to 10 grams) cinnamon

1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt

Icing:

3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, melted and divided

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/16 tsp. (pinch) salt

1 1/2 cups (170 grams) confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1 to 2 tablespoons (14 grams to 28 grams) milk or cream enough to thin to desired consistency ( I like it thick)

Instructions:

To make the tangzhong, combine both ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until there are no lumps. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened. It should be thick as paste. If you drag a spoon along the bottom of the pan, the mixture does not cover the drag line. It should take about 1-3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Add the 2/3 cup of milk to the pan, to take the chill off. Warm milk helps the yeast rise quicker. Hot milk, over 110 degrees, will kill the yeast.

To make the dough, transfer the tangzhong and milk from the pan into a the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl in the order listed. If you didn’t add the milk to the tangzhong, add the 2/3 cup of milk to mixer, to warm the cold milk.

Mix on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook. Once it’s mixed, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and tacky. This will take about 10-12 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer. I periodically stopped the mixer and scraped the dough off the hook, and then turned it back on. I wanted to make sure it was getting kneaded.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover (shower cap!) Let the dough rise until puffy, but not necessarily doubled in bulk. This should take from 60-90 minutes depending on the warmth of your kitchen. I like to turn my over on to 200 degrees, and place the dough near the back of the stove, so the heat from the oven helps it rise. Keep an eye on it. I turn the pan so both sides get some warmth. If the pan seems hot, pull it toward the front of the stove. You don’t want them to cook, just warm enough to help the rise.

To make the filling, while the dough is rising, put the melted butter into a medium bowl and add the rest of the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. I used Vietnamese cinnamon. It’s very strong. I used 3 tablespoons and it was still strong. Next time I will use only 2 tablespoons. If you are using regular grocery store cinnamon, use the recipe recommended amount. You can add less and then add more once you have tasted it. Always taste. Set the bowl aside.

Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper. I prefer parchment paper.

To assemble the rolls, transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and press it into a 10″ x 12″ rectangle. I treated myself to this rolling mat and don’t regret it. It’s made of silicone, so there’s no sticking, no grease to wipe off. I use it when I roll out my pie dough too. Handy but not necessary. For evenly shaped rolls, try to pat the dough into an actual rectangle (with corners). You don’t need a rolling pin for this. I did use one after I patted it into a rectangle.Try to handle it as little as possible. You don’t want it to snap back on you. If it does, give it a rest before you continue. It’s very pliable, so it should be easy to shape.

To help the cinnamon mixture stick, I brushed the dough with a little milk. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but the 1/2″ strip along one long side.

Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log. Don’t roll it too tightly. This will cause the center to pop out when it’s baking. Pinch the seam together with your fingers. This recipe makes 8 generous rolls. I would not change the size, but you can. I score the log in the middle. Then I score each half, at the half point. And then again to make 8 scores. Using dental floss is the best way to cut the dough into individual rolls. Slip it under the dough, cross it on the score mark, and pull the ends. Voila! The rolls are not squished. Save the minty floss for your teeth. Only use unflavored floss for your rolls. But you knew that!

Place the rolls on your baking sheet. The directions say to space them 2 inches apart. I like to space them closer. I like when they rise and bake to be touching. Pulling apart warm rolls is one of life’s joys. Keeping them close helps keep the rolls from unraveling too. I put them about an inch apart. You can lay them out in a 3-2-3 pattern. If you do space them further apart, to hold the ends in place, you can tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the rolls.

Cover the rolls with a clean dish towel and let the rise for 30-60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The rolls should be puffy and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when pressed. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the rolls for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190 degrees. Bake for the lesser amount of time for extra-soft rolls, and the longer amount of time for rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.

Remove rolls from the oven, place pan on a cooling rack, and brush the hot rolls with 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter. Let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.

To make icing, combine the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 grams) of melted butter with the remaining icing ingredients in a medium bowl. I sift my sugar through a mesh strainer. Nothing fancy. Mix with a spatula until smooth. I did not divide my butter. I used only one bowl to melt the butter. and brushed enough to coat the rolls. I used the remaining melted butter for the icing. Not quite what the directions said, but it worked out wonderfully. I had to add a little more milk. I like the icing to be thick. When the rolls are warm, thick icing melts a little into crevices, while some stays on top. It’s magical.

If you have any left you can store them at room temperature for a few days, or freeze them up to 1 month.

Next time I may add cooked cinnamon sugar apples to the filling. You can also add raisins.

Enjoy!

Brussels sprouts with sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and bacon

BACON!! There. I got your attention! Woo hoo. Brussels sprouts! Wait!! Come back! I promise you will love them. I’ve adapted this recipe from my favorite food blogger on Instagram, Diane Morrisey. She’s fab. Her recipes are fab.

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 or so pieces of bacon

1 pound Brussel sprouts (fresh not frozen) quartered with stems removed

bacon grease

olive oil

salt and pepper

The beauty of this dish is the use of bacon grease as a cooking oil, and crispy bits of bacon mixed in with perfectly roasted vegetables, topped of with dried cranberries. Put it in a fancy bowl and you WILL impress your family.  It’s so easy. The preparation can be done in steps, which is my favorite approach to anything.

I start with cooking the bacon on the stove top, low and slow. You want it crispy. Once it’s crispy, put it on a paper towel lined dish. After it cools, you will break it up or chop it, and add the bacon to the vegetables, later. When I am feeling particularly lazy, I use microwave bacon. Don’t judge. It’s still bacon!

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The next step is to prepare the sweet potatoes. I peel and dice them. You want them to roast quickly, so make sure they are not too large.img_1736

Then I trim the Brussels sprouts. Once the end is cut off, I cut the sprouts in quarters, pulling off the outer leaves. Sometime they are spotted or wilted. Just toss them.

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Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the vegetables in a bowl. Use the bacon grease and some olive oil to coat the vegetables. You’ll have a nice shiny coat. Ha!  Add salt and pepper. You can always add more while they are cooking. 

Arrange the vegetables on a sheet pan, in a single layer. You don’t want them overlapping. They need to be separated to roast. 

Roast them for about 20 minutes. Give them a toss or a stir. They may start caramelizing. You can add a sprinkle or two of more olive oil if needed. You want them in some olive oil to roast and not burn. Just look at the sheet pan. You will know! Cook them for another 15- 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven when all the vegetables are fork tender. Taste some and see if it needs more salt and pepper.  I like to add the chopped/broken up bacon and dried cranberries to the sheet pan. Let them all warm up together.  You can serve this room temperature or hot. 

This is good side dish for chicken, beef or pork. I hope you try this recipe. Roasted vegetables are a fantastic way to introduce vegetables to your family. The leftovers also make a great lunch.

 

 

Creamy Garlic Butter Scallops with Prosciutto

The other day I headed to Trader Joe’s and the lines stretched out past several store fronts. I kept driving and headed to Whole Foods. No lines. I found some frozen scallops and grabbed them. It was meant to be! The day before I found some prosciutto on sale at another grocery store. Dinner. Planned. For the side dish, Cacio e Pepe seemed seemed like the perfect match for the scallops and the cream sauce.

Cruising the web I found a recipe that did not wrap the prosciutto around the scallops. The concept just did not seem right. And it involved cream. And wine.

My only warning, besides be hungry, is to watch how much you salt the pasta water and the scallops. The prosciutto is salty and the pasta has two different salty cheeses. Use salt judiciously. You can always add salt, but you cannot remove it.

Make sure your scallops are dry. I put them on a plate with paper towels on top and bottom, to absorb any water. When they hit the pan, you don’t want hot oil spitting at you. They will also brown better if they are dry. I had about four scallops for each of us as I was also serving pasta. The portions were good.

This dish cooks relatively quickly. I was concerned with making the quick pasta dish at the same time. I made sure I had ingredients for both recipes measured out so I could work quickly. I started cooking the pasta first knowing it goes back into a hot pan with melted butter and then cheese. It would warm up quickly. After I drained the pasta, I started cooking the scallops. It all worked out perfectly. Everything was hot and delectable.

Ingredients

1 tbsp. olive oil

8 oz scallops (about 10 large scallops)

3 oz prosciutto (roughly chopped or just torn into large pieces)

2 tbsp. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 tsp salt or to taste

1/4 tsp pepper or to taste

First step is to make sure all the ingredients are measured out or ready to be used.

Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the scallops to the skillet in a single layer and sear them on each side until slightly golden. Remove the scallops from the skillet to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet add the chopped prosciutto and fry until nice and crispy. Leaving the prosciutto in the pan, add the butter and the garlic to the skillet and cook until butter melts and the garlic becomes aromatic.

Stir in the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the heavy cream and stir while it thickens and reduces. Taste the sauce after it reduces a bit. If you think it needs salt you may add it now. I strongly suggest you taste it first. Cook the sauce until it thickens. I would double the cream. Or triple it. I like to reduce cream sauces until they are very thick. You’ll also want enough sauce to drizzle on the pasta. If you think there’s too much, then don’t use it all. But you will want more! Add the scallops back into the skillet. You can garnish it with fresh parsley.

I like to plate the pasta first, and the put the scallops and sauce on top. Enjoy!

Super Easy Chocolate Fudge

I have never made fudge before and I don’t know why. It’s fantastic. You can gift it in a box, or put it in a clear food bag with a bow. Better yet, keep it in the fridge for yourself. I was inspired to make fudge on the pretense it would give me some Christmas spirit. It failed at that, but the fudge was delicious. I found a recipe that used both semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips. We loved it. As much as I love semi-sweet chocolate chips in cookies, milk chocolate chips add the sweetness fudge needs. I love marshmallows, so I added one cup of mini-marshmallows to the fudge. It made me smile.

Ingredients:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

1 cup milk chocolate chips (6 ounces)

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Optional: 1 cup of chopped nuts or mini-marshmallows

Lightly grease an 8 inch square pan. Line it with plastic wrap leaving the ends out over the edge, to cover the finished fudge. The ends will also serve as “handles” to lift out the fudge from the pan.

In a double boiler or a bowl over simmering water, combine the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Be patient. It takes a little while and it gets very thick. Stir in nuts or marshmallows before pouring into the pan.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread gently, then cover light with the ends of the plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until the fudge is firm. Lift the chilled fudge out of the pan and cut into small squares. I use a long serrated knife to cut the fudge.

Serve and enjoy.

Recipe variations:

Gently press in 1/2 cup of toffee bits into the top of fudge once it’s in the pan.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of bourbon or rum into the fudge along with the vanilla.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup of dried cranberries, raisins or chopped dried cherries.

Here’s the original recipe.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/super-easy-chocolate-fudge-3057014