The Attempt

Do you have that thing that you will not even attempt to make or bake because someone else holds the honorable “best ever” title?  Perhaps your husband informed you that his mom’s cinnamon rolls are “The Best”.  Perhaps he said this while devouring one of said cinnamon rolls.  Perhaps there was moaning and groaning involved.  Perhaps you made a mental note NEVER to make cinnamon rolls.  EVER.  (Um, hello?  The BEST, people.  Who are you to top the best?  More importantly, who are you to top, ahem, his mother?)  In our world, Grandma T is the reigning Queen of the Cinnamon Roll.  Great Grandma JoAnn is the reigning Queen of the Caramel Roll.  That’s just how it is.  So, I have not ever tried to make either one.  Ever.

Well, up until two Sundays ago when I finally gathered up the courage to make The Attempt.

I was puttering around the kitchen feeling the need to bake something and thought I’d see just what these famous little rolls entail.  My Google search quickly led me to a recipe by Molly Wizenburg.  I became acquainted with Molly and her Orangette website through my friend Beth.  But the fact that I found her through Google and on the Bon Appétit website no less…well, I just KNEW that I had to make Molly’s Cinnamon Rolls.  At least to TRY.  So, I printed the recipe off and decided to give it a go.  Then, I made the shocking discovery that I did not have enough cinnamon.  I think the whole house let out a sigh of disappointment.  The shingles and gutters even heaved a bit.  I was forced to wait a few days until the cinnamon stars aligned.  At which time, I (somewhat nervously) gave it a go.

My husband entered the kitchen a few times during the process and expertly offered his input.  When he discovered that I was not using his mom’s recipe, he nearly fainted.  He told me to call her.  Call the Queen?Are you crazy?  My very sensible woman logic reasoned that if I did not use her recipe, there would be that much less to compare.  Yes, I know.  Silly.  I ordered him out of my kitchen and pressed on with Molly.

I am proud to say that The Attempt was successful.  I know this because I received compliments from the Cinnamon Roll Expert.  I actually received multiple compliments throughout the annihilation of the rolls.

If you have a few hours on a Saturday morning, you may want to give it a go.  Just keep in mind the rise times.  You could always make them up the night before and put them in the refrigerator (they will still rise), then bake in the morning.  I found that we liked ours better with a bake time of 18 minutes.  It may depend on your oven, the pan (metal, glass), the stars, the altitude, your luck, and personal preference.

I figure I can try for princess or duchess at the very least, keeping current royalty intact.

Praise and adoration await you.  Did I mention the cream cheese glaze?  Mmmmm…

Here is Molly’s recipe:  click here for printable version

Ingredients

DOUGH

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 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, room temperature

GLAZE

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

Preparation

CRUST

  • Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.
  • Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

FILLING

  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
  • Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
  • Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

GLAZE

  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bribe to Mother Nature

I attempted to lure Spring into our house today through pastel colored frosting.  Lame, you say?  Maybe.  But these cookies are just too cute not to make. I found them in Parents magazine and have to confess that anything with seven ingredients or less tends to catch my eye.  Four ingredients for the actual cookie.  Four!

I used my cookie dough scoop on the first two dozen, not rolling into balls, and they turned out fine.  My last batch I did roll into balls and would recommend for uniformity.  It just depends how fussy you’d like to be.  I also did not have buttermilk and just used plain whole milk. However, you could use a buttermilk substitute if you feel inclined.  I baked the cookies for 8 minutes because I like mine on the chewy side. I used whipped frosting and would not recommend it. The plain old regular kind is best. The whipped was just too wet and and did not provide a strong sandwich middle.

The cookie by itself is delightful. If you don’t feel like doing the whole frosting bit or have tiny wee ones and don’t care for the mess, the cookie alone is a quick and easy treat. These are great for Easter or for a baby shower, with all pink or all blue frosting if the baby’s gender is known. To my fellow yellow-cake-with-chocolate- frosting lovers, you could substitute chocolate frosting for the vanilla and even omit the sprinkles.

We just might put a few of these cookies out on the deck as a bribe to Mother Nature…

Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Colored sprinkles
  • 1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting (use plain, not whipped version!)
  • Yellow, red, blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside

Combine the cake mix, egg, oil and buttermilk in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Shape 1-inch mounds of batter into balls and flatten slightly.  Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Top with sprinkles.

Bake until cookies are golden and firm, 8-10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Divide the frosting among three bowls.  Use a few drops of food coloring to tint frosting the desired shades of pink, blue, and yellow.  Sandwich the cookies together with frosting.  Makes about 30 cookies or 15 cookie sandwiches.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Okay…I think maybe this could just be called Blueberry Human Bait.  The delectable smell that wafted from my oven would beckon anyone with blood running through their veins.  I found this recipe about a week ago on Smitten Kitchen and have softened the two sticks of unsalted butter approximately five different times in the course of the last seven days.  Sadly, the wee ones and realities of life prevented the Boy Bait from being made.  Well, today the stars have aligned and I am happy to report the Bait has been baked and is happily resting in our bellies.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Serves 12, generously

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

My oven can be temperamental so I checked my cake at 35 minutes and it appeared very done.  I inserted toothpick in a few places and it came out clean.  I would suggest you check yours at around 35 minutes too just in case your oven acts like mine does!  After cooling for 20 minutes, I inserted a mini-spatula between the edges of cake and pan to ensure easy release.  I took my cooling rack and placed it on top of the cake pan, inverted it, then gently placed my large platter on top and inverted it again.  Thus, the cake was right side up on my platter and ready to serve.  You could really just leave the cake in the pan if you wanted to.  It may depend on your presentation preference and who you will be presenting to.  I used frozen blueberries and they worked fabulously.  Let the baiting begin!