Cinnamon rolls are among my favorite pastries to bake. I enjoy baking a batch of 25 and giving friends a small pan of four or six rolls. Watching them smile warms my heart. And those who receive the gift are blessed with good pastry.
Every couple months, since attending the baking workshop in Canby, Oregon last March, I've baked a large batch of bread at home. After packaging the bread into smaller portions, I usually give it to the folks at church on Sunday morning. Lately, my focus has been on foccacia, French bread and challah (Jewish egg bread).
These baking ventures serve two purposes. It keeps my skills fresh. Baking bread and pasties at work has not been a priority, especially after my hours were reduced in November. I no longer have the time at work to do any extensive baking.
Baking large quantities of bread or pastries on Saturday serve as a way to bring a bit of culinary happiness to my friends and brethren. As I said, it fills my heart, a long with their hearts. And they receive a freshly bake product that's superior to mass produced baked goods.
I started a batch of sweet dough early Saturday morning. Since we were meeting Debbie's parents later that afternoon, I figured the clock would be kind to the baking process. Unfortunately, soon after setting the dough to ferment on the bench, I realized that I had miscalculated the quantity of yeast.
Instead of fermenting the dough for one to two hours, I left it on the counter for four hours before placing it in the refrigerator. Nothing happened. At first I attributed my failure to rise to the cold house, which hovered around 65 degrees most of the day. By Monday evening, I realized that I needed to scrap this batch and make a fresh start on New Years Day.
I find a group of mixed children and adults (as in a camp setting) that will eat approximately 110 rolls (or more) for each 100 persons. This holds true when the cinnamon rolls are served with an accompanying menu of sausage, fruit, milk and juice. Because your experience my differ from mine, it's always best to bake too many cinnamon rolls. I guarantee no leftovers will see the setting of the sun!
CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING
This recipe comfortably fits in the 4-1/2-quart to 5-quart bowl of a household stand mixer (Kitchen Aid or similar brand). Multiply for a larger batch; however, you will need a mixer with a larger bowl. After punching, weigh into 4-pound 15-ounce pieces and proceed with make-up.
1 pound milk, scalded and cooled (Baker's percent: 40%)
8 ounces sugar (20%)
1/2 ounce salt (1.25%)
6 ounces whole eggs (15%)
2 pounds bread flour (80%)
8 ounces cake flour (20%)
1 ounce instant yeast (SAF yeast) (2.6%)
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened (20%)
Cinnamon and sugar filling:
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
5 ounces brown sugar
1/3 ounce cinnamon
Cream cheese icing:
5 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons milk
10 ounces powdered sugar
Place cooled milk, sugar, salt and eggs in mixer bowl. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed just until blended. Add flours and yeast. Mix at low speed 1 minute or until all flour mixture is incorporated into liquid. Add butter, margarine or shortening. Mix at low speed 1 minute. Continue mixing at medium speed 4 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and set in warm place (80 degrees) about 1-1/2 hours or until double in bulk. Punch dough and shape dough into a rectangular piece. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes.
Roll dough into a rectangular sheet, about 18 inches wide, 36 inches long and 1/4 inches thick. Brush 1/2 cup butter over each sheet of dough, except bottom inch. Set remainder aside. Prepare filing by combining cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups cinnamon-sugar mixture over each sheet of dough.
Roll each piece tightly to make a long slender roll. Seal edges by pressing firmly. Elongate roll to 35 inches by rolling back and forth on work table. Brush 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine on each roll. Slice each roll into 25 to 30 pieces about 1- to 1-1/2 inches wide, using dough cutter. Place cut side down on lightly greased sheet pan.
Proof at 90 to 100 degrees until double in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Prepare icing by whipping cream cheese in mixer bowl until smooth. Add milk and continue whipping until combined. Sift in powdered sugar, and whip until smooth. Spread icing on rolls as desired.
Variation: Sprinkle 8 ounces chopped toasted pecans or 3 ounces plumped raisins over the cinnamon sugar filling during make-up.
For 42 years I've had two culinary careers -- one that paid the bills and the other imagined. Growing up in Fresno in the 1960s, I attended Camp San Joaquin in Sequoia National Forest. To me the cook and his assistant had the best job. Where else could I pursuit my passion for cooking and my love of the mountains at the same time, I reasoned? With retirement here, ambition may soon turn to gold, Lord willing.