Monday, January 18, 2010

Joy to the World - She baked Cinnamon Rolls!

I'm in love. True story! Can I tell you her name? Yes, her! It's Joy. Joy has an amazing blog that makes me drool. Seriously. Puddles. Check her out at and I promise you will not be disappointed. I stumbled across Joy by accident and let me just say that I have discovered not all accidents are bad! So I spent many hours going through Joy's blog. She's amusing, cute and boy does she know how to cook!

As I was going through I hit her posting "Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls". HUH? Cream Cheese? Cinnamon Rolls? I was hooked. It should be against the law to combine these two things together! I mean, how much more fattening can a Cinnamon Roll get?! Well she figured it out.

I've always wanted to try Cinnamon Rolls but the whole idea of working with yeast and rising process and all of that was not something I wanted to tackle. Until I met Joy. Sigh... She makes everything seem so easy and she adds lots of pictures for reassurance!

Without further ado.... let me present my first attempt at Cinnamon Buns!

The Dough

1 - 1/4oz package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp, plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

For the Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp maple syrup
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk

Making the Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees F. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, around 10 minutes.

Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat with a wire whisk until well combined. Put the bowl onto the mixer, and use the dough hook attachment. (This was the first time I got to use mine!) Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.

Add the butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes. The dough will the wet and sticky. Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. The dough still might be a little sticky but don't worry! Set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for approximately 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in the maple syrup and set aside. The smells as you combine these ingredients are heavenly. I promise!

When the dough has doubled in size, dump if from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface. Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. I think I added about 3 Tablespoons of flour. Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes. Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with a knife until it’s smooth and spreadable.

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square. Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square.

Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. You will find that some cream cheese sneaks through. Be as gently as possible with the dough, but continue to work it until you reach the size you need. I had a little bit of a hard time with this but I believe it is due to my lack of experience with dough. Well... at least that is the story I'm going with!

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. You’re going to roll from the short sides of the dough. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. The rest of the butter will be used after the rolls are baked.

Pour all of the filling onto the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough  seam side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges. (I saved the edges and I sprinkled a little of the filling that fell out as I cut the pieces. Still yummy!)

Cut the dough into 8 equal slices. Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a butter 9 x 13-inch metal baking dish. Joy said to use a light colored baking dish but I only had the dark one. I didn't see a problem with it so I'm not sure about that one.

Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. You can also refrigerate rolls overnight. When I first read this I was like "How in the heck are they going to rise in the cold refrigerator?" Well, I was tired and decided to throw caution to the wind and guess what! Nice and plump. It's baking magic folks! It is to me so stop snickering!

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the rolls. If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes before baking.

While the rolls are baking, mix the confectioner's sugar and the buttermilk together with a whisk until nice and smooth!

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Check this out!! I could have eaten them just like this! Nooooo... not really. What are Cinnamon Rolls without the glaze?? Un-American I tell ya!

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack. Brush with that remaining butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Joy said to "Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle over the rolls" and I just poured all of that glazy goodness all over! Serve immediately! I mean now, not later! And seriously, if you can walk away without eating them right away, you did something wrong!

Oh no... look closer. They will hypnotize you!

Don't you feel like you should run to the kitchen now and make these?

So Joy... thank you for bringing me out of my baking shell and making me brave! I found a new breakfast favorite thanks to you and I can tell you... my kids love you too!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What did YOU have for breakfast?

It's snowing out. I think we have close to 2 feet at this point and it isn't slowing down! The mess started yesterday afternoon and I have to tell you... I'm sick of it. I know, I know... I live in Vermont and I shouldn't be shocked but can I get a breather here??? With the beginning of a new year I decided like many people that I need to hop back on the fitness and eating healthy wagon. Well... this WAS supposed to start yesterday but you know with this snow I needed one more thing before I started my healthy kick: Stuffed French Toast!

I'm not a huge fan of french toast but this is stuff is to die for! I tried it when I went to Ihop a year or so ago and I fell in love and I set out to find a recipe online that would satisfy my Ihop craving. Oh and I should mention that Vermont didn't have an Ihop until 3 months ago. It's a slow state and I love the state for it but at times like the Ihop craving, it doesn't make me very happy.

Well I finally came across a recipe called IHOP Stuffed French Toast and tried it with some tweaking. Can I just tell you... no one in my family will now touch the Ihop version after having mine! In your face Ihop!

So please enjoy the recipe and I look forward to hearing what you think!

Heather's Stuffed French Toast

1 loaf of French or Italian bread
5 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste

1- 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the cream cheese until nice and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and put it into a decorator's bag or if you don't have one, use a ziploc bag and cut the corner off.

Mix the eggs, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla together and flavor it with cinnamon if you wish.

Take your bread and cut your slices a little thick and then cut those pieces in half but not all of the way. You want to make it so it is like a hot dog bun. After the slices are all prepared, take your piping bag and fill all of the pockets.

Dip your filled bread into the egg mixture and place in your pan to cook. I think we all know how to cook french toast so I won't get into it but will show you a nice picture instead.

These are best when eaten right away with the warmth of the bread making your filling oozing! We always use a pie filling to top it or perhaps just syrup. Whatever floats your boat! We've even stuffed sausage in with the filling. You can't loose!

Doesn't that look amazing??? If it doesn't... check out the next one!

Enjoy but don't blame the added weight on me!