Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dough a Deer

I’ve learned something about myself.  I think I have a love affair, bordering on obsession with dough.  Pillowy, yeasty, melt in your mouth dough.  From the texture to the scent, I’m hooked.  I’m definitely obsessed with beignet dough, we’ve already discussed that.  And there’s no question about how much I love the pizza dough recipe Elizabeth gave me.  I think doughnuts are pretty much the greatest thing on earth and I want to hug whoever invented them for an absurdly long period of time.  And cinnamon roll dough.  Ah cinnamon roll dough, you are my newest crush.  We should have been acquainted a long time ago.  I’ve kept two of your recipes in my recipe bible (giant binder) for at least a year, lusting after you but fearing you would be quite a lengthy endeavor, which you were.  You were worth it because you gave me these…

Oh cinnamon rolls.  You are not joking around.  You are luscious, dizzying swirls of cinnamon brown sugar laced sweet yeast dough, with butter and cream cheese folded over and over again throughout, yielding an aroma that would interrupt lines of impatient Cinnabon customers, summoning them to a higher calling .  You are probably worthy of being a Paula Deen recipe and inducing a blood sugar spike and contributing to probably over half my caloric intake for the day.  But that’s okay because you’re special so I won’t revisit you for at least 6 months.  And if I do, I certainly am not going to blog about it!  (Shhhhh….)  P.S.  It’s almost a week later and I’m still thinking about you and our tryst…


Elizabeth and spent the better part of Saturday in my kitchen drinking mimosas and making these little beauties and watching Days of Wine and Roses in between.  We chose this Joy the Baker recipe (adapted from Saveur) and no I would not change a damn thing.  It’s perfect.  Be advised it is a lengthy affair, so if you’re craving them for a weekend breakfast, you’ll have to make them the night before.  Don’t pucker your bottom lip about it because they reheat just beautifully in the oven and are good as new for the next few days (if they even make it that long).  Seriously, they probably won’t.  We actually made several smaller rolls instead of 8 large ones so we could feel better about ourselves.  *Disclaimer:  eating 2 smaller rolls probably cancels out the feeling better about yourself and likely equates to 1 large roll…not that I know this from experience.*  Anyway, make these with someone fun and eat them with someone you love.  …Then run for 10 miles.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls  adapted by Joy the Baker from Saveur Magazine

For the Dough:

1 – 1/4oz package active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 Tablespoons (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 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Icing:

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, about 10 minutes.

Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk.  Beat with a wire whisk until well combined.  Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment.  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.  Don’t worry, the dough still might be a little sticky.  It’s ok.  Just 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 1 1/2 to 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.  Set aside.

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 make 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.

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.  We’ll use the rest of the butter 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 cylinder seam side down on a cutting board.  Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges.

Cut cylinder into 8 equal slices.  Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a butter 9 x 13-inch (light colored) metal baking dish.  Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours.  You may also refrigerate rolls overnight.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Uncover the rolls.  If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the icing:  While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack.  Brush with remaining butter.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle over the rolls.  Serve immediately.

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Savory to my Sweet

I am a girl who has shamefully become addicted to perusing Dailymail.Uk in the mornings.  A girl who dreams up cakes she’d like to make…banana pudding cake (2 of my favorite things, why shouldn’t they be fused together in cake form?) and also a vanilla buttermilk layer cake with lemon curd between the layers, draped with lavender vanilla buttercream and decorated with a fresh sprig of lavender on top.  A girl with constant wanderlust, who is currently getting very excited in anticipation of an upcoming trip to NYC, getting to see Sleep No More and a visit to Momofuku + Momofuku Milk Bar.  One who is puzzled because she only just recently discovered she loves Neko Case.  I am also a girl who both made and ate beignets for the very first time and has already made them two more times all in the short span of 2 weeks.

My friends Brian and Monica invited myself and my dear friend Liz and our friend Randy over to dinner a couple weeks ago.  Brian and Liz are very talented bread bakers.  Brian has traveled all over the world, lived in France and was a journalist for a long time.  He has exciting stories and an affinity for good bourbon.  Liz has wildly big wavy hair, a loud infectious laugh and has impeccable taste in eyewear, with an enviable collection that makes me resent my perfect eyesight.  Liz is also fond of Hendricks gin, which makes me all the more fond of Liz.  We also share a mutual affection for doughnuts.  She’s been an excellent foodie partner in crime these past few months, giving me the best pizza dough recipe, teaching me to make challah and rustic hearth bread and now I am recruiting her to drive all over the Triangle with me as part of a mission for her to try all of my favorite restaurants before she moves out west.  We’ve decided she’s the savory to my sweet.

So when Brian informed us we were invited to dinner and that he would be making jambalaya, Liz and I naturally decided we needed to make a dessert.  We began brainstorming, trying to conjure up a dessert that would pair well with jambalaya and at first all I could think of was a spicy chocolate cream pie.  Then it hit me.  BEIGNETS!.  Duh.  Jambalaya and beignets are quintessential New Orleans cuisine.  Never having made beignets before, I happily welcomed the challenge but we did face one hurdle:  how to keep them fresh and hot and at their finest when we weren’t hosting?  We decided we would just have to fry them at Brian and Monica’s.  They conveniently own a deep fryer, so it was settled.

Liz and I made the dough together, following this recipe and forgoing using shortening or letting the dough refrigerate over night.  It was a breeze to make, but be warned, it makes a LOT and you just might have to eat them all.  Jay and I made bourbon ice cream because we thought that would be the perfect compliment to the beignets (which honestly held their own just fine without it, but can you honestly deny bourbon ice cream?)

Brian blew us away with his jambalaya and the special Virginia ham he used for it.  Then came out the Woodford Reserve and the dessert.  Those little warm yeasty pillows blanketed in powdered sugar were a huge hit and Brian and Monica even went so far as to award us with the highest of compliments, deeming our beignets the best they’ve ever had; ‘better than Cafe Du Monde’s.’  Friends, when someone tells you your beignets are better than Cafe Du Monde’s, your heart does cartwheels and you hold all other beignets to that standard.

Jay and I went out to dinner the other night and ordered “cream-filled beignets” for dessert.  Much to my surprise and dismay, the dessert presented to us was not beignets, but rather choux pastry medallions (not even fried, stop there!)  I shook my head to myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I love and welcome creative diversions and deconstructed interpretations but I felt we were enticed under false pretenses and felt the dire need to educate this person who believed these to be beignets.  So I made beignets again the next night for friends watching the Superbowl and I felt better.



I am a girl who for better or worse is in love with beignets.  And now I want to make them for the whole world because I want the whole world to also be in love with beignets.


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