An Unusual Springtime
After about five months of cold, rainy weather we have finally had a week of sunshine and friendly temperatures. This afternoon it was 19 °C (66 °F) there were a few puffy clouds and no wind. We sat outside much of the day, Karin trimmed some box hedges and Halgrim dug in a number of his “construction sites.” Nonetheless, Karin finds time to create more artistic designs for her pies and Bruce has been preparing the lawn mowers, brush cutters, string trimmers and chainsaws for the gardening season.
Even before the bad weather hit we were rather silent here on Our Delicious Food. A combination of getting Karin’s book “Elegant Pie” to press and website (www.elegant-pie.com) on-line, subduing Halgrim, a healthy, strong-as-an-ox German Shepherd puppy and some health issues we were a bit overwhelmed. Just as life began to feel a bit less challenging Covid-19 came on the scene.
For us, being quarantined at home is not a hardship and as far as we know we are healthy. We do some shopping every other week and are otherwise self-sufficient. Our home is beautiful and we love being here. We certainly miss being with out friends and hosting dinners, but that is hopefully just temporary. We think of those who are not so fortunate, living in small apartments with children, or directly affected by the virus. Like everyone else, we hope that this terrifying situation can somehow be remedied as soon as possible.
Being at home during the inclement weather of the last month gave us some time to experiment with cooking and baking. Of course, Karin continues to make artistically decorated pies, but she also wanted to “return to her roots” with some yeast dough, using her grandmother’s recipe. It really is a rather standard yeast dough recipe, but Karin always remembered it as being quite special, especially when still slightly warm out of the oven. Whether for bread rolls, for pizza or sticky buns, it just cannot be beaten.
Since our kitchen is not reliably warm the year around Bruce built a proofing box for the dough to rise in. His instructions for making one on YouTube. You can also let the dough rise in any warm spot, near a heater or in the oven with the door open and at the lowest setting.
If she was going to make yeast pastry Karin decided it should be sweet, sticky and delicious.
For the dough
- 750 g (6 cups) pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 125 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 125 g (2/3 cup) sugar
- 300 ml (1-1/4 cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cube fresh yeast (50 g) or 2 packets of dry yeast (14 g)
For the filling
- 225 g (2 sticks) butter (softened, but not melted)
- 2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
- 300 g (1-1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
For the glaze
- 1 cup (200 g) confectioner’s sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice, milk or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste (optional)
To make the yeast sponge place the flour in a large bowl and make a depression in the middle. Warm half of the milk to hand warm and pour it into the depression, stirring in the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Butter (or spray with baking spray) the bottom and sides of a 28 cm spring form.
When the 30 minutes have passed add the rest of the ingredients for the dough and knead to form a smooth mass. Cover again and put in a warm place for 1 hour.
In the meantime prepare the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place the soft butter in a medium sized bowl, add a small amount of the sugar mixture and mash together with a fork. Keep adding sugar small amounts of sugar mixture and mixing until the full amount is incorporated. Cover and place aside until needed, but do not refrigerate.
After the dough has risen 1 hour punch it down and place on a lightly floured work top. Roll out to a rectangle approximately 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick and approximately 30 cm wide x 40 cm (12 x 15 inches) long. Using a long palette knife spread the filling on the rolled out dough, leaving an edge free by about 1 cm (1/2 inch).
Beginning with the side closest to you begin rolling the dough to a long roll. Cut the roll into sections roughly 4.5 cm (1 inch) thick and place the section in the prepared spring pan. Cover the pan with a tea towel and put in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Allow 10 minutes to cool before glazing.
For the glaze place the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and slowly add the liquid stirring with a fork until the desired consistency is obtained. The mixture should be liquid-like, but not runny. Add the vanilla, if using (Note: Vanilla extract or paste is dark brown in colour and will make the glaze somewhat off-colour. I have heard that there is clear vanilla extract, but have never seen it. If the off-colour bothers you just leave out the vanilla altogether).
Cinnamon rolls are best when they are still slightly warm from the oven and the glaze is sticky and oozy. Beware, however. It is difficult to stop eating these, they are so delicious. Guten Appetit!