Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Homemade Cinnamon Buns


I've been promoted today! ... to "the next Betty Crocker".  Thanks to my co-workers after they took their first bite out of these delicious cinnamon buns.  If only they knew my dream is to be Ina Garten.  I work with men who have no idea who Ina is- poor guys.  So I'll take the title of Betty Crocker happily! 

Before I begin to tell you about these cinnamon buns, you have to be warned- these are not low fat!  Regardless, a warm cinnamon bun is something most people can't deny.  So this is my attempt to provide a homemade option for this sinful craving.  So if you're going to throw your "diet towel" in, you might as well do it with a homemade recipe that doesn't have the preservatives and additives a tube of Pillsbury Dough Cinnamon Roll would have. 

This recipe, while it's time consuming is extremely easy.  If you follow this recipe step by step, reading all of my tips in between, you'll make flawless cinnamon buns that you, your family, and friends are sure to obsess over.  The best part of this recipe is it doesn't require kneading so it's great for beginners who aren't familiar with the craft of dough making! 

These are perfect to make on an uneventful Saturday when you're expecting a kids sleepover that night and want something homemade to offer them in the morning.  Or your in-laws are visiting and you want to show them how experienced you've become in the kitchen! These homemade cinnamon buns are sure to win you a whole lot of fans no matter what the occasion!

 Recipe Tips:

  • I recommend freezing half of the dough.  I haven't tried baking with frozen dough, but after googling it I learned it's ok to freeze dough after the first rise.
  • DO buy disposable aluminum cake pans in bulk so you can keep your buns in the pans after they've baked.
  • You could try using an electric mixer with the dough hook instead of manually stirring (I didn't, but would like to see if that would work)


Start by combining the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a large pot and stir until combined:


Turn your stove top to medium/high heat and "scald" the mixture.  Scalding means heating your mixture to just before boiling point.  I turned off my stove top when it reached a light simmer, just before a rolling boil.  Turn off the heat, leaving your pot on the stove top and allow to cool for 1 hour until your mixture is luke warm to warm.  Your liquids will appear separated with the oil sitting on top:


Once your mixture has cooled, add the active dry yeast: 


Do not stir the mixture, allow to sit for 2 minutes so the yeast becomes moistened:


Add 8 cups of flour:


Stir with a wooden spoon:


Until all of your ingredients are combined:


Cover and allow to sit for at least an hour:


Your dough will rise to the top like this when it's ready:


Then add another cup of flour:


A heaping or overflowing teaspoon of baking powder:


A scant or less than full teaspoon of baking soda:


And a heaping tablespoon of salt:


Mix the ingredients:


Until combined:


Unless you have a football team to feed, I recommend freezing half of the dough or else you'll end up with about 80 cinnamon buns to make.  Freeze your dough by lightly flouring some plastic wrap, placing the ball of dough in the center, and dusting the top with a sprinkle of flour:


Wrap with a lot of plastic wrap and throw it in the freezer for a Sunday morning you feel like having cinnamon rolls:


Now on to rolling your cinnamon buns!  

Prepare a large work station by spreading a good amount of flour down:


Flour a rolling pin as well and put your ball of dough in the center of your floured surface.  Separate your remaining dough in two sections.  With your hands, spread the first ball of dough into a general rectangular shape:


Roll your dough out into a long rectangular shape with a thickness of about 1/4 inch:


Meanwhile, melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter and spread along the entire surface... it's a lot of butter, but they need it!  Don't allow puddles to sit in the dough though- I had to take a paper towel and soak up a couple of spots, but for the most part use the entire 1/2 cup of melted butter:


Spread 1/2 cup of sugar along the entire surface:


Even out the sugar by spreading with the back side of a spoon:


Sprinkle the entire surface generously with cinnamon:


Begin rolling your dough at the opposite end, rolling towards you: 


Keeping your roll tight:


When you reach the end, roll up slightly so the seem (the point where the roll ends) is exposed.  Pinch the dough together to close the seem:


Meanwhile, prepare your baking pans by pouring 1 tablespoon of melted butter in each pan:


Brush along the entire surface and sides of the pan:


Lightly spread the surface of your roll with flour so it is easier to handle when cutting:


With a serrated knife, cut about 1- 1/2 inch thick rolls (I cut them on the smaller side here, but it is best to cut larger for fluffier rolls).  Cut gently with quick back and forth motions to get a clean cut:


Place 8 buns in 7 inch cake pans, pie pans, or disposable aluminum pans. Distribute 7 along the perimeter and 1 in the center, making sure they are evenly spread apart without touching each other:


Let them sit for 30 minutes before baking so they can rise again.  Meanwhile, repeat these previous steps with the remaining ball of dough:


Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until light golden brown:


Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, maple syrup, milk, butter, and fresh brewed coffee until well combined:


Spread the glaze over each cinnamon bun:


And enjoy these AMAZING buns!!


Homemade Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
(Printable Recipe)



Ingredients:
1 quart whole milk (I used 1% and it was fine)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast (which can be found in the dairy section at your local grocery store next to the butter- make sure to keep in your refrigerator)
8 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 additional cup after the 1st rise)
1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
1 tablespoon (heaping) salt

Rolled ingredients:
1/2 cup melted butter for each ball of dough
1/2 cup sugar for each ball of dough
cinnamon for sprinkling

Frosting:
2 1/2-3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh brewed coffee
dash of salt

Directions:

Start by mixing the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a large pot and stir until combined. Turn your stove top to medium/high heat and "scald" the mixture. Scalding means heating your mixture to just before boiling point. I turned off my stove top when it reached a light simmer, just before a rolling boil. Once the heat is off, leave your pot on the stove top and allow to cool for 1 hour until your mixture is luke warm to warm. Your liquids will appear separated with the oil sitting on top. but that's normal . Once your mixture has cooled, add the active dry yeast. Do not stir the mixture, allow to sit for 2 minutes so the yeast moistens. Then add 8 cups of flour to the liquid mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all of your ingredients are combined. Cover the pot with a lid and allow it to sit for at least an hour so your dough can rise.

Once your dough has risen, add 1 cup of flour, a heaping or overflowing teaspoon of baking powder, a scant or less than full teaspoon of baking soda, and a heaping tablespoon of salt. Mix the ingredients until combined. I recommend freezing half of the dough or else you'll end up with about 80 cinnamon buns to make. Freeze your dough by lightly flouring some plastic wrap, placing half your ball of dough in the center, and dusting the top with a sprinkle of flour. Wrap with a lot of plastic wrap and throw it in the freezer for a Sunday morning you feel like having cinnamon rolls.


Now it's time to prepare your buns! Spread a good amount of flour down on a large work station. Flour a rolling pin as well and put your ball of dough in the center of your floured surface. Divide the remaining dough in half.  With your hands, spread the first section of dough into a general rectangular shape. Roll your dough out into a long rectangular shape with a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Meanwhile, melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter and spread along the entire surface. It's a lot of butter, but it adds so much flavor!  Don't allow puddles to sit in the dough though- I had to take a paper towel and soak up a couple of spots, but for the most part use the entire 1/2 cup of melted butter. Then spread 1/2 cup of sugar along the entire surface. Even out the sugar by spreading with the back side of a spoon. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.  Repeat this step and the instructions below with the remaining dough.


To begin rolling your dough, start at the opposite end, rolling towards you keeping your roll tight. When you reach the end, roll up slightly so the seem (the point where the roll ends) is exposed. Pinch the dough together to close the seem.  Meanwhile, prepare your baking pans by pouring 1 tablespoon of melted butter in each pan.  Brush along the entire surface and sides of the pan.  Lightly spread the surface of your roll with flour so it is easier to handle when cutting.  With a serrated knife, cut about 1- 1 1/2 inch thick rolls.  Cut gently with quick back and forth motions to get a clean cut.  Place 8 buns in 7 inch cake pans, pie pans, or disposable aluminum pans. I recommend buying a bulk package of aluminum pans so you can bake all of your buns in their own pan.  Distribute 7 buns along the perimeter and 1 in the center, making sure they are evenly spread apart without touching each other.  Let them sit for 30 minutes before baking so they can rise slightly.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, maple syrup, milk, butter, and fresh brewed coffee in a small bowl and mixing until well combined.  Spread the glaze over each cinnamon bun and enjoy!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Linguini Tossed in a Vodka Blush Sauce with Sundried Tomatoes and Asparagus



I've never actually considered making a vodka sauce.  It's my favorite dish that I'm constantly ordering at restaurants, but always thought would be complex to make and would require a hefty grocery bill with all of the unusual ingredients I'd need.  My assumptions couldn't have been further from the truth.  A) this is the easiest dish to make, I'm still in shock and B) the only unusual ingredient was the vodka that I bought on sale for $10 and was assured by the salesman it would be great for cooking.  It doesn't get any better than that! 

I was inspired to finally try this favorite dish of mine because I recently found it on a new favorite blog, The Pioneer Woman.  Her pictures and description of this recipe were incredible.  It was the little push I needed to get over my fears!  Not to mention, my friend Emily was coming over for dinner and I promised her something tasty.  Come to find out, her list of allergies is pretty long and she's a vegetarian.  So I knew I had to get creative!  

The few ingredients this recipe requires was perfect for her allergies and is made without meat, while managing to still be a satisfying and filling meal.  The sauce is creamy and delicious and the choice of linguini pasta made for a perfect main course!  The addition of sundried tomatoes and asparagus added an extra pop of color, nutrients, and a well balance in flavor and texture we thoroughly enjoyed.

This recipe is a must try!  I hope you love it as much as we did!

Recipe Tips:
  • DON'T simmer this recipe for hours like you do other homemade tomato sauce recipes.  
  • DO use a little extra pasta water if the consistency is too thick when tossed with pasta.

Wash the asparagus:


Break your asparagus by finding the natural breaking point.  Do this by finding the position on your asparagus that transitions from firm to loose, which will be about 1/4 the length of the asparagus from the bottom:



Break all of them and prepare a pot of boiling water:


Put your asparagus into the pot and cook for 3 minutes:

Immediately drop into a bowl of ice water.  This method shocks the asparagus and stops it from continuing to cook.  You want your asparagus to have a crunch to it:

 

Cut your asparagus into 2 inch pieces:



Slice your sundried tomatoes lengthwise:


In a saute pan over medium heat, melt your butter with the olive oil.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes:


Add 1 cup of vodka and cook at a low boil for 5 minutes to cook the alcohol out of the vodka:


Add the tomato puree and stir until combined:


Then add the cream and stir until blended.  Lower the temperature to medium/low and allow to cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  With 5 minutes remaining, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package:


Use a hand blender to puree the onions:


into a smooth consistency:



Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes:


Toss with linguini:


Add your asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese (optional):


Toss, sprinkle with parsley, and serve:


...and enjoy every mouth watering bite!


Linguini ala Vodka Tossed with Sundried Tomatoes and Asparagus
Adapted From The Pioneer Woman
(Printable Page)

Ingredients
1 pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced



1 pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vodka
1 14 oz. can of tomato puree
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, add more if desired
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced asparagus (2 inch pieces)
parsley for garnish

Directions
Begin by preparing your asparagus.  First wash your asparagus and break the ends off.  The trick to breaking your asparagus is finding the natural breaking point.  Do this by feeling for the position on your asparagus that transitions from firm to loose.  It will be about 1/4 the length of the asparagus from the bottom.  Repeat this step to all of your asparagus.  Meanwhile, prepare a pot of boiling water.  Put your asparagus into the pot and cook for 3 minutes.  Then immediately spoon your asparagus out of the boiling pot and drop them into a bowl of ice water.  This method shocks the asparagus and stops it from continuing to cook.  You want your asparagus to have a nice crunch to it.  Finish by cutting your asparagus into 2 inch pieces and set aside.  Prepare your sundried tomatoes by Slicing lengthwise about 1/4 inch thickness and set aside.

To prepare your sauce, melt the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes.  Then add 1 cup of vodka and cook at a low boil for 5 minutes to cook the alcohol out of the vodka.  Add the tomato puree and stir until combined.  Then add the cream and stir until blended.  Lower the temperature to medium/low and allow to cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly (be careful not to overheat).  With 5 minutes remaining, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.  Meanwhile, continue to work on your sauce by using a hand blender to puree the onions into a smooth consistency.  Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes at medium/low temperature.

Finish by adding your linguini to the sauce, reserving 1 cup of pasta water in case sauce is too thick. Toss your pasta into the sauce until coated.  Then add your chopped asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese (optional).  Toss until combined and serve with a garnish of sprinkled parsley.
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