Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls

Um, sorry you can scarcely see them under all that delicious frosting!!!

So I've made lots and lots and lots of cinnamon rolls in my day. They were all vaguely terrible. Dry-ish and a little flavorless and they'd totally fall apart because of the spiral-roll shape (not in a good way). So when my friend Megan, one morning after we'd beaten ourselves to pieces with a Jillian Michaels workout, mentioned that her house happened to be full of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and would we like to come try one? I was like, "Um... is the Pope Catholic?" We HAD just worked out, after all. We'd earned those cinnamon rolls. Wow. Best. Cinnamon. Rolls. I-have-ever-tasted.

Luckily, she was kind enough to send me the recipe.

This one is from Beauty and Bedlam, but I halved it and adjusted some of the ingredients so they would be slightly less than nearly 600 calories per roll! (Yes, I did the calculations on that because I am a masochist.) This made 9 GIGANTIC cinnamon rolls, which were definitely more than enough for my family of 5... and we ate them all day long. Really I couldn't even finish half in one sitting.


  • (1) .25 oz. pks. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter 
  • 1/2 cup 110 degree water (approximately)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (must be warm)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg – slightly beaten
  • 3 1/4-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter 
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups chopped walnuts, pecans or raisins – (optional)
  • 4 oz. neufchatel or fat-free cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • About 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (I just realized I accidentally doubled both extracts, but it was yummy! Reduce these amounts if you're scared.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


  1. For bread machine: Add water, milk, melted butter, sugar, salt, egg, flour, and yeast to bread machine bowl, in that order. Set on "dough" setting. (I did this the night before so I could just wake up and roll them out in the morning.) Then jump to Step 6.
  2. Without bread machine: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together milk, remaining sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, salt, and egg; add yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour to mixture; beat until smooth; stir in enough flour to form a slightly stiff dough.
  4. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 8 minutes.
  5. Place dough into a large greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Punch down dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Roll dough out onto a floured surface into a 15″ X 10″ rectangle.
  8. Brush 3 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over dough; sprinkle nuts evenly over dough, if desired.
  9. Tightly roll up dough, starting from the shorter (10") side. Pinch edges together to seal. Cut the roll into 9 slices using dental floss or thread.
  10. Grease a 9″ X 9″ X 2″ baking pan. (I will say I had to squeeze them into a pan this size, and it made for gargantuan towering rolls that were a bit doughy in the middle - because they were too big to cook through evenly. I thought they were good, but you might also experiment with different pan sizes and shapes - or different roll sizes!)
  11. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the prepared pan; cover pan and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.
  12. Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. For frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Add milk, a little at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency. Spread frosting on warm rolls and eat until you are stuffed.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) (plus additional rise time)
Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 9 huge rolls

Soft Pretzels

Something about Fall made me want to eat pretzels. Or we can blame the pregnancy. Whatever! We used to get these AMAZING pretzels from a Dutch market in Maryland, and I've never found anything quite like them. But they make the pretzels right there in front of you... so how hard can it be, right? So I set out to try, and I have to say they were pretty delicious! But just a word of warning - they really have to be eaten the same day. (We tried to keep a few, but no.)

Recipe adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Alton Brown

1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Boiling water
About 1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg white + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together (for egg wash)
Coarse salt, for sprinkling
Melted butter (3-4 tablespoons)

1. Combine the water and sugar in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.
2. Add the flour, salt, and butter. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with the vegetable oil; set aside. [**This is important! I was too lazy to get out the parchment paper and it was beastly to get the pretzels off the pan! And then the chemical reaction from the baking soda left marks on the pan. Just so you know.]
5. Pour boiling water into a 9x9 glass pan (or whatever you have - a shallow dish) until it is about 2/3 full. Add baking soda and stir to combine. (The 1/4 cup is a really rough estimate - I really just dumped some in.)
6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. [**Another note: I made nearly twice as many pretzels with this recipe - maybe mine were just small?] Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Holding each end, whip the center of the rope in toward itself so the U-shape catches and spins a couple times. Lay it down carefully, bringing the two ends down to meet the bottom (center of what was the U). Basically, make a pretzel shape.
7. Place the pretzels into the boiling water and baking soda, 2 or 3 at a time (however many will fit comfortably), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Place the boiled pretzels on the baking sheet. Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.
8. Bake until they are just starting to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush with melted butter, making sure not to remove all the salt! Cool for 5 minutes before serving.