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Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

February 20, 2013

Lately it seems as though I don’t have a spare moment to sit down and just not think. I just want to sit down and let my mind go blank for a while and not think about what I have to do that night or the next day or the next weekend or the next month. I want to be not thinking of the moment I am in.

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The problem is every  time I sit down to not think I start thinking of all the things I need to think of so I don’t forget my thoughts later.  It’s a lost cause… I can’t help but think.

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When the going gets tough and I need a break from my thoughts I bake. I follow a recipe because it tells me exactly what I need, makes all my decisions for me, guides me on what I need to do, and it always gives me a perfect result. It’s a nice break from making the decisions that are difficult to make and gives me the time I need to not think.

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Baking gives me the satisfaction that I’ve done something right. I know the tops of my cupcakes rose to pretty little domes because of what I did.  I know the diference between folding in egg whites and mixing in egg whites. I know without the proper vigilance, browned butter can quickly become burnt butter. I know these things because I’ve learned these things from trial and error.

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As different as ruining a batch of cupcakes and making a bad decision may seem, I like to think they teach you a similar lesson. Maybe you were experimenting with creating a new recipe and the first recipe was a flop, but by the second third fourth attempt you realized you were missing that secret step that gives the bread it’s elasticity. I like to think life is like experimenting in the kitchen. So maybe you made a poor decision at one point, but you saw what happened as a result, you changed your behavior accordingly the next time you were faced with a similar decision, and you were left with something great.

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I’ve attempted to make bread on numerous occasions and for some reason or another, it’s never really worked out for me. I didn’t let the yeast get foamy, there was a draft, I didn’t knead properly… the list goes on. I’ve always strayed away from making bread because it’s always ended up in a failure and I don’t like failing. But I decided to take on this challenge head first and not shy away!

For the FIRST time in my life, I made bread properly. I found a space with no draft, I covered it in plastic wrap so the dough could double in size, I timed it perfectly. I made dough-y yeast cinnamon rolls and MY GOD, are they delicious.

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**Ironically enough the morning after I wrote this post my garage door wouldn’t open and I got trapped in the garage, then broke the garage door entirely, and then that night it took me three hours to get home from work because there was a snow storm. Some weeks aren’t easy.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls recipe from The Crepes of Wrath:

Dough:

1 cup buttermilk (about 115 degrees F)

½ cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons yeast

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 eggs, room temperature

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cinnamon Filling:

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 cup brown sugar

3 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 cup cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

3-4 tablespoons whole milk

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)

  1. Place your sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a regular bowl if you are doing this by hand). Heat up the buttermilk to about 115 degrees F. Add the warm buttermilk to the sugar, then sprinkle your yeast on top. Allow the yeast to sit for 8-10 minutes, until it becomes foamy (sometimes this may take more than 10 minutes if you have older yeast, but if it doesn’t foam, you’re going to have to start over)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted and cooled butter, eggs, and salt, then add them to the bowl with the foamy yeast and buttermilk. Mix until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour and salt, then gradually add that to the bowl, until just moistened. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer to low and add in an additional cup of flour, and when that has been incorporated, add in the 5th cup of flour. Continue to knead for 8 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in that bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in size
  3. When you’re ready to roll out your dough, lightly flour your work surface, your hands, and your rolling pin, and punch down the dough. Roll out the dough into an 18×20-inch rectangle, adding more flour as needed. Brush your 1/3 cup melted butter over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of space around the outside so that the filling doesn’t squeeze out when you roll it up, then combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the butter.
  4. Roll the dough up from the longest side, keeping it as tightly rolled as possible. Cut it into 15 equal sized pieces with a sharp knife, then butter a 9×13-inch pan and place the cinnamon rolls into the greased pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a towel, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for another hour, until about doubled in size.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or so, until lightly golden but not browned. While they bake, make your frosting by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean in a mixer and beating until smooth. Spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls. You can serve them warm, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Terry permalink
    February 20, 2013 11:14 am

    I have a bread phobia also and I think it’s because I have yet to find a draft free place. I had one in my old house but the open floor plan of existing house allows for a wind tunnel. Or maybe it’s just from the dogs wagging their tails? Anyway, your rolls look amazing and enough to inspire me to try again.

  2. Erin permalink
    February 20, 2013 8:14 pm

    I would get up and make these right now (well these and about 3 other desserts) however I am recuperating from the holidays.. And superbowl… And two Monday’s ago and v day.. I could go on.. Anywhoo my “diet” doesn’t work out well when all calories are made up of cinnamon rolls.. or mini cupcakes or Oreos.. Well you get the idea.. But I will make these (soon) and thanks to you I will dream about eating them!

  3. Becky permalink
    February 21, 2013 2:19 pm

    Oven makes a fine draft free area. Just throw a towel or plastic wrap over your bowl and make sure no one turns your oven on! I make rolls, pizza crusts, all types of yeast bread all the time. No fear!

  4. Milena permalink
    March 23, 2013 5:38 pm

    I love your reason for baking, I am exactly the same. When I need a break from my thoughts I bake. Its almost therapeutic!

    Love your recipes.

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