Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cinnamon Roll Success

A few weeks ago my friend Verena came and spent a few days with me in Berlin. When I asked what she wanted me to make for her all she said was 'Cinnamon Rolls'.
You see, a few years ago, Verena spent some time in Vancouver and had cinnamon rolls at Grounds for Coffee. And there has been something of an obsession happening since then. I made several attempts recreating these amazing cinnamon rolls (so I've been told) but it is kind of hard aiming for something that you have never tasted and where you don't quite have a feeling for what you're actually aiming for (my mental image of what these wondrous cinnamon rolls at Grounds for Coffee are like is based on a description made up almost entirely of superlatives).
Let me tell you straight away, my first few attempts didn't work out that well. Either they were too dense, or too doughy, or too dry,or something goes wrong with the icing. In short, as much as I love cinnamon rolls, there is no food-group I've had more disasters with.
When I finally got around to reading Baked Elements (I know, it's not that new anymore) I was intrigued by their pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Everything I've cooked from their books has turned out really well and pumpkin puree seemed like the perfect ingredient to solve my too-dry/too-dense problems.
So when Verena mentioned the cinnamon rolls the recipe got its chance. And they were even better than I had expected.
Oh, and if you can't get hold of pumpkin puree make your own by roasting some hubbard or butternut quash in your oven with the skin still on. Scrape the soft flesh off the skin and puree until you have a homogenous consistency. If the puree is still quite liquid, let the puree sit in a colander line with some cheesecloth for a while.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Lewis & Poliafito: Baked Elements)
375g Flour (use something with a higher protein content)
100g Rapadura Sugar
1 tbsp Instant Dry Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
1/2 tsp ground Cardamom
75g Butter (softened)
175 ml Milk (warmed but NOT hot)
1 Egg
175g Pumpkin Puree

200g Rapadura Sugar
1tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
2 x 30g Butter

60g softened Cream Cheese
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
150g Icing Sugar

Butter a 26cm springform tin and line the bottom with baking paper. Butter the paper as well, then tust the entire thing with some flour.
Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and spices in a bowl. Add the butter, milk, and egg and mix until they are well incorporated. If you have a standing mixer this should take two or three minutes, if you are using your hands this might take a bit longer. Add the pumpkin puree and mix for another three minutes. If you, like me, don't own a standing mixer ignore the fact that it will take you forever to get the dough off your fingers once you are done and keep kneading for about 5 minutes. I tend to think about the workout my arms are getting. That thought makes things a bit less boring :)
I'm completely loosing my train of thought today....form the dough into a ball, stick it into a bowl if it's not already in one and cover the bowl with some cling film. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes or so and contemplate the fact that every recipe seems to include the instruction to place dough in a greased bowl. I really don't get that - if you're already working in a bowl you'll either have to get out a second bowl you'll have to wash or if you only own one big bowl you have to wash the stupid bowl, get oil all over it and then wen you're done you'll have to slave away forever making sure there's no fat left in there when you wash it again or if you use it to whip egg-whites the next time you'll be wondering why nothing is happening. That seems like such a waste of time to me. I mean it's not like you won't get the dough out of the bowl if you don't grease it...
Anyhow, after contemplating that for a bit, snap out of it and make the super complicated filling :)
Mix the sugar, salt and spices with 30g of the butter. The original recipe asked for melted butter but I obviously didn't read that part. Using softened butter worked just fine.
After 30 minutes, clear a 40x60cm space on your kitchen counter so you can roll out the dough. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a 25x50cm rectangle.
You should have 30g butter left. Melt it and brush the dough with half of it.
Sprinkle the filling over the the dough and spread it out so you have a somewhat even layer. Then, roll up the long side of the dough until you are left with a 50cm long cinnamon roll log.
Cut the log into 5cm pieces and arrange those in the springform tin. If you put one piece in the middle of the tin and then arrange the remaining pieces around it each piece gets about the same amount of space.
Brush the top of the cinnamon roll pieces with the remaining melted butter, cover the tin with some cling film and go and pick up your best friend from the train station. Or watch some TV for 45 minutes. Or clean your living room.
Preheat your oven to 175˚C.
Once the cinnamon rolls have doubled in size, bake them for 25 to 30 minutes until the tops are slightly golden and your entire apartment smells of cinnamon and pumpkin.
Whisk the cream cheese and lemon juice until you can't see any more lumps. Add the icing sugar and keep whisking until you have a smooth mixture.
Let the rolls cool slightly so you don't burn your fingers.
If you are sensible, take the rolls out of the springform before adding the icing. Don't listen to your friend who tells you the pictures will be super pretty if you add the icing beforehand (you will end up with hands covered in icing as you are trying to tear the rolls apart later...). and cinnamon rolls!
I hope you have a fab week!

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