Cinnamon rolls (with assistance from the defender of the universe)

I’ve never made bread without using my breadmaker, and I’ve never made cinnamon rolls at all. However!  Faint heart never won fair dessert, so I thought I’d give it a try today.

This recipe is from Betty Crocker Baking Basics – recipes and tips to bake with confidence, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. This is definitely a recipe you need to read through a few times before attempting.

Time required: 4 hours

Yields: 15 rolls

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $38.

Cost per roll: $2.54

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • small sauce pan
  • candy thermometer
  • 9″ x 13″ pan
  • rolling pin

Dough ingredients:

  • 3½ C to 4C of all-purpose white flour (divided)
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 4½ TSP fast-acting yeast
  • 1 C milk
  • ¼ C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • cooking spray

Filling ingredients:

  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TSP ground cinnamon
  • ¼ C unsalted butter, softened

Glaze ingredients:

  • 1 C icing sugar
  • 1 TBSP butter, softened
  • ½ TSP vanilla
  • 1 to 2 TSP milk

Dough instructions:

1. Make the dough in the bowl for your mixer, combine: 2 C flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. (Measure out another 2 C of flour and set it aside.) Blend ingredients well with wooden spoon. It took not quite two of those little packets to get enough yeast.

 

 

2. Heat milk in a sauce pan on medium until temperature reads between 49°C and 54°C (120°F to 130°F).

3. Add warm milk, egg, and butter to dry ingredients.

4. Beat on low for 1 min, stopping to stir down sides 3 times. Everything should be moistened now.

Beat on medium for 1 min, scrape sides 2 times.

5. Now add the reserved flour, half a cup at a time, and gently beat it in with the wooden spoon. (This was about the time I remembered my KitchenAid has a bread hook, but oh well.)

According to the book, you just stir in the flour as you add it, but my dough was not absorbing the extra flour, the lump of dough kept moving around the bowl but none of the flour got sucked in. Bread dough is kind of weird, I’ve never seen it before. It’s… almost gunky at first, then it gets ropey. Hard to describe.

Anyway I stuck it back in the mixer for a minute and beat the hell out of it. Suggest you uh… find your own path to making bread. Don’t follow my path which is fraught with peril. From the bowl of flour I reserved from the original measuring, I used all but about ½ C.

6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes.. (What does that even mean?) I decided to put wax paper on a collapsing table, thunk the dough down, and punch the shit out of it. Why? Because I have a teeny tiny amount of counter space and it’s currently all covered in stuff I was too lazy to remove prior to starting this endeavor. In hindsight this may have not been the best idea, but the timer dinged and my 5 minutes were up. Thank God.

7. Spray a bowl with cooking spray, plop the dough in the bowl, and turn it so it gets covered in the cooking spray (I’m not clear why you do this, but that’s what the book said to do).

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (whether to cover loosely, or tightly, is a bone of contention). Leave the bowl alone for 1.5 hours in a draft-free area. I grabbed Voltron to show scale.

8. Behold! The mighty process of fermentation. (That’s what the yeast does to make the bread rise, adding the water re-activates the yeast to produce carbon dioxide, which rises.)

Unwrap the dough and press one finger into it. If the indentation remains in the dough it’s ready. I got so excited about punching the dough I forgot to do this step.

My dough hath risen, am feeling confident, half the battle is won.

Onto the filling!

Filling instructions:

9. Spray the 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray.

10. In a small bowl combine white sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

11. Punch the dough to deflate the gas. (Apparently you aren’t supposed to go Chuck Norris on it, just one or two love taps is enough? Boring!)

12. Flour the counter top or wherever you intend to flatten the dough, and use your hands to spread it out.

13. Roll it into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle.

14. Spread the softened butter over surface, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.

 

15. Starting with the long side, roll the dough up like a jelly roll.

Try to get an evenly shaped roll of dough. Best of luck with that part.

16. Use a serrated knife to cut into 15 pieces. Or 13, or whatever.

17. Place the pieces into the greased pan.

Cover with plastic wrap again, and leave for 30 min to rise again.

Now it’s time to bake those bad boys.

Baking the rolls:

Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F, and use centre rack.

Take the plastic wrap off the tray of rolls, and bake them for 30 minutes.

18. Remove rolls from the pan immediately and transfer to wire rack. Let cool 5 minutes.

 

Now all that’s left is to make the glaze and you are done. Finally!

Glaze instructions:

19. Combine icing sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir until smooth and drizzle over warm rolls.

Sit back and enjoy the results of what feels like an entire day’s work.

Verdict: God, this took forever. I think they are a little bit over done, but Boyfriend thinks they are perfect. I’d take 5 minutes off the baking time when I make them again. They tasted great.

Playlist: Song of the Hero  – The Legend of Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses

Patty’s double chocolate peanut butter cookies

Today was a great day. I met someone I really admire (and got her autograph!), and we have company, Boyfriend’s brother stopped in for a visit. I’m told he is a master of chocolate chip cookies, so I wanted to make something a little different. I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe my sister taught me, and improvised.

Will these cookies blow him away? Just stay right there, and find out!

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 2 dozen or so

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42.

Cost per cookie: $1.75

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • cookie tray

Ingredients:

  • ¾ C Golden Crisco
  • 1¼ C light brown sugar, packed lightly
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1¾ C flour
  • 3 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • ¾ TSP baking soda
  • 1 C peanut butter Chipits
  • 1 C milk chocolate Chipits

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C / 375°F.

2. Cream the Crisco and sugar together.

3. In a glass measuring cup combine egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat into sugar.

4. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Gradually add to wet.

5. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips.

6. Roll dough into balls, bake 10 min.

7. Cool cookies in pan for 2 min before transferring to wire rack to cool.

8. Pour some milk and enjoy.

Verdict: These were pretty awesome. Will definitely make these again.

Playlist:  The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddesses

 

Patty’s ultimate peanut butter cookies

It’s round 2 of Patty vs. Peanut Butter. Are these the cookies I’ve been waiting for? Stay tuned and find out.

I adapted this recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookies! book, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca if you’re interested.

Time required: 1 hr

Yields: 2 dozen or so

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $54

Cost per cookie: $2.25

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • cookie trays

Ingredients:

  • 2¾ C flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP corn syrup
  • 2 TSP vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ C Chipits Reese’s peanut butter chips
  • ½ C Chipits milk chocolate chips
  • ½ C Chipits Skor toffee chips

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C / 375°F.

2. In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In mixer cream together butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter (it’s a lot easier to get the peanut butter out if you lightly grease the cup first). Beat until fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and corn syrup. I always mix all the wet stuff together then pour into the dough because I am lazy.

5. On low speed, add the dry mixture by thirds, beat until just combined.

6. Mix in the chips, then cover and chill dough for 30 min.

This is some seriously heavy dough.

7. Roll dough into balls and bake for 12 min. Do that fork thing if you want.

8. Cool in pan 1 min, then transfer to wire rack.

9. Pour some milk and enjoy!

Verdict: Tonight we have company, a friend who is a self-proclaimed cookie connoisseur. He tasted one of these, and decided, “It’s actually pretty much perfect.”

I really enjoyed these.

Playlist: The Legend of Zelda symphony

Peanut butter cookies

Sometimes you find the tastiest recipes off packages in the baking aisle. These cookies were made from the directions on a bag of Hershey’s Chipits Reese peanut butter chips.

I’m enjoying a rare Saturday off and am having a lazy day. So lazy in fact, I was careless with dropping the dough on the tray and ended up with very flat cookies. Behold, peanut butter cookies made without peanut butter!

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: about 4 dozen small cookies

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30

Cost per cookie: $0.63

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • cookie tray

Ingredients:

  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 C golden brown sugar
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ TSP vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP salt
  • 300g package of Reese peanut butter chipits

1. Pre-heat oven to 190 °C / 375°F.

2. In mixer cream butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.

3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

4. In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to wet mixture.

5. Add peanut butter chips, and drop onto cookie tray.

6. Bake around 10 minutes.

7. Cool cookies on pan (on a wire rack) for 2 min, before transferring cookies directly to wire rack.

Verdict: Not bad, but not the best peanut butter cookie I’ve eaten.

Playlist: howling cat

Blueberry jam

Last week my sister M taught me how to make blueberry jam, the same way Grandma taught her. Am feeling very proud of myself, and my jam!

Time required: 2 days (1 hour of actual work, needs to set overnight)

Yields: six 250 mL jars of jam, or 7 cups of jam

Total cost if you have none of the tools and ingredients: about $80.00 since making jam requires an initial investment to purchase the equipment. Everything you need can be purchased online at Golda’s Kitchen, they sell the Bernardin canning starter kit for $67.25 which contains:

  • waterbath canner
  • canning rack
  • jar lifter
  • funnel
  • magnetic lid lifter
  • bubble remover/headspace gauge
  • 4 mason jars with rings & lids
  • pectin
  • how-to canning DVD

FYI: The jars and rings can be re-used, but the lids cannot be. A 12-pack of lids costs $3.50, and you can also get extra jars and rings for a fairly cheap price.

To put the cost in perspective, once you have the equipment, to keep going you’ll need to keep buying white sugar, fruit, and the pectin which is $2.25 per package. The actual cost per jar is around $2-$3 which is amazing considering you can make DELICIOUS HOMEMADE JAM whenever you want.

Before you get started:

You don’t want to poison your nearest and dearest so listen up. Part of canning is learning how to properly seal the jar. If you screw this up your preserves may develop botulism which can be fatal.

Read a book on canning, ask your granny, consult the pros, know what you are doing!

Storage: if the seal is correct, jam can be stored for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. Once the jam is opened it needs to be refrigerated. Any jar that did not seal correctly should be refrigerated and consumed within 2 weeks.

Spoilage: visible signs of spoilage may not appear right away, it can take time for bulging or leaking to occur. When you open a jar, watch out for discolouration, mold, or weird odors.

Sterilization: equipment must be sterilized before you put the ingredients together.

  • Sanitize jars in the oven, pre-heat to 108°C / 225°F and heat jars for 10 minutes, then keep in the hot oven until needed.
  • Sanitize lids in a pot of steaming (not boiling) water, keep in hot water until needed.
  • Rings do not not need to be sanitized.

Don’t tinker with the recipe. Doubling the batch or skimping on sugar will cause your jam to not set.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pectin (we used Certo)
  • 2½ C granulated white sugar (divided)
  • 1 box frozen blueberries
  • 1 C water

1. Place canning rack in canning pot, fill with water about halfway. Simmer and cover.  Sanitized jars should be in hot oven, sanitized lids should be in hot water (see tips above).

2. In a bowl combine ¼ C white sugar and pectin. (Reserve the rest of the sugar for later.)

3. If using fresh berries, crush with a potato masher. If using frozen berries, microwave them for a minute first. You need to obtain 5 cups of crushed berries (this is not 5 cups of whole berries).

A big glass measuring bowl is helpful. Once you have enough fruit, transfer to a large pot (not your canning pot).

4. Add water to fruit.

5. Add the sugar/pectin  mixture to fruit. Give it a good stir.

6. Put pot on stove and bring to a boil, then stir in remaining sugar.

Increase heat til you achieve a rolling boil (can’t stir it down). Let pot boil for 1 min, stirring often.

7. Remove fruit from heat, stir and skim for 5 minutes. See how it bunches up towards the left side? You don’t want that in your jam, gently pull it up and away and discard.

8. Place a funnel into a hot jar. Use a fresh measuring cup to spoon the jam into the jar.

9. When the jar is nearly full, use the headspace gauge. The little corners mark different heights, we filled to ¼ of an inch to the top. The jam should just touch the bottom of the gauge. (Too much space, or not enough space, affects the seal.)

10. Use the end of a measuring spoon to gently stir out air bubbles. M is braver than me, she is handling the hot jars barehanded. Wipe the rim of the jar clean when you are done. (Jam on the rim will affect the seal.)

11. Use magnetic lifter to get the hot lids onto the jars.

12. Use your finger tips to screw the ring onto the jar. You don’t want it super-tight, because the air in the jar will expand as the hot jam heats it up, and that hot air needs to be able to escape the jar, to create the vacuum seal when the jar cools.

13. Now it’s time to use the canning pot and rack. The water should be hot but not boiling yet. Use the jar lifter to set the jars onto the rack.

Use a stick to ensure you have at least one inch of water above the lids.

14. Turn up the heat until you have a full rolling boil, then cover and cook for 10 minutes.

15. Use jar lifter to remove jars from pot, and set into a lined pan. Leave room between jars for air to circulate. Let jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours. You should hear a “pop” as the jars cool.

16. The next day check the seal. (If you have sealed your jars correctly, you can pick them up by the lids without the lids coming off.) Remove the rings, the lids should be “sucked down”. Press down on the centre of the lids with your finger.

If the lid springs up after you take your finger away it did not seal. :[

17. Put on bread and enjoy!

Verdict: Making jam was very fun. I feel like a pioneer now, bring on the sod. Boyfriend was very impressed. Thank you M!! Homemade jam is also very delicious, I am enjoying some right now.

Playlist: Final Fantasy Distant Worlds