Monday, April 30, 2012

Coffee Maple No-Knead Cinnamon rolls and Mise en place

If you asked me what the most important thing was that I learned at Pastry School and from working at a bakery, I would have to say "Mise en place."  Now when you say this French phrase be sure to add some southern twang to it, trust me it sounds so much cooler and people will think you are smart.

What is this "Mise en place" I speak of?  Well quite literally it translates into "everything in place."  Basically it is setting out/weighing your ingredients, and setting out all the equipment needed to make a dish.  This was very essential when it came to making large batches of cookies, as it helped guarantee you didn't forget small but important ingredients like baking soda.

I have to confess I am quite terrible at the whole "mise en place" concept.  I can't tell you how many times I set out to make a dish and come to find out half way into it I am missing an essential ingredient, like sugar.  Part of the reason I am really horrible at this is because really most of the things in my kitchen can't be in place because they never had a place to begin with.  I live at home with the parents, and I cook out of their kitchen.  So on top of it being a very busy family kitchen it also doubles as my experiment lab and part time bakery.  I honestly don't know why my parents haven't banned me from their space yet, because not only to I invade it, but I dominate it!

"Mise en place" is a great idea in theory, and also a great practice you should implement into all your cooking ventures.  It will help you stay on point, stay on track, and follow a recipe more exactly.  I guess my creative and scattered brained mind just can't be confined by the rules of "mise en place", and that is why I often find myself making chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips.

Now most people are intimidated by yeast bread recipes, but if you mise en place your way through it you will be fine.  Trust me, I made these cinnamon rolls with one hand...honest I did. Another way to implement "mise en place" is by "mise en placing" your mind.  Read through the recipe entirely so you know what to expect as the recipe progresses.

I have had this recipe bookmarked for some time now, and have been waiting for an occasion to arise that merited fresh cinnamon rolls, but then I decided that every day fits that bill.  I check the Pioneer Woman blog every so often to see what she is up to.  I have tried many of her recipes with mixed results.  I have conflicted opinions about her recipes because sometimes she uses taboo ingredients that a snob like me never cake mix or God forbid bottled salad dressing.  Shock of all shocks * gasp!

Four things made me try this recipe:

1)  The never ending laundry list of rave reviews from her readers
2)  The fact that the dough is "no knead", which is always what I need...too far, yeah I thought so : )
3)  The frosting being made with coffee and maple unique and divine sounding
4)  The addition of baking soda and baking powder to a yeast dough intrigued me and I had to see for myself if it did  :)

Thanks Pioneer Woman for a great keeper recipe!

Look I made you a video!  A little long I know, and many editing issues, but I promise to get better at editing : )

Coffee Maple No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman blog


    2 cups Whole Milk
    1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
    1/2 cup Sugar
    1 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
    4 cups All-purpose Flour
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
    1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons (heaping) Salt
    1 1/2 sticks softened Butter
    1 cups Brown Sugar...or white sugar
    Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
Coffee Maple Frosting:
    1 pound Powdered Sugar
    2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
    1/4 cup Milk
     2 TBS Melted Butter
    1/8 cup strong Brewed Coffee
    pinch of Salt
    Preparation Instructions:
Heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. This will take about 40-60 minutes to cool.*  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 4 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
To make the filling, spread 1 /12 sticks of softened butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.  Sprinkle with 1 cup of the brown sugar spreading evenly.  Then sprinkle with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly away from you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slice the log into about 30 pieces.  Pour a tablespoon of melted butter into the bottom of 3 cake pans, or 2 TBS into 1 13x9 pans, and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each round cake pan will hold 9-10 rolls.)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the counter top for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, maple syrup, and salt.  Whisk until very smooth. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top, spread around with a spatula.  As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time.

* The first time I made these I wasn't paying attention and didn't let the milk/sugar/oil mixture cool...which resulted in me killing the yeast and the rolls not rising...what was I thinking!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and the SUMMER OLYMPICS!!!!

Please note...these pictures were taken a few weeks ago with my old camera : (

I have 3 brothers and a dad.  For some reason they never did watch sports like the typical American male.  They preferred to play as many sports as possible instead.  They don't have any favorite baseball teams, football teams, hockey teams, basketball teams, or anything!  For this reason I know nothing about football...and I am okay with that.

I know many men and their families who are die hard fans of certain teams.  They know all the history, all the facts, all the stats, and never miss a game.  When I watch these fans be so consumed  with love of their team I just sit their in awe not understanding at all how they can feel such devotion to team, or to a player.  This concept of being obsessed with sports is so lost on me.

Now Olympics is a whole different story.  Growing up we didn't have a TV in the house, but every 2 years somehow a TV would appear for 2-3 weeks just in time for the Olympics.  We were hard core fans and would watch constantly every event from start to finish.  Even our curfew was done away with, and we would all sit on the floor until the wee hours of the night staring up at the heroic Olympians striving to reach their golden dreams.

I loved all the back stories, getting to know all the competitors and how their journey's had led to this point.  All the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice was inspiring and mesmerizing!  Oh how we all wanted to be Olympians.  I even remember at one point thinking I would maybe start learning how to throw a javelin...that was short lived. : )  I can't even throw a Frisbee or a football...what was I thinking?

So start the countdown folks, the summer 2012 London Olympics starts on July 27th!  When they do start I highly recommend you make these cupcakes to help celebrate the festivities!

I came across this recipe because I occasionally make birthday cakes for our office parties, and this month I decided to make cupcakes.  I was pleasantly surprised by the end product, and will probably be making these more often now that I know they taste so good.  The recipe is super easy to mix up, and only requires one bowl.  At first I was weary of not mixing the wet together and then adding the dry...instead this recipe basically tosses everything into the bowl and calls it a day.  I originally wanted to use a frosting recipe with heavy cream in it, but since the cupcakes were being made a day ahead and I had no fridge space I opted for this version instead.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Adapted ever so slightly from the Brown Eyed Baker blog
Yield: 12 cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 Stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
1 large egg , room temperature
2 large egg yolks , room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (optional...if you don't have this just swap it with extra vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners, or spray pans well with baking spray.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes pan and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whip butter using whisk attachment on blender for about 5 minutes.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla, whisk until smooth and combined.  Frost cupcakes.  Leftovers can be stored in fridge.

(If you want to spice up your cupcake add a little cinnamon to the frosting or some honey...super yum indeed)

Check out this video for a fun way to ice a cupcake : )

Eat your heart out, and watch the Olympics this summer!!!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The best laid plans...California Eating and my camera love

You know when you have high hopes for a vacation and then it totally doesn't go as planned?  Come on, I know everyone has had at least one of those trips...or maybe it only happens to me.

So...I FINALLY bought my new camera and was excited to travel to California for the Easter weekend to see my sister and get to know my new camera.  That is exactly what I did with the addition of sickness and way more couch time then I was planning on.

I had weird sickness with swollen glands, sore throatness, for 3 days out of my 5 days there.  Thankfully my sister and her husband were gracious enough to move at my slow pace and not do all the hiking, travelling around, touring that we had planned on.  Next time California, next time! 

Somehow we still managed to eat at quite a few restaurants, and then I ended my trip with a 4 mile walking bakery tour with a childhood neighbor/friend who is now living in California.  So, even though things didn't go as planned, it was still a nice vacation away from the heat of Texas.

Day 1:  We ate dinner/Happy hour at a cute modern boho feeling restaurant in Culver City called Fraiche.  We all shared a Truffle burger, a Lamb sloppy Joe, and herbed French fries.  Delicious!  Then we walked around a bit and had some chocolate chip cookies at Ugo and my brother invented a new drink...Frangellico and an espresso shot...way to go Jobro.

Day 2:  We Farmer's Marketed near Venice Beach.  I bought a bag of tiny clementine oranges and ate all of them before I left Cali.  BEST ORANGES EVER.  You opened them and I swear the sunlight burst out of them and every little orange segment was oozing with juicy deliciousness!  So divine!  I also had a very delicate rugelach cookie that was simple, but scrumptious.  I also decided that I am going to venture out to try to make a rugelach cookie bar in the near future.  Can't wait!

We enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner at the Santa Monica Seafood Company.  Salmon Tartar, and yes I actually tried it...and no, I didn't like it.  All raw fish should be cooked...I am not changing my mind on that one anytime soon.  We shared some very crab filled crab cakes with a mustard glaze, and then shared a shrimp and grilled vegetable salad.

Then we went to Good Friday Services at Saint Monica church in Santa Monica.  The music was impressive, but the lyrical dancers ruined it.  Really didn't go to church to see middle aged people dancing around the church in black leotards...weird, just weird.

Day 3:  We Farmer's Marketed again...can you tell I love farmer's markets?  Shared a perfect breakfast wrap.  Forgot to take a picture I was too hungry to get my camera out.  Then we had a beach day for about an hour...which is about how long I usually last at the beach before my insides melt and I have to seek air conditioning.  Then we wandered around the Manhattan beach area and had lunch at a little place called Sloopys.  Shared a really good Chinese chicken salad wrap, can't wait to make up my own version soon!
Then we wandered to a bakery called "Lidos."  Bought some really good coconut macaroons.  Perfectly sweet, not full of fake coconut extract, and super toasty.  Also bought a really hearty date crumb bar, it was good but a Bakery in Santa Barbara has better ones.

Day 4:  Harrison Ford's son made us Brunch at his restaurant in Culver City, Ford's filling Station.  Great food indeed!  We shared an awesome sunny side up egg with homemade sausage, and spinach plate.  Then we split a homemade challah french Toast topped with a million blueberries and creme fraiche.  So divine!  Then my brother in law got black bean soup, because that is what normal people eat for breakfast at 9am.  Um yeah, no

Then we feasted on an incredible Easter meal prepared by my sister.  Roast Lamb, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, spinach filled mushrooms, Easter Mashed potatoes, and arugula salad with strawberries and balsamic dressing.

Day 5:  Bakery Tour Time!  We walked, and we ate.  My favorite place was called Big Sugar Bake Shop.  Really great State Fair Oatmeal Raisin cookie, really tasty mini doughnut muffins, and a perfect pecan bar.  We also shared a really good breakfast at Sweet Butter Kitchen of mashed white beans and arugula on wheat toast with scrambled eggs and roasted tomatoes.  Very, very good!

  Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner for the day after travelling : )

So for any of you curious people out there I ended up getting a Sony Nex-C3.  It is one of the new mirror less cameras (capabilities of a dslr but size of a point and shoot).  Obviously as you can tell from my pictures, I haven't figured out all the bells and whistles, but the photo clarity is leaps and bounds better then my old point and shoot.  I think this camera has real potential and I look forward to taking many pictures with it. : )

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week and Chocolate Ricotta Pie

Holy Week!  I love all the tradition that comes with Holy Week.  I really don't have much to say on the subject, because I am no I am handing this one over to Pope Benedict XVI with a passage from his Palm Sunday homily:

"May Palm Sunday be a day of decision for you, the decision to say yes to the Lord and to follow him all the way, the decision to make his Passover, his death and resurrection, the very focus of your Christian lives. It is the decision that leads to true joy..."

To read the rest of his homily click here.  Don't miss out on Holy week this year!  It is awesome!

I really do love our Lenten hymns, they are haunting yet peaceful.  Here are a few of my favorites : )

This is one of my favorite desserts to make for Easter Sunday.  I didn't have the time or energy to make one for you so this will have to do.  Chocolate Ricotta divine!  The texture is amazing, and the filling is light and smooth.  So tasty!

Click here to find the recipe.

I am headed out West for Easter and I will be back again and posting in one week! 
Have a blessed Holy week and Happy Easter!