The first challenge assumed will be cinnamon rolls. All gooey, delicious, and cream cheese-y, what could go wrong? I’m really excited to begin this project because I get to flex my creative muscles again on a consistent basis with being in the kitchen and writing for other’s entertainment.
Here’s the recipe, courtesy Betty Crocker’s Cookbook- the “new and revised” edition that still appears to be from the ’70s:
1 package active try yeast 1/2 cup warm water (105 - 115°) 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled) 1/3 cup sugar 1/3 cup shortening, margarine, or butter; softened 1 tsp salt 1 egg 3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 sweet roll dough 2 Tbsp margerin or butter, softened 1/4 cup sugar 2 tsp ground cinnamon glaze (no recipe; I'll create a cream cheese frosting) Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic,about five minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1.5 hours. Punch down dough. Shape, let rise, and bake as directed: Roll dough into rectangle, 15x9" on lightly floured surface; spread with margarine. Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15" side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well. Stretch roll to make even. Cut into nine 1.5" slices. Place slightly apart in greased square pan, 9x9x2". Let rise until double, about 40 minutes. Heat oven to 375°. Bake until golden brown, 25 - 30 minutes. Glaze when cool.
My immediate thoughts that come to mind after reading through and typing up the recipe:
- Oh shit. The recipe doesn’t state how much yeast beyond a “package.” I bought a little jar of yeast.
- Double shit. This is way beyond my knowledge and skill level
- Yay, cream cheese frosting!
- I’ve never made anything that required kneading or proving before
- How to interpret these instructions:
... to make dough easy to handle
Like… how easy is “easy?” Isn’t dough already easy to handle by definition?
Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up
The “greased side” of what? The bowl? Isn’t the bowl’s greased side already up? Unless I’m supposed to throw the dough into the bowl and then flip that over so the side that touches the bowl and got greased is now that side up? But now isn’t everything greased? Why couldn’t Betty have just said, “grease your dough sphere?” 🤔
So, first things first. What the fuck is the equivalent of a “package of yeast?” Thanks to the Google:
One 1/4 -ounce (7g) packet of active dry yeast contains approximately 2-1/4 teaspoons
Ok. I haven’t even done step one in the recipe but I’m already half way through my beer. This only bodes well.
Nadia and I got this sweet ass infrared thermometer from her Uncle as a Christmas gift one year and had no idea when they’d ever it use beyond checking the temps of random things like Nadia’s perma-frigid hands or a dog’s head.
I dissolve the yeast but then realized the milk had to be scalded. Again, after confirming what scald officially means with the interwebs, I begin to feel nervous I made the yeast do yeast things too early because I had to wait for the heating and subsequent cooling of the milk. I could just toss that batch?
Noooope. Soldier on.
Heating the milk didn’t take too long. It’s the cooling I’m worried about. Into the fridge it goes. Now I think I have too much butter. Like, way too much but last checked, there’s a pretty linear correlation between amounts of butter and deliciousness, so I go with it. I already sorta melted it and threw away its wrapper and I can’t unmelt the butter and re-wrap it in garbage wrapping.
I mix everything as instructed and think everything’s going well.
I just don’t know how much to mix the dough, though. I realize if it’s overworked, it’ll become… something. I also imagine if it isn’ worked enough, it’ll result in a dough opposite of something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Also, the thought of touching the sticky dough results in a creeping case of anxiety. Finally, I realize have has no idea how to properly knead, so I YouTube proper technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySOj0fFWo1U
Ok. I kinda understand the process and what happens to the dough when you do it. This can’t be too difficult.
Welp, this is difficult.
I can’t knead
dough this dough. The consistency is incredibly sticky and far too thin to hold a shape as a dough, so there’s absolutely no way to properly knead. It’s definitely more of a scoop and smash, akin to some really sticky oatmeal you’re for some reason playing in. Frankly, it’s evident I’m starting to panic. While “kneading” it, I get worried that I’m over kneading but then begin to question if what I’m doing can even be considered kneading?
I scoop and smash for about five minutes.
I’m quite certain what has resulted doesn’t quite consist of a roll dough but I’m also not learned enough to know what it could be or how to salvage it. I definitely add another half cup of flour to thicken it up it and continue to scoop and smash. I do what I can and have finally set it out to prove for 90 minutes. This gives me time to both update this transcription and make the cream cheese frosting.
During the time it took to let the dough rise, I was busy cleaning the kitchen and making an embarrassingly numerous amount of edits to this post. Lost in all of it is a scary fact I only just realized after its first proving finished: With the consistency of this dough not holding any kind of shape, there’s no chance in hell it’s going to, you know, roll. Into a cinnamon roll.
State of panic #2.
Ah, damn! I totally didn’t even heed the “greased side up” direction that confused me earlier. Yet one more thing I’m going to assume will be fine.
The original directions say to use only half of the dough produced. How about, “No?” What do you do with the other half of the dough? Wait a week to bake more? As such I double the cinnamon/sugar amounts but don’t expect this to be an issue. It’s not like playing with the amounts of ingredients in the actual dough. That sounds disastrous.
Whooops. I forgot I was going to add brown sugar, too. I probably should have removed an equal-ish amount of white sugar. C’est la vie.
So, I has to admit. I’m preeeeetty nervous about this part. With how sticky and runny the dough was/is, even after sitting for two plus hours, I’m not sold on it rolling into, a roll, or at best, anything that comes close to resembling an effort at rolled dough. To compensate, I am consuming beer #3. Time to roll out this 15×9″ dough rectangle and add the yummy filling.
IT’S WORKING. I can’t fucking believe it. Cautious optimism: engaged.
It’s not perfect, but I’m both surprised and half-pleased with the results so far…
… though, rolling them has turned out to be a slight adventure. While wrapping the dough, some of spots didn’t have any raw flour on it and began sticking to my hands, so there now exist ripped holes in some of the wrap. Other parts of the wrap were too thick, so an uneven bake seems guaranteed. The pre-baked result look liked cursed little monsters who weren’t truly monsters but a blob. A blob of fat dough.
Just before I wrap these to undergo a second prove, Nadia catches a glimpse of them. Her reaction can only be described as 😳
While the recipe suggested 25-30 minutes, these beasts took 42′ to cook. Even then, they never really received any color on top. This is definitely a delicate dance between under and overcooking.
The dough itself doesn’t really feel like a true cinnamon roll and touching them while removing them from the pan kinda confirms it. It’s a bit doughy and the bottoms are a beautiful golden, so I’m thinking they can’t be in the oven too much longer. 😓
At least Nadia said, “Hey! That one kind of looks like a cinnamon roll!” So… success? However, what the fuck happened to this poor guy? There’s definitely no semblance of a roll. It’s just kinda a smear of dough and filling.
It’s evident I have a great wave of relief washing over me now that the baking process has completed. Here’s hoping they’re edible!
- Moving between the recipe, ingredients, phone, laptop for blog updates, and hand washing makes for really long baking sessions
- Every action feels so final due to the precision needed for successful bakes. For someone with anxiety-inducing amounts of perfectionism, this will be interesting to handle. It’s the same reason I struggle to allow myself draw, paint, or color- it feels like it can’t be fixed or undone.
- Don’t be afraid to use more raw flour to coat surfaces, utensils, and dough to prevent sticking
- Be afraid to use more raw flour to coat surfaces, utensils, and dough
- Baking’s hard
total cakies earned
These scores are when compared against the ideal cinnamon roll. The higher the score, from 0 to 10 Cakies, the better. Quotes are directly from Nadia.
Appearance: 2/10 Cakies, “It looks like a scone with a bunch of butter smeared on top; seems raw.”
Appeal: 5/10 Cakies, “I definitely want to eat it, but only because I know it consists of butter, sugar, and cream cheese. It smells good.”
Taste: 4/10 Cakies, “Icing needs more sugar. The dough is tacky and my jaws are glued together.”
Overall: 4/10 Cakies, “… but I’m going to eat it. And I’ll probably eat another one later.”
Best part: Cinnamon/sugar ribbon
Worst part: The texture of the dough
So, that was a first attempt. I feel pretty happy that they were edible to the point where both Nadia and I would eat another one. However, I’m not entirely sure why the texture was, frankly, awful. Perhaps he didn’t prove it long enough or there was too much moisture in the dough? Or maybe he messed up the yeast when the milk was being scalded.
Either way, I think this was incredibly fun and had a lot laughs throughout. I think I learned a thing or two and will attempt to apply this knowledge to future bakes. I hope you’ve enjoyed bake #1 as much as I have and- there’s lots more on the way.