Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Saturday morning was bitterly cold here in Manhattan. The apartment was freezing, even with multiple layers, my favorite robe and fuzzy slippers.

I prepared the coffee as these cinnamon rolls were baking in the oven. The spicy smell of the cinnamon awoke Mike from sleep.

Hot out of the oven, they received a beautiful, shiny coat of cream cheese glaze.

Into the cake stand, onto the table and into our cold, empty bellies.

I might just be able to make it through another cold New York day after all.

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

adapted from Bon Appetit (March 2008)

Download Recipe: PDF | Word




  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, divided

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (or 3/4 teaspoon SAF Instant Yeast)

  • 1 teaspoon table salt

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray



  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature




  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation Instructions

For dough:

Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is about 110 degrees, 30 to 45 seconds.

Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.


For filling:

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.


Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15 x 11-inch rectangle.

Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter.

Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove rolls from refrigerator and let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, ninety minutes to two hours.

Preheat to 375 degrees. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.


For glaze:




Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Test Recipe: Triple Ginger Cookies

I came across this recipe in Bon Appétit (December 2009) as I was flipping through during the hurried holiday season.

The thought of spicy ginger cookies with a hot cup of coffee was so warm and comforting, I momentarily forgot the temperature was only in the teens.

Last weekend, I set about to actually try this recipe. The recipe listed a yield of 40 cookies, which was entirely too many for, not only a first-go at a recipe, but also for two people. So I halved it.

I began by creaming the butter.

Then added the brown sugars...

...and creamed for about three minutes.

Then, the egg, molasses and spices were added.

Finally, the flour mixture was incorporated in two additions.

I scooped the dough with a mini-ice cream scoop (no.50 pastry scoop).

I decide to roll half of the cookies in the recommended granulated sugar...

...and the other half in a coarser turbinado sugar.

Onto the sheet pans and into the oven!

After about 12 minutes, they were ready to come out of the oven. I allowed them to cool on the pans for about five minutes and then transferred them to a cooling rack.

Finally, it was time to taste them.

They were good, but not amazing. They tasted much more like a molasses cookie than I had expected. And I do love molasses cookies, but these were supposed to be ginger cookies. Or as Mike named them “Ginger Three Ways” cookies.

Both versions of the rolling sugar, granulated and turbinado, tasted fine. I preferred the coarser texture of the turbinado sugar, but it is completely up to the preference of the baker.

Due to the fact that these tasted so much more like a molasses cookie than a ginger cookie, it will not find a permanent spot in my recipe binder.

One test recipe down. Many more to go.

Triple Ginger Cookies

adapted from Bon Appétit (December 2009)

yields about 40 cookies


2 ½ cups AP flour

1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

¼ cup light (mild-flavored) molasses

1 ½ teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger

1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup sugar (granulated or turbinado), for rolling

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with SilPats or parchment paper.

Whisk flour, crystallized ginger, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter until creamy and light, about 2 minutes.

Gradually beat in both brown sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add egg, molasses, fresh ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Beat to blend.

Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just to blend between additions.

Place 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl. Measure 1 tablespoon dough. Roll into ball between palms of hands, then roll in sugar in bowl to coat; place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, spacing cookies 1 ½ to 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until surfaces crack and cookies are firm around edges but still slightly soft in center, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Cool on sheet tray about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Test Recipes

When my time is limited, I generally like to make tried-and-true recipes. The ones I know will work; the ones that have worked a hundred times before.

But as I have begun the hefty task of organizing my recipes into proper binders, I have come across so many recipes I once tucked away because I wanted to try them. I have kept every food magazine possible over the last few years, assuming I will one day return to each edition to try out every recipe which yielded a “Mmmmmm!” as I read the ingredients and directions intently.

So I have decided each week, at whatever point I can squeeze in a few extra minutes, I will test at least one of these recipes. How else will I find new recipes to inspire me, discover new “go-to” recipes and pare down my recipe binders in the process?

With the chosen recipe in hand, I will scurry off to my little kitchen and take notes and photos through the entire creation. I will post these, along with the recipe, as well as the final verdict from myself and my official taste tester (Mike).

Besides benefiting me in many ways, I hope you will enjoy these test recipes and, perhaps, find a few to inspire you and add to your collection.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

4 Years Together

Four years ago, I was a sophomore in college, happily-single and enjoying my life and my freedom – school, work, contemplating careers, feeling free and not tied-down in the least. I was figuring out who I was and what I would, eventually, look for in a relationship.

It was a cold, Friday night in Williamsburg and I did not want to go out. But my roommate wasn’t having that, not so early on the semester, so we got ready, mixed some drinks and headed over to our friend’s quite cramped dorm room.

Squeezed between friends on a broken futon in a double-occupancy room, where three boys lived, it started out just like every other weekend night when you weren’t quite old enough to venture across the street to the delis (bars, for those who did not attend W&M).

And then, everything changed.

The door swung open and two more people managed to wiggle their way into the mosh pit-esqe room. I vividly remember seeing him for the first time: tan, athletic, blue eyes and big smile. He greeted my friends and I returned to a conversation with the girl sitting next to me.

A few moments later, I heard, “Excuse me,” and looked-up just in time to see this stranger making room for himself between my friend and me, forcing someone else off the end of the futon.

“Hi, I’m Mike,” he said with a warm smile.

It was refreshing. No bad pick-up lines, no meaningless compliment, no sloppy drunkenness.

“Hi, I’m Allie.”

Since then, our relationship has been tested plenty of times: two years of long-distance awfulness, the trials of moving in together and the stressors that come with growing from college students to adults.

But we’ve grown together, learned a lot and built a relationship that I can no longer imagine not having in my life.

He still makes me draw in a deep breath when I see him walk into a room. He has changed everything I thought I knew about love and relationships – they should be warm, easy and fulfilling, just like our weekend morning breakfasts.

Happy four years, Mike. I think I like like you too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Princess Birthday Cake

This past week I created a cake for a co-worker's friend's birthday party.

The design was much more whimsical than ones I have previously completed. But it was colorful and fun, incorporating a tiara, wand, royal icing pearls and butterflies.

The flavors were chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Mike is in love with the food truck scene in New York City. His co-workers ask for advice and reviews of the various trucks inhabiting Midtown during the week. He has memorized the schedule of most of these trucks.

But the Street Sweets Truck, which I also love, is parked outside Mike's building almost everyday of the week.

The problem?

The owner - a pretty, petite, friendly Italian woman - bakes amazing Macarellas, a layer of Nutella sandwiched between two thin coconut cookies. They are divine.

Mike also thinks they are divine. I don't necessarily feel threatened, but I don't want to take any chances when it comes to olive-skinned ladies who can make delicious baked goods.

So when Mike came home Friday evening, a long week of work and studying behind him and more studying on tap for the weekend, he was welcomed with my version of a chocolate coconut macaroon, complete with a fresh pot of French-press coffee.

Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brioche Rolls

Among other kitchen related items, my sister gave me sea salt for Christmas.

I love sea salt.

I especially love sea salt on these fresh brioche rolls, just pulled from the toasty oven.

A thin (okay, okay not-so-thin) smear of Nutella is just about all that is needed here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Rub the Butter into the Flour"

If you have done any baking in your life, you have undoubtedly come across a recipe that instructs you to “rub the butter into the flour”.

This is a required step for the bacon-cheddar biscuits I shared with my family over my mini-Christmas vacation. My mother let out a groan when she saw me doing this and asked if she could just do this in the food processor.

Yes, of course you can.

But – why would you want to?

Of all the steps and tedious tasks required of someone who has chosen a career in pastry, this is by far my favorite.

Of all the progress that has been made with ingredients and techniques and machines, my hands can still create something better.

My own two hands.

I thought of this as I spent just over an hour last week in the restaurant, rubbing the butter into the flour mixture for all the scones to be given away at the restaurant’s New Year’s Eve dinner.

It was basic, primitive almost.

I had survived another long day at my day/desk job. At various points throughout the day, I wanted to cry or throw my hands up in the air and yell, “I quit!” This is not an uncommon occurance.

But standing here, looking at my hands dusted beautifully in flour, I was relaxed.

There isn’t a food processor in the world that can offer that same sense of comfort.

Sorry Mummy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year

The ringing in of a New Year brings so much hope, promise and happiness.

I have found I am not really the type of person to make resolutions for the year ahead. Instead, I see each day as an opportunity to resolve to become a better version of myself. I would not want to wait an entire year to have to resolve to make such changes.

Instead, I see the New Year as an opportunity to appreciate how I grew in the previous year and focus my attention on the year ahead.

I continued to learn a lot about myself last year.

I learned I am not the type of person to sit idle when I am unhappy.

I learned my body can survive on not much sleep, but lots of caffeine.

I learned I am stronger and more persistent than I thought. I learned my heart and mind will move me forward when my legs quit. I learned that tears and pain are no match for the feeling of crossing the finish line.

I learned a lazy weekend morning, complete with a homemade breakfast, full pot of coffee and loved one by my side is not only rejuvenating, but also sometimes the only thing that gets me through a long week.

I learned I like me with less makeup. I learned I like me even if I am pale.

I learned that because I had finally learned to love myself, I could demand people love me for me.

And I learned I was incredibly fortunate to already be surrounded by this unconditional love.

Not bad for one year.

Looking ahead, there are some big changes on the horizon. And for the first time ever, I have absolutely no idea what the next twelve months hold for me.

I know precisely three things about the coming year:

First, in eight weeks, I will complete my pastry externship. With my degree in hand, I am hoping to be able to move full-time into the world of pastry following my externship.

A career change will bring much more satisfaction, but it will also bring terrible hours and lower pay. None of the negative aspects are unexpected, they were all considered in their own right as I made the decision to enroll in pastry school. But they still bring some worry to me as I look ahead.

Second, just a few weeks after I complete my externship, I will turn 24. I know 24 is not that old. I know I have many years, many lessons ahead of me. But I can’t help but feel a little strange about this upcoming birthday.

Why? I don’t really know. I can’t put it into words. Twenty-four sounds adult to me. It sounds like you should have your ducks-in-a-row.

Finally, I will endure four months of hard training in order to run the NYC Marathon in November.

And that’s it. I don’t know what else to expect.

Unsettling? Of course. Exciting? Most definitely.

Happy 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

May the year ahead bring much health and happiness to you all.
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