Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lazy Cinnamon Rolls

I mentioned how I've been reading Well Fed, Flat Broke pretty much nonstop. I also mentioned how I was planning on cooking something other than stir fry and crepes.
Well, I did.
One of my housemates shares my passion for trying new recipes and for cooking weird things as a form of procrastination. Interestingly enough, we appear to have about the same BMI of "not as good as it should be".
I wonder why.
Anyway, we've been plotting to make cinnamon rolls, but we don't have yeast. Well, we do, but it's in my other refrigerator and it's been too rainy to walk to it without catching my death of cold, and so no pizza or cinnamon rolls.
And then I found the recipe for Horses' Arses. I named the post "Lazy Cinnamon Rolls" instead because I can't quite make myself like the name. It's hilarious, true, but they're too delicious to think of as horse butts. So, after making sure that I have enough flour to complete the operation and keep feeding my sourdough (possible name: Turner or Scott, after Turner and Hooch, since my starter seems to be perpetually accompanied by the hoochy stuff on top) for at least a week, I decided to make me some fluffy baking powder dough and cover it with some sugary goodness. I was also going to photograph the whole process, but that fell apart. I'm a free spirit when I cook. I can't be bothered to pause every step to take pictures.
Still, I did try.
Step one: Take the sourdough starter out of your oven and turn off the oven light. No need to waste electricity.
Step two: preheat.
Then I give up on steps. I hate steps, unless it's for something like a chocolate torte where you really want things in the right order, and getting those eggs whipped before you start the chocolate melting is a really, really good idea.
I write all my recipes down on notecards. Being a student means I can't afford cookbooks for the most part and that I don't have time to memorize recipes (or look them up online, which is untrue).
 So, I mixed flour, salt, baking powder, white sugar, and butter together, without really getting all the butter smooshed into everything. I actually used a margarine spread that one of my housemates' former housemate had abandoned. It's a huge tub, and she put it on the communal shelf. Also, do I look like I'm made of butter? I've been hoarding mine for the past month, it feels like.
And then I get a chance to use it and chicken out.
After getting the buttery stuff mixed into the dry ingredients, I added the milk. It went better than expected.

Look! A rare in-progress photo! Don't startle it, you may never see one again in your life! Also, if anyone wants to donate mixing bowls to poor, lazy students, we're in your area even if you're at the south pole. That's a casserole dish of some sort that probably isn't oven safe. We have nothing smaller except for a silicone "cupcake" cake pan.

I ended up with a sweet, light dough that was impressively sticky. Happily, things don't stick very well to silicone spatulas, so invest. Trusty spatulas will get you through anything. I made snickerdoodles with this puppy, and I don't have a mixer. Anyway, the lazy cinnamon roll dough was amiable enough to kneading with a minimal layer of dough adhering to my hands, and rolled out into a neat rectangle pretty handily as well.I melted some of my own butter (margarine, Blue Bonnet, to be exact) and poured it over the dough. This was not a problem until I let a little bit of it get too close to the edge and it spilled over the side and stuck the dough in that area firmly to the cutting board.
I moved on and covered the butter-covered dough in brown sugar. I used a little too much. Just a light coating will do, not a quarter-inch-thick layer. Then I sprinkled liberally with cinnamon, and lightly with ground cloves and nutmeg. I would have used allspice if I could have found it. It's been so rainy here that I seem to think that it's november.
Then, with minimal swearing, I rolled up the rectangle. It ended up being a log about a foot and a half long. I technically got 14, possibly 15 1-inch thick slices out of it, but one (technically two) was (were; it's the tall pale thing in the picture of the pan) mangled and gooey with butter and the other was delicious. It wouldn't have fit anyway.
This is a good time to tell you to grease your pan always when the recipe calls for it. I did, and it was good because there was so much sugar in these babies that it formed a very nearly solid layer on the bottom of the pan. And all over the sides. This is why I suggest less brown sugar. I bet molasses, golden syrup, honey, or agave would work as well, but I don't have any of those, much less any of them in a great enough quantity to smear on lazy dough.

It seems like it should be delicious, but it's really not. The nutmeg and cloves really add a kick the the flavor, though. I always recommend them.
 Next, I popped my pan of lazy cinnamon rolls into the oven in a self-congratulatory manner. I never bake things that require this much prep. The most prep I go for is snickerdoodles, and that's a rare thing.
Then, I remembered that I wanted to photograph this thing. So I opened the oven about five minutes in and just look at that melting sugar.


This is even more beautiful. Did you know that letting the rolls sit and cool actually makes them better? I have a hunch that they'll also be better if reheated, since that might melt down the sugar crystals.
Just as a reminder, the recipe is Horses' Arses from Well Fed, Flat Broke.
 Incidentally, it's time to plug my favorite book ever. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is visible in the picture of my beautiful cinnamon roll picture. You should read it. It's full of british humor. That copy, bought used but in great condition from amazon two years ago, is considerably more battered now than it was then. It goes well with everything, and, like fancy wine that I can't afford and probably wouldn't appreciate anyway, gets better with age.

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