Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls isn’t really by any measure a healthy breakfast, but somehow this carbohydrate bomb managed to enter the canon of breakfast foods. I suspect it’s because it’s so fun to eat. Who doesn’t like eating the cinnamon roll by unwrapping it toilet paper-esque? Okay, my metaphors and similes haven’t been very appetizing but my words embody my feelings towards cinnamon rolls – nay, the whole plethora of desserts!

They are so fun to eat, and the soft fluffiness of the bread and caramelly cinnamon-sugar glaze simply brings you to a state of unadulterated, comforting pleasure. Furthermore, its inherent playfulness makes eating a tactile experience as well. Ok, I’m done with the romanticizing. Onto the recipe now. Some things to note: the roll without the glaze isn’t terribly sweet, so if you want your desserts to be unabashedly sweet, be sure to use the glaze or up the cinnamon-sugar mix. This recipe is also really easy for a yeast-bread one, since you can make it the night before and bake it in the morning for a freshly-baked and oh-so-sinful breakfast.

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 1 dozen rolls

2 large eggs
1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons – Domino Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter

Filling:
1/4 cup (2 oz) butter, melted
1/3 cup –Domino Brown Sugar (I used dark)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Domino® Granulated Sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Icing:
2 teaspoons melted butter
3/4 cup – Domino® Confectioners Sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons – milk

Beat eggs in medium size bowl. Add 3/4 cup warm water and yeast, stirring to dissolve yeast. Refrigerate mixture for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and sugar. With a pastry blender or fork, blend in butter, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually blend the mixtures together; it will be loose and a little sticky. Gather dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to bake, roll dough into an oblong shape (I made a rectangle of which was about 12 by 14) on a well-floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick.

In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll the dough up to form a jelly roll. With a serrated knife, cut the roll into 1-inch slices. Place on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise in a warm place about 30 minutes. Generously sprinkle with the granulated sugar (I skipped this step). Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow rolls to cool slightly on wire racks placed over wax paper.

To make Icing, mix the melted butter confectioners’ sugar and milk together until smooth. Drizzle icing over rolls and serve.

Tip from Domino:
Rolls can be wrapped in aluminum foil and individually frozen. To serve, heat in a pre-heated 350°F oven 5 minutes.

Tip from Cookie Madness:
You can freeze the spirals of dough. Just cut the jelly roll into rounds, arrange however many you need for the occasion, then put the remaining dough in the freezer to solidify. When dough spirals are firm, put them in an air-tight freezer bag. The next time you want to make cinnamon rolls, arrange the frozen dough spirals in the pan the night before, let them rise overnight, then wake up and bake.

Curry Rolls


I’m always inspired by bread baskets I get at restaurants. More often than not, they serve a crusty artisan bread with butter or olive oil. However, there’s always the odd place that realizes that the complimentary bread basket is a great way to go above and beyond. I got an extremely outstanding bread basket at Public, and the one most memorable bread was their chipotle and cranberry roll. The bread flavors are apparently experimental and vary from day to day, so I’m glad that I was there that day. And that bun was what really inspired me. The bread was soft, sweet and fluffy, but had a hint of spice from the chipotle. And that’s what inspired my curry buns.


A basic sweet dinner roll recipe with curry powder, they turned out amazing. Extremely soft and fluffy and sweet, and also harbored a slight hint of curry. They taste delicious on its own, but might be interesting with fried Spam (mmmm fried Spam) or as a way to sop up stew sauces.


I used some egg wash to give it a glossy coat, but I didn’t have a pastry brush, so I did what I could with a fork. Alas, the plight of a college baker. Also, I kinda haphazardly shaped the balls. I’m pretty sure there’s a proper technique to it but I did whatever I felt like.

Curry Rolls
Makes 16
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder.
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

Directions

1. Nuke water and milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds and mix sugar in till dissolved. Add yeast to mixture and let yeast bloom.
2. In the yeast mixture, mix in the salt, curry powder butter and egg. Mix flour in half cup at a time. Knead dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test. If you can stretch a small amount of the dough until it becomes a translucent sheet (just about 1.5 inches wide is fine), then it’s ready.
3. Let it rise for about 60 minutes in a bowl covered loosely with a kitchen towel, until the dough doubles.
4. Punch it down, divided it into 16 balls and let it rise for another hour. (I realized it’s easiest to section the dough by using a pair of scissors.)
5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 F.

Bagels


Bagels are one of the many specific things that I have cravings for. I have never actually had a bagel before I came to New York City. My first encounter with bagels were in the dining hall, where they mostly looked quite unappetizing. However, bagels have grown on me since then, and my favorite varieties include pumpernickel and poppy seed. (Did you know poppy seed is contraband in Singapore?) As with any baked item that I like to eat, I like trying to replicate them too. To be honest, this is probably the best picture of the bagels I took. The rest are not quite as pretty:

Craggy, and malformed by the cooling rack and my use of chopsticks to lift the bagels instead of a slatted spoon. Sigh. I thought I could do it Chinese-style like so:

This is Hum Jin Peng, or 咸煎饼. It’s like a donut with red bean filling or five spice flavoring.

But obviously that didn’t bode so well for the soft dough. This batch was actually my second attempt. In my first attempt, I used half whole wheat flour and my dough did not rise at all. I ended up with a slab of tough, unusable dough that I made into “flatbread” and spread some dulce de leche on, but it was otherwise the most unappetizing failure I’ve ever made.

Fortunately, despite the looks of this batch, they actually came out pretty well. They were chewy and had a nice crust, and definitely went very well with my smoked salmon. You might notice my lack of cream cheese, but I am generally averse to slathering fat — fat that I can see — onto my food, but I am perfectly happy with eating cake when I can’t see the stick of butter that went into the frosting.

Bagels
Makes 6 3-inch wide bagels
Adapted from Allrecipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white sugar

Directions:
1. In large bowl, combine 3/4 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then, by hand, mix in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (12-15 minutes). Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Cut into 6 portions, shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.
5. When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once. Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Bun

If you don’t know my baking style by now, I’ll have you know that I am generally very much a fuss-free baker. I don’t accessorize my baked goods much. If I could get away with not frosting a cake, I could – not having an electric mixer really makes the process a lot more labor-intensive. Therefore, my coconut cocktail buns had to deal without having a glossy egg wash too.

Chinese baked buns are generally glazed with an egg wash, and sometimes have a crusty shortening topping too. This one in particular actually has an interesting explanation to its nomenclature. The reason why it’s called a cocktail bun is because its filling was a way for bakers to use up old buns. They would create a blended “cocktail” of old buns, sugar and some shredded coconut and make it into a filling for new buns to sell the next day.

Here’s a cross-section of the bun. Bread is one of those things that’s easy to make but hard to perfect. My bread had a good sweet taste to it, but certainly lacked the fluffiness and “compressability” that bakery buns have. I don’t really know what I did wrong, but dense bread is typically attributed to too much flour and/or not enough kneading. The filling recipe I used also created a more chewy than creamy filling, so if you don’t like the mouth-feel of shredded coconut, feel free to give it a whirl in the food processor. (Which I don’t have! Alas, such is the plight of a college baker.)

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Bun
Bread recipe from Allrecipes; filling recipe from About
Makes 8 buns

Dough
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup milk (I used skim and it turned out okay)
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed

Filling (makes enough for 7 buns – be creative with the last bun’s filling!)
1 1/3 cups (325 ml) coconut flakes (I used sweetened angel flake coconut and omitted the sugar)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) hard margarine or butter, melted
1 large egg yolk

1. Place 1/3 cup sugar and milk in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup softened butter, and gently warm the mixture until the butter melts and the mixture is warm but not hot (no warmer than about 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the yeast with 2 1/2 cups flour until well blended, and pour the milk mixture into the flour-yeast mixture. Stir in 1 beaten egg, and mix until the mixture forms a sticky, wet dough.
2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, gradually kneading in 1 cup of additional flour or as needed to make a smooth, elastic dough. Form the dough into a round ball, place into an oiled bowl, and turn the dough around in the bowl a few times to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Coconut Filling: Process coconut and sugar in blender or food processor until very fine. Turn into small bowl. Stir in margarine and egg yolk until paste-like consistency. Makes scant 2/3 cup (150 ml) filling.
4. Working on a floured surface, punch down the dough, and cut into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece into 8 equal-sized pieces (16 pieces total). Form each piece into an oblong bun, and flatten the bun with a floured rolling pin. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a spoon, and place in the center of a bun. Pull and pinch the edges of the dough together to enclose the filling in the bun. Repeat with all dough pieces, and place the filled buns, seam sides down, onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover the buns with a cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place 1 hour.
5. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Bake in the preheated oven until the buns are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

P.S. Feel free to freeze it once it has cooled to preserve the texture of the buns. Baked goods generally aren’t affected by freezing and really helps preventing bread from going stale.