WHAT I'M DOING
- Booking a ferry trip for Sunday afternoon. Orient Point --> New London. I'll drive the winding roads up past Hartford, then cross into Massachusetts. My heart will constrict when I pass the Vermont state line, then slowly settle into calm contentedness with each mile that brings me closer to Norwich and its tiny general store and quiet roads and New England style.
- Trying to figure out what to add to a wedding registry. There is so much china in the world! Do I need a decanter? I've gotten by just fine without one, but suddenly I feel bereft and as if I cannot go another day as a human adult without a crystal one. What is happening to me. (Can I register for a lifetime worth of warm, puffy, just-baked pita bread from the little Hummus Place shop below my apartment? Just kidding. Sort of.)
WHAT I'M WEARING
- Haha, you didn't ask what I was wearing, now did you?! Well, you're here, so I might as well tell you. The softest Eberjey pajama set in a delicate blue with white piping. Honestly, if I have one bit of advice about life, I'd say buy yourself some nice (comfortable! but adorable!) pajamas. I always change into a different set (these or this) before bed, because dinner PJs and sleepy PJs are obviously two different animals.
WHAT I'M DRINKING
- Oh, is it not a given at this point that I am drinking something at home? Well, I am. Mazel tov! A glass of prosecco with a splash (generous splash? dare I say a glug?) of cassis. Try it, trust me.
WHAT I'M EATING
- A bowl of pumpkin Puffins cereal and a frozen cookie dough ball. Usually I’ll make a big batch of cookie dough every two weeks or so, scoop it out in large dollops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze it. I transfer the frozen balls to a big ziplock bag and keep them stashed in the freezer to either bake off for warm cookies or, as we like to do in our household, eat them frozen for dessert. Lately I've been using this recipe for brown butter chocolate chip cookie dough, but skipping the nuts and adding 2 cups of rolled oats to the dough. I also often add unsweetened shredded coconut, cacao nibs, and whatever type of chocolate I have on hand (semisweet chips, chopped bittersweet, etc.).
WHAT I'M READING
- Still deep into "Greenglass House" by Kate Milford. Such an incredibly comforting book; it makes me feel like I'm eight again, in the nicest way possible.
- These lines by Mary Oliver:
I don’t want to lose a single thread
from the intricate brocade of this happiness.
I want to remember everything.
Which is why I’m lying awake, sleepy
but not sleepy enough to give it up.
Just now, a moment from a year ago:
the early morning light, the deft, sweet
gesture of your hand
reaching for me.
WHAT I'M BAKING
This week, I tested a few recipes for work that needed new photography. Testing older recipes doesn't usually blow my mind--sure, I’ll expect them to taste good, and be solid, workable, friendly recipes. But this particular one is unusually great in both flavor and ease: It's a single-rise, big-batch cinnamon roll recipe.
Not only does it make a ridiculous amount (okay, fine, two 9" round pans and a 9" x 13" pan) of rolls, but using rapid rise yeast means you only need to let it rise for an hour.
Just mix up the dough, then shape without letting it rise. (Side note: It's a very soft, buttery dough so it's really easy to press out without needing a rolling pin or any extra flour...it doesn't stick at all! If you find it's sticking, you need to add more flour to your dough.)
Once you've pressed the dough into a rectangle, filled it with butter and cinnamon sugar, rolled it up, sliced it, and placed it in the pan, you let it rise for an hour until puffy. Here is where you take a shower, fold the laundry, and make oatmeal for breakfast, etc. Then you bake the rolls. Mix up the super quick and easy frosting, slather it all over the rolls, and feed ONLY YOURSELF or, you know, everyone you know. Whatever suits your fancy.
Single-Rise Frosted Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from King Arthur Flour; makes about a million rolls
For the dough
7 1/2 to 8 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 envelopes rapid rise yeast (not regular instant!)
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
For the filling
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons softened butter
For the frosting
6 tablespoons softened butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
4 tablespoons milk
splash of bourbon, optional
For the dough: Combine 3 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl.
Heat the milk, water, and butter until very warm/hot and stir to melt the butter.
Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture, along with the eggs.
Beat for 2 minutes (it'll be more like a batter at this point still). Add enough flour to make a soft dough--it shouldn't be too sticky but it should be soft. You may even need slightly more flour, just add it gradually and keep kneading until you achieve the proper texture.
Knead the dough until smooth, at least 5 minutes in a stand mixer and 10 minutes if kneading by hand.
Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, press the dough into a large rectangle, about 10" x 15".
Make the filling by whisking together the sugar and cinnamon. Spread half of the softened butter for the filling over each rectangle, then divide the cinnamon sugar evenly over both rectangles.
Roll up each rectangle, starting with the long side nearest you, into a long log. Using a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss, slice each log into 1 1/2" pieces. Each log should yield about 12 rolls.
Grease two 9" round cake pans, and one 9" x 13" pan. Transfer the slices into the pans. (You can also do two 9" x 13" pans or four 9" round pans.)
Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the rolls for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for at least 10 minutes before frosting.
Make the frosting by beating together all the frosting ingredients. Add more vanilla if you like that flavor, and a splash of bourbon is not a bad idea.
Spread the frosting on the rolls. Eat.