Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cinnamon rolls

When my children were little, I'd often give them a cookbook for Christmas. I'd pick out something colorful and interesting that would catch their eye with age-appropriate recipes.

It had been a few years since I gave a cookbook, but "Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat" caught my eye at the bookstore last month, and I bought a copy for Anna.

We've had fun flipping through the thin volume of recipes tested and tasted by teenage sisters Megan and Jill Carle and pointing out things we want to try: Roman apple coffee cake, fried apple rings, potato skins, wonton soup and vegetable lasagna, for starters.

The recipes each have a photograph along with commentary with one of the two girls telling a little about the dish with a tip or two for making it. For instance, Megan says to be careful not to overcook the fresh egg noodles in the vegetable lomein recipe. Jill notes that toffee bars were the first thing she ever learned to bake.

Anna and I had a hard time choosing which recipe to try first last week when she was still home for Christmas vacation, but we settled on a recipe for cinnamon rolls that doesn't require yeast. Megan, a vegetarian, had learned the method while visiting Germany as an exchange student. I was a little surprised to see one of the main ingredients in this recipe is cottage cheese. The recipe also calls for 2 tablespoons of baking powder. That's right, tablespoons.

I tried to streamline the recipe some by using my mixer instead of the food processor or blender recommended to puree the cottage cheese. It didn't work. I learned from these two young cooks that my food processor, small as it is, did the job of mixing ingredients for these rolls.

We really didn't think ahead when we were making the rolls that it would take a large area to roll them out, so we made a mess. Learn from our mistake and spread out when you make this recipe.

Our cinnamon rolls were in the oven in about 30 minutes from the time we started prepping the ingredients and making the dough. We were eating hot-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls in just over an hour from when we started. Pretty amazing. Even more amazing? They are delicious. No, they do not have a wonderful yeasty aroma, but they did smell heavenly cooking on a cold winter afternoon.

Cinnamon Rolls
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 1/4 cups flour, divided and more flour, for dusting
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter*
  • 1/2 cup honey*
Preheat oven to 325.

Place the cottage cheese in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the sugar, eggs, oil and milk and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the baking powder. Add 3 1/2 cups of the flour and stir until the mixture forms a dough. Using your hands, add the remaining 3/4 cup flour a little at a time by sprinkling a little flour over the dough and folding the dough over to mix it in. Repeat this process until the dough is smooth and not sticky. (You may not need all the flour.).

Spread a thin layer of flour on a flat surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 20X25 inches.

To prepare the filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt the butter and brush over the entire surface of the dough. Drizzle the honey over the butter, then sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough. Starting on the longer side, carefully roll up the dough as tightly as possible.

Lightly butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking pan.

Using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 1 1/4 inch thick slices with a sawing motion. If you press down while cutting the dough it will smash together and lose the "roll" effect.

Arrange the cinnamon rolls in the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until done. (To check for doneness, pull up slightly on the center of one of the rolls in the middle of the pan. The dough should pull apart. If it stretches, it needs to cook more.)

Remove from oven, run an knife around the edges to loosen the cinnamon rolls, and invert onto a serving platter.

*I used 1/4 cup butter and much less than 1/2 cup honey.

"Teens Cook"

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