Sticky Buns

If there is anything more comforting than homemade cinnamon rolls or sticky buns, I would like to know what it is. Like, right now. Because nothing I have ever made comes even close to the warm, spicy enveloping feeling of a mug of hot coffee and these buns. It’s like a snuggly blanket for your soul. Note: I did not say snuggie. Because eww.

As with many delicious and heavily carbohydrated things, it’s all starts with Joanna’s five minute bread. If you haven’t already, read the first four steps, as they will give you the bread of your dreams, and they will also bring you up to the place where we’ll start the sticky bun recipe. For the sake of clarity, however, I’ve listed all the ingredients and steps in this entry, too. And because I’m nice like that.

If you have time to make this in the morning, it would be the best morning ever, but it also makes for a very happy afternoon snack, dessert, or as a method of wriggling into the hearts of your roommates forever and ever. No snuggies necessary.

STICKY BUNS

Ingredients:

. Three cups lukewarm water

. One and a half tablespoons granulated yeast (two yeast packets from the grocery)

. One tablespoon salt

. Six and a half cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

. Up to one cup of brown sugar

. Two tablespoons cinnamon

. One half cup butter

. Confectioners sugar, for sifting

Instructions:

1. Mix the yeast and water in a big mixing bowl – the biggest you have – and let it rest while you measure out the flour and salt.

2. Mix in flour and salt until everything is fully combined. You can do this in a KitchenAid mixer, or by hand.

3. Cover the dough in Saran wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least two hours, but up to five is fine.

4. While your dough is rising, mix the sticky bun filling, which is, like so many other things on this blog, a mixture of the heart and of the preference, more than a mixture of the measurements. Cream together butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until well combined and spreadable, adding more spice or sugar to taste, and more butter if you need more to work with. It’s not exact, which is what I love about cooking. If you do not love that about cooking, this may not be the blog for you, and for that I do not apologize, but I do propose that perhaps we go have a drink sometime? You seem nice. We could still be friends.

5. Uncover the dough. By now, it should have risen a considerable amount and be sticky, wet, and quite stretchy. If it isn’t, move it to a warmer spot and let it continue to rise.

6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating, roll the dough out into a large circle, of medium thickness. Remember, you don’t want sad, overly thin, anorexic buns, but they also need to be small enough to fit into a cupcake pan, which was a genius idea if I do say so myself.

7. Spread half the creamy filling across the dough, all the way to the edges. Then, roll it up into a large log, taking care not to flatten it.

8. Cut the dough log into bun sized increments.

9. Spread the remaining half of the filling into each indentation in the cupcake pan. If you were to do this in a pie pan, or a large cake pan even (the normal way to do sticky buns), you would just spread the filling across the bottom of the pan and group the buns together so they stick, both to the filling, and to each other. At the time of bun making, my pans were otherwise engaged, so I thought popping them into a cupcake pan would be both workable and tidy! Turns out, I was right. My favorite thing.

10. Drop the buns into the pans and bake for 15 minutes. My oven runs hot, and our buns were on the petite side, so just pay attention the first time you do this to know what precise time works for you.

11. Done buns should be bubbling and well coated in the filling, which by now, has risen up and over the tops of the buns to glaze it in a beautiful caramel color. They should not be burning however, so again, just pay attention. Put down the wine glass, woman/man/person who is cooking right now! Glossy and bubbly, not burnt or too brown.

12. Sift confectioners sugar over the top and serve with hot coffee or a cup of tea.

Delicious, no? Yes!

Lemon Curd

You guys. YOU. GUYS. Prepare to have your world rocked. Is all I’m saying.

Let’s start at the beginning. Remember this week? Lemon yellow? All things sunshiney and good? I had the best of intentions to make lemon curd that week because it just made sense, but with work and rehearsals and special events, it didn’t happen. So I waited and waited, and the fog became foggier and foggier, until I just couldn’t take the crappy SF weather anymore. And so, in honor of fashion week – and all its crazy colors! –  I’m so excited to present sunshine in a jar, ie, lemon curd.

Most recipes call for straining the curd, while simultaneously saying that your lemon curd should be “satiny” smooth. Satin-like seems to be the major goal of lemon curd making, because everyone is all satin, satin, satiny, but somehow you are supposed to achieve this when mess, mess, messy straining is involved.

Negatory, ghost writer.

After not very much searching, I used this wonderful recipe, which called for zero straining, and instead, lots of straight up hand mixing. And that was just great.

So, behold: the satin, satin, satinyist lemon curd that you ever did see. Sunshine in a jar.

LEMON CURD

Ingredients:

. One cup of sugar

. Six tablespoons of butter

. Two eggs

. Two egg yolks

. 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (not juice out of that plastic lemon-shaped bottle, if you please)

. Pinch of zest, up to a teaspoon, if you like to be zesty. I do not.

Instructions:

1. Get all your ingredients together first. This recipe calls for some fast mixing, and it won’t do to try and yolk your eggs or juice your lemons halfway through the process.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar, add in the eggs and yolks slowly. Once it’s fairly well blended (about a minute), add the lemon juice and beat for a few more minutes. It will be: runny and chunky. Do not be: alarmed. We will fix it.

3. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan over low heat and let it cook until it smooths out. Caveat: mine never totally smoothed in this step, which is okay.

4. Turn up to medium (never high – this should never boil) and begin stirring continuously. Yep, just keeeep stirring. The recipe says to stir continuously for 15 minutes, and some of the commenters said they only stirred for five, but I stirred for a whopping 35 minutes continuously (I know, I’m tired too). I think the key is to not let it be too hot, and to use your best judgement. When the curd is thick enough to stick to the back of a wooden spoon, you’ve done it.

5. Pour it into a jar or bowl, cover with saran wrap so a skin doesn’t form, and refrigerate. It will continue to gel as it cools.

6. Eat it. Preferably in a pie or on a scone, but if you’re a true Suzy Fat Pants like I am, you might just attack it with a spoon. And that, my friends, is just great.

Badass Bread

People of the world! Prepare to be excited, for I have for you an amazing recipe for artisan bread, in your very own kitchen, in five minutes. Give or take about two hours of rise time, which is practically nothing. You can do so much in two hours, after all, like go for a run, take a nap, finish that book you’ve been attempting to finish forever (ahemgabrielgarciamarquezIamlookingatyou) or just drink tea in your adirondack chairs with a good friend. Which is maybe what I did.

That good friend happens to be my good friend Joanna, who taught me how to make badass bread in five minutes. No small feat, considering baking is typically a little too precise for my skill set. I prefer to eyeball and leave the baking to my scientist boyfriend. But, Julie Powell had to de-bone her duck and I have to bake every now and again.

We will hear more from Joanna later this week, but for now, bring on the carbohydrates! Which our culture has taught us to hate, or at least fear, for all sorts of bad things they allegedly do to you. But people. Just this once, let’s be French, oui? Let’s eat bread and drink wine and spend long Sundays with our good friends and not worry about anything else all day – least of all what that delicious bread is doing to our waistlines. And if not all day, at least for two hours and five minutes.

BADASS BREAD AKA, FIVE MINUTE BREAD

Ingredients:

. Three cups lukewarm water

. One and a half tablespoons granulated yeast (two yeast packets from the grocery)

. One tablespoon salt

. Six and a half cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

 

Instructions:

1. Mix the yeast and water in a big mixing bowl – the biggest you have – and let it rest while you measure out the flour and salt.

2. Mix in flour and salt until everything is fully combined. You can do this in a KitchenAid mixer if you are so lucky as to be in possession of one, but I have been operating under the (perhaps mis)apprehension that one does not have a KitchenAid mixer until one is married and gets a mixer as a wedding present from some eccentric, yet well-to-do relative you haven’t seen in several years. And since one is not currently married and knows most of one’s relatives extremely well, one mixed by hand. Or rather, two did. Perhaps it’s because we are “vigilantes and paupers” in the words of Joanna, and we like to do things Laura Ingalls Wilder style. Either way, mixy mix!

3. Cover the dough in Saran wrap and let it rest at room temperature for two hours, but up to five is fine if you are just too too into your tea drinking. Yes, this is a vital step in the process – both the rising of the dough and the drinking of the tea.

4. Peel back the Saran wrap and survey the scene. You’ll see your dough has risen a considerable amount and you couldn’t knead it if you wanted to, which is great, since you won’t be doing any of that. It should be wet, sticky, and nice and stretchy. If it isn’t any of these things, rest it for longer, and perhaps move it to a slightly warmer spot. We used a sunny spot on the dining room table.


5. Preheat the oven to 450. Shake some flour over the top of the dough and pull out as much as you’d like and shape as desired. We made a traditional loaf in a breadpan. See?


6. Let the dough rest for five minutes, and then place it in the over over a baking pan full of water. It seems odd, but the steam from the water will condensate in the oven and give your bread the perfect crispy crust it must have if it is to be the bread of your dreams. This is so vitally important, this pan of water, that I will show you an ugly picture of my oven just to prove my point.

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size, until it’s golden brown and crisp on the outside. Let it rest outside the oven for about ten minutes before slicing in.

8. That’s it! You eat it! With lemon curd, Nutella, raspberry jam, as a sandwich, or just by itself because hello. That’s badass bread.

Thanks, Joanna!