Monday, January 07, 2008

Snow, Minnows, Champagne, and Cinnamon Rolls

I've spent quite a bit of time on this blog talking about my home in Northern Michigan and since I just got back from being snowed in over the holidays, I thought I'd share some pictures with you.

One of the best things to do in Northern Michigan during the winter is to go ice fishing. Of course, you need two things for a good afternoon of ice fishing: minnows and some form of alcohol. Normally that alcohol takes the form of beer and in my neck of the woods in Northern Michigan that means Labatt Blue. Of course, if you really want to do it up right and you have a really fancy ice shanty, you can take something fancier than beer out to the shanty!

On one of the afternoon as the sun began to peak through the clouds and after a particularly beautiful morning of snow, I decided to take my snowshoes out for a little walk in the woods.

I hadn't been snowshoeing in a few years and the first step or two were quite interesting as I forgot you really can't walk heel/toe or you plant yourself with one leg in a very awkward position. But once I got back in the rhythm, it was a pleasant way to spend some time in the woods after a big snowstorm. I especially love to be out in the woods behind our cottage when we have the type of snow that just clings to the pine trees.

Walking up this road always reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken"

When I was growing up, we bought a small lakeside cottage just down the road from our main house. We would spend time there to get away from the "Big House" during the summer and fall. It was like going on vacation but we really didn't have to go far. Now that all us kids have grown up and moved out, my folks use the cottage as a guest house. It is perfect because it is located about a 1/4 of a mile from the "Big House" down the dirt road that goes between the little lake the cottage is on and Lake Huron where the "Big House" is located. Close enough to the folks that it only takes about three minutes to get from the cottage to their house but far enough away that when you need to make an escape, you can. It is here that I stay when I visit my folks.

The cottage has all the things I need: a small bedroom downstairs, a tiny bathroom with a shower only, a sleeping loft, a wood burning stove, and big windows and sliding glass doors overlooking the little lake. There is a small deck out front that has two Adirondack chairs a dear family friend made for us

and a bigger deck out back that you can sunbathe in the buff during the summer if you want since there is nothing but state forest behind the cottage. Best of all the cottage has a cozy little kitchen that is perfect to putter around in when I am home.

Complete with darling little glass faced cabinets, under which I can look through the front room and out onto the lake.

I've spent many hours in this kitchen perfecting various recipes over the years. One of those recipes is my personal cinnamon roll recipe.

A few weeks ago, after our big Cinnabon Smackdown, a few of you wrote me and asked if I would share my cinnamon roll recipe with you since even after the Cinnabon and Daring Baker rolls, I mentioned I still preferred mine.

Every time I make them, I think about working on the recipe in the kitchen in the little cottage by the lake in the woods...

Breadchick's Cottage Cinnamon Rolls

Make 24 large rolls

9 oz warm water (70 - 85 degrees)
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup AP flour

Combine ingredients in a 4 qt glass bowl and let sit in a warm, draft free place for 30 minutes to one hour.

3 Tbsp melted butter
1 large egg
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup powdered milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup bread flour
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup AP flour

Add melted butter, egg, and instant yeast to sponge and stir until combined completely. Add powdered milk, salt, bread flour and 1 cup of the AP flour. Combine completely. On lightly floured counter, turn out dough and knead; adding remaining flour on spoonful at a time until dough is soft and slightly sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Knead for 5 more minutes, adding additional flour if needed. Dough should be soft and smooth but not clump to your hands. A little sticky is OK.

Place dough in greased 4 qt glass bowl, cover and let rise until double in warm place.

1 1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or cardamom (optional)
3/4 cup fine chopped nuts (optional)
dash salt

Combine and set aside

To form rolls: Grease two (2) 13" x 9" x 2" baking pans and set aside. Punch down risen dough and divide into two pieces. Place the piece you are not working with back in the bowl and cover so it won't form a dry skin. Roll out the piece you are working with into a 6" x 18" rectangle. Brush dough with water and sprinkle half of the filling onto the dough, and smooth filling with palm of your hand to evenly coat the rectangle, leaving a 1" edge along one long side of the dough. Working from the long side of the rectangle the filling comes to the very edge of, roll the dough. Brush the bare dough border with water, pull over the top of the dough roll and pinch to form a seal. Roll the dough roll over so the seam is facing down on the counter and using dental floss or thick embroidery floss, slice into rolls about 1 1/2" thick. Place into a prepared 13" x 9" pan with about 1 1/2" between each roll. Repeat process with other half dough. Note: depending on how much your dough has risen, you may have enough to need one additional smaller pan. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rise until rolls touch each other and the side of the pans; about 1 hour.

To Bake Rolls: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place rolls in the oven and bake 20 - 25 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and slice between rolls to separate them and make removing them from the pans easier after they cool. Let them cool completely and then frost them with a glaze or frosting of your choice.