November 30, 2011

Cinnamon Buns


We've been wanting to make cinnamon buns forever, and there is a glorious looking recipe  in Peter Reinhart's The Breadbaker's Apprentice. Cinnamon buns might be one of the best things on earth. Even otherwise reasonable people are tempted by the smells of Cinnabon at malls and airports. There's just something completely irresistible about a sweet, yeasty dough filled with fragrant cinnamon and drizzled with a glaze (I'm calling it a glaze and not a frosting because this is a breakfast food, and I wouldn't want to make you think otherwise).

What kept us from making these tempting buns was the time required to prepare them. The dough needs to rise for two hours before you shape it into buns, then rise again in bun form for another hour and a half before they're ready to bake. We're not afraid of the occasional long preparation (wait for our forthcoming bolognese recipe), but if you want to eat these buns for breakfast, you'd have to get up at the crack of dawn to have them ready. And we are  afraid of waking up too early - especially on the weekends. However, we found a brilliant solution from Smitten Kitchen, who suggests freezing baked goods like scones after you've formed them but before you've baked them. Then you can remove them from the freezer and bake them at your leisure. After enjoying several weekends of being able to wake up and pop some scones in the oven, we thought that this might work just as well with cinnamon buns. And guess what? It did. 

November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Coffee Cake


This lovely little fall cake came together last spring, when we had half a can of pumpkin puree in the freezer, and some sour cream and cream cheese in the fridge that needed using up. Don't you love it when you have to bake something because otherwise, things would go bad, and you just can't let that happen. Just today, in fact, I had no choice but to make up a batch of these cream scones because I couldn't let the whipping cream that we'd bought go bad. Now there are 12 scones awaiting us in the freezer for a breakfast emergency.

But back to the coffee cake.  I realize that it's a bit silly that we waited until the fall to share it with you, since we used canned pumpkin which really is not exactly a seasonal item. But there's something really appealing about baking with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pumpkin during this season, even if the pumpkin comes from a can (it's available year round, I'm sure, but it's not until October that the grocery store starts featuring it at the ends of aisles, with big signs, suggesting that you bake something delicious).