There are a few things that I successfully bake from time to time to please and shock the family; gingerbread, peach cobbler and cinnamon roll cupcakes.
I had sort of a bad day yesterday; de-snowing/icing the car, running up and down the road trying to find a debit card with a code I knew and suppressing a blood curdling scream when my fingers got tangled in the dog’s run line and she nearly tore off my hand. I had gone out to bring her in the house because I thought the weather was a little too inclement even for a dog with a good undercoat and insulated dog houses at each end of her run. Unappreciative, she bounced into the house, knocked my tripod with camera over twice, barked and whined until I had to leash her to the doorknob and put the bark-o-later around her neck. She sulked on her couch after throwing the cushion to the floor.
It always feels as if baking messes up the kitchen more than “normal” cooking does. It’s probably not true, but I feel that way.
I’m usually on friendly terms with yeast. Before using it in a recipe, I proof it in a little warm water stirred together with a pinch of sugar. I learned this in West Africa where there were no dates on the yeast cans. Good yeast will start to bubble up in large brown clumps like an underwater swamp monster assembling itself on the surface before slithering off to engulf something large and edible. Before it slithers, I add the other ingredients, flour last. This time I just stirred warm milk and sugar into the yeast and didn’t care. I don’t why I did this, but I do know that although the dough did rise, it didn’t rise as it should have.
I imagine that all serious bakers have baking rulers or something professional to measure the size of the rolled out dough. I had my husband’s handy dandy steel measuring tape that I attached to the edge of the island. Worked.
If after the cinnamon rolls have been cut, placed in the pan, covered and left for a second rising, they look like the picture below, you have disrespected the yeast. They should have doubled in size and puffed up in an aggressive, belligerent manner. The baked roll should rise from the papers, resembling a mini mountain with a road winding up from New Jalpaiguri, India to it’s destination of beautiful Darjeeling at the top. You could imagine the toy train, that does exist, making this journey as you bite into the buttery, cinnamon flavored, pecan crunchy roll and dream of white tigers, water buffaloes, spicy curries and the man who lights the fire in your room and places a hot water bottle between your bed sheets before you retire. Or not.
It’s sort of sad 😀