Thursday, May 28, 2009

Easy Cinnamon Rolls!

Once in an airport my nose followed the irresistible aroma of warm cinnamon from Terminal A to Terminal C. My nose and I landed at a Cinnabon counter where I was amazed not only by the pure animal attraction to the location but also by the assembly-line process of creating cinnamon rolls. Perfectly portioned spirals of dough and cinnamon filling slid off an oven's conveyor belt (I think that's what I saw) onto a surface where exact little cubes of soon-to-be melted cream cheese frosting were deposited dead center. It was fantastic. I was mesmerized.

Deathly afraid of raised doughs (I’d been a yeast murderer and the punishment was brick-like bread), I sighed at the impossibility of it all and went on my way with a cinnamon roll – for research purposes – and determined that, scientifically, it was clearly a success. The fact that it was delicious and sticky wasn’t lost on me either.

Previous experience with cinnamon rolls involved whacking a cylinder on the kitchen counter and waiting for the cardboard's seam to explode open after peeling the label counter-clockwise (or was it clockwise). Then there was the attempt to pry the lid off the much-too-stingy container of frosting with a butter knife. That was the extent of my family's cinnamon roll experience. They had never had a cinnamon roll without that lovely processed-dough taste. I have redeemed myself since then.

Aware of my apprehension about all things yeast, my son Jeffrey came to me one evening with a revelation. He’d found a highly-rated cinnamon roll recipe that uses frozen bread dough (thawed, of course) on the Food Network’s website. It actually originated from Sandra Lee (who knew?!) but despite our skepticism for semi-homemade recipes, we went ahead anyway, adapted it big time  -- she uses much more butter and adds instant coffee granules, which we didn't want to do.  We added a Cinnabon-like lemon cream cheese frosting. It was incredibly good! Our own unoriginal original cinnamon roll was born!

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
4 tbsp. butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
Mixed together

Let dough thaw completely in refrigerator over night. On floured surface, spread dough into a rectangle about the size of a shoe box top (so scientific I am) and then roll with a rolling pin to get the dough about 1/4-inch thick, as much a rectangle shape as possible. You don't have to be too precise with the measurements.

With an icing spatula or the back of a spoon, spread dough with softened butter to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Evenly cover with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style into a log about a foot long. Pinch edges together to seal as best you can. Trim 1/2 inch off each end of the "log." Using a good, sharp knife, cut into twelve 1-inch slices. (I cut it in fourths  and cut each fourth into 3 equal slices to get a dozen.) Another option is to use thread or unflavored dental floss to cut the dough but I've never done that.

Place rolls in individual muffin cups that have been sprayed with non-cook spray. Let rise until they have puffed a bit and just about fill the cups, usually a half hour or so depending on room temperature. Once risen,  place muffin tins on cookie sheets (to prevent bubbling sugar mixture from spilling over) and bake at 375 degrees F for about 20-22 minutes or until the tops are nicely golden (see photo).

Immediately upon removing from oven frost with cream cheese frosting using about a generous teaspoon for each roll. After it melts a bit go back and spread it some more with the back of a spoon. Let cool completely before removing from pan (yeah, right).

Cream Cheese frosting:

2  ounces softened cream cheese
2 tbsp. softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
Splash of milk - maybe 2 tsp..  Add more, a few drops at a time, if necessary to get a nice, creamy frosting.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until well blended. Add confectioners slowly until all ingredients are incorporated and then mix very well until completely smooth.Add milk as needed to get to a creamy consistency.

Once the rolls have cooled and the frosting has set, enjoy! Oh, one more thing, don’t worry about storing these – there won’t be any leftovers.

Updated: 3/4/14 - ADK Baker

A New Kitchen and an Old Mixer

Saratoga is really greening up with all this rain! It looks like a tropical rain forest around here! In this part of the world there are many months without foliage so all this lush abundance is appreciated. Wouldn't it be great if the rain could schedule itself between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and leave the daylight hours for nothing but sunshine? In my perfect world!

Many of you know that I have been transitioning between homes over the past few months. I've been very fortunate to be living with my sister Patsy and her husband Don while my new home is being built. I couldn't have asked for better accomodations or more gracious hosts, though we didn't know I'd be there this long! Within a few weeks I'll be moving into a brand-spankin-new apartment over the garage of a new home being built by my oldest daughter Katie and her husband Bill. Katie calls it the "granny flat!" This is a very exciting time. The best part is that I'll be living close to little grandson Henry (and Katie and Bill!) and the second-best part is that my new kitchen will be HUGE and very baker-friendly! My old apartment was in a 19th-century building in downtown Saratoga. It was so small I rarely had company (with the exception of the occasional BAT!). There was little natural light and the galley kitchen was so tiny that I could reach everything by just spinning in place! There was no room for a kitchen table and meals were served at a breakfast bar outfitted with two stools. So you can see why this new kitchen in a wonderful thing.

Speaking of this new kitchen, my favorite appliances and utensils will be happy there too. My most precious appliance is my decades-old Kitchen Aid mixer. Aside from my children, it's by far the best gift my ex-husband ever gave me. He purchased it at the old Carl Company store back in the mid-80s. We've been through a lot together: it's seen me through the toughest of gingerbread doughs and the lightest of meringues, and still comes back for more. I hope it hangs on for decades more. The fanciest tricked-out mixer will never take its place in my heart. Not to say that it's all been rosy; I once stupidly plugged it in while the mixer head was up and my right arm got pummeled between the rotating beater and the bowl. I had never realized how powerful that motor was until that moment. Now there was a bruise! Note to self and a warning to others: always make sure the mixer is turned off and in position before powering on!

Tomorrow's blog: Cinnamon Rolls!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memories of Strawberry Shortcake

After a nice run of beautiful weather, it's raining today. Days like this pull me in to the kitchen, with ideas of baking something sweet and summery to chase those clouds away. Within a few weeks it will be strawberry season here in upstate New York. Memories of strawberry picking at the Hand Melon Farm in nearby Greenwich, New York (pronounced Green-wich unlike our Connecticut neighbor) are priming my taste buds for the strawberry shortcake we used to make for Greenfield Elementary School's Spring Fair. My sister-in-law Carolyn and I would take our kids with various and assorted vessels and park them between rows and rows of gorgeous ripe berry plants. About as many went into their stomachs as their pots, so we got the better of that deal! Once we were home, we'd make a real project out of it. Carolyn (a GREAT cook, by the way) cleaned and hulled the strawberries and I baked the biscuits. Our shortcake used to be created in industrial quantities, but here's a fast and simple recipe to satisfy the crowd around your dinner table:

1 quart of strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. to 1/4 c. granulated sugar, to taste (I like more!)
2 tbsp. orange juice

Allow the above ingredients to macerate (fancy word for sit and get juicy) at room temperature. Stir a few times while the biscuits are baking.

Make biscuits:
3 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. very cold butter, diced
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. half and half plus extra for brushing

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter until it's crumbly (smaller than pea-sized). Stir in half and half. On floured surface -- I use wax paper for easy clean-up -- pat into a 1" thick square. Work in more flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Cut large square into 9 smaller squares (3x3). Place squares on parchment paper (or greased surface) on cookie sheet. Brush surfaces with half-and half. Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on rack.

Whipped cream:
1 pt. heavy or whipping cream
2 tbsp. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place ingredients in chilled bowl and beat until soft to medium-soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat. Chill until ready to use.

To assemble:

Split square biscuit. Layer bottom biscuit, berries and juice, whipped cream, top biscuit, berries and juice, and whipped cream.

Tomorrow's blog: Favorite Utensils ~ My New Kitchen's Must-Haves!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to Adirondack Baker!

Welcome to Adirondack Baker! My name is Jeannie O'Farrell Eddy and I've been an avid baker since I was a young child. I also love to cook, a passion that has taken off in recent years. I'll write about my life in the Saratoga Springs region of New York state. In this blog you'll find frequent entries about baking and cooking (and life!) as well as my adaptation of recipes (from many sources including friends, family, favorite cookbooks, magazines, etc.). When possible, I'll provide action photos to highlight each step of creation for a contributor's favorite dish. I find the history of a recipe as interesting as the recipe itself, so you'll not only be treated to some delicious offerings but the story and nostalgia behind the dish as well.

About me: I've been a single mom to a house-full of children since the youngest was eleven years old. Now they're all grown up (and away!). Anticipating life after child rearing, I went back to school and earned my bachelors degree in 2003, and just this May graduated with my masters degree, both from Skidmore College. My final thesis is entitled "Concoctions and Life-Long Connections: Women's Relationships in the Kitchen." As you can see, kitchen life is something that takes up a lot of academic and non-academic thinking! My most recent passion is grandson Henry, who recently celebrated his first birthday. As he grows up, he'll surely spend many hours in my happy kitchen. Making his first birthday cake was something I'd looked forward to for a long time! No second-fiddle is long-time squeeze Russ Ebbets, whose sense of humor is second only to his good looks (and he loves my oatmeal raisin cookies!).

If you have a favorite recipe you'd like me to consider posting, please send it to me at

Thank you for visiting Adirondack Baker. Whether you just stop by or want to try some recipes yourself, I hope you visit often.
(photo of my cupcake by Leah Lanci Dwornik)