Yeast Unleashed in the East


The Moon has one-third less gravity than your Earth. I don’t know if you can understand that, but our vertical leap is beyond all measurement.

Although the weather has still been largely gorgeous this week, there’s been a slight dip in temperatures that heralds the beginning of fall. The brisker evenings prompted an urge to do something warm and homey, like bake bread. I’m slowly overcoming my fear of yeast, and want to start trying different styles of yeast dough.

Of course, after I decided to do that and got to work the temperature abruptly shot into the 80s, and today is hovering in the low 90s. Fucking weather. Still, it didn’t stop me from making and devouring these cinnamon-cardamom brioche rolls with a delicate orange glaze.


Fill YOUR eyes with double vision.

I enjoy baking, but tend not to veer from established recipes; there’s “science” in them thar hills, and I don’ know nothing ’bout makin’ no science. Proportions and leaveners and all that shit are mysteries to me, so I just follow the directions and make up for my ignorance by getting a little fancy with frostings and fillings and glazes.

Since cinnamon rolls involve yeast, putting me in uncharted territory before I even began, I figured the hell with it and decided to play with the recipe as well. I wanted something with a bit of a lighter structure than a traditional cinnamon roll, which can be on the dense side, so I used the America’s Test Kitchen recipe as a base and tweaked it, hoping to end up with kind of a “brioche-lite” texture.


The bullet is enormous, there is no escaping.

I added a packet of yeast to some warm water in the bowl of my firstborn child KitchenAid and let it sit for a few minutes while I gathered the rest of the ingredients and warmed some butter and milk together. After beating eggs, sugar and a few cups of flour into the yeast water, I switched over to the dough hook to work in the remaining flour.

Before I got the Professional 600 mixer (The bowl lift mechanism makes me WAY TOO HAPPY. It’s like my heroin.)(Sadly, I’m not kidding.) I had a regular 5-quart version. All the attachments – paddle, wire whip and dough hook – were smaller and covered in white enamel; they were pleasant and polite looking. “Hello, would you mind terribly if we whipped these egg whites to soft peaks? We can come back if this is a bad time.”

The attachments for the Professional series? Not so much. They are big. They are unabashedly made of metal. And the dough hook appears to be modeled on something that medieval church inquisitors used to torture adulterous and/or heretical women.

Scary. But you know if it can wring the truth out of a Cathar, it can knead the hell out of some bread dough. Those Cathars were a committed bunch.*

*Sorry about all the medieval nerditry lately; I’ve been reading a lot of history on my vacation.


We don’t just DO what earthlings tell us.

After 12 minutes or so, I had a pretty smooth dough that was pulling away from the walls of the mixing bowl. It was still a little tacky for my liking but I didn’t want to work it in the mixer any more, so I scraped it onto my board and kneaded in a little more flour by hand until the dough ball was cohesive, elastic and smooth to the touch.

There’s something quite sexy about the texture of a good dough, and I had to put it in the oven to rise to prevent myself from manhandling it. Maybe that’s just me.


THIS is a moon bong, and HERE’S how you hit it.

I dug out the dark brown sugar, which thankfully had only partially hardened into a solid sugar brick. Along with a hefty dose of cinnamon – I like my buns spicy – I added some freshly ground cardamom. I love the warm fragrance it adds, and the exotic air it gives to a mundane bun.


Our god is a god of action, and vengence.

I rolled the dough into a rectangleish shape and brushed it with melted butter before sprinkling the sugar and spice mixture. Okay, it was less sprinkling than spackling. Who wants a pansy-ass cinnamon roll?


Here on the moon our weekends are so advanced, they encompass the entire week.

I rolled the dough into a log that was only slightly misshapen. (Making the dough into a perfect rectangle is hard, okay? And by hard, I mean it takes more than the 45 seconds it took to do this.)

America’s Test Kitchen told me to cut the log into individual rolls with dental floss. As much as I liked the MacGuyver aspect of that, I decided to save my extra dental floss for the next time I need to construct a makeshift incendiary device to get me out of a locked room that’s about to explode and went with a plain old serrated knife. It seemed to work just fine.


Prepare for a pride-obliterating bitch slap.

I nestled the rolls into a buttered baking dish, washed the flour off my hands and patted myself on the back for creating such nice little spirals. I mean, look at these things, right? I’m like the fucking Pillsbury doughboy, if he made things that actually tasted good.

At this point, I covered the rolls with plastic wrap, put them in the fridge and went to bed. For you see, I’d done this all at night so I could have fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the morning without having to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to do all this work.


Using a key to gouge expletives on another’s vehicle is a sign of trust and friendship.

The next morning I stumbled out of bed, got the pan of cinnamon rolls and put them in the oven along with a pan of hot water to come up to room temperature and proof. I then fell asleep on the couch and woke up to the stove’s alarm 45 minutes later to find nicely risen buns that had lost their notions of personal space.

I dumped the water and heated the oven; once the buns were in, I went back to sleep until the smell, the wonderful, heady smell, woke me.

While the buns cooled down just a touch, I contemplated glazes. My original idea was to make a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze flavored with rose water and then sprinkle chopped pistachios on top to continue with the Middle Eastern-y theme started by the cardamom. As usual, PathMark thwarted me by refusing to stock rose water, and I was not about to get on the subway for a Whole Foods run. I thought citrus would also be good, so I added a few drops of pure orange oil to some confectioner’s sugar and half-and-half to make a citrus-scented glaze.


Let us leave this primitive rock because there’s nothing but cavemen here.

You know what’s hard? Waiting for these to cool enough to eat without melting your palate. Although honestly, if you couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t hold it against you. Not too sweet, redolent with spices, and a lovely texture – reminiscent of brioche but not quite as rich, with any airy but firm structure that works really well for cinnamon rolls. They stayed together when we pulled them apart, but then unrolled easily for eating (I assume that’s how you all eat them. It is the right way).

The money bite – the innermost part of the spiral, with the least crust and the most spice – was everything it should have been. Perfectly cooked through, moist and spicy.


Two Moon Masters in one house; what are the chances.

The ultimate bonus? The leftover rolls, left out overnight, make the world’s most decadent french toast the next morning. I’m talking, like, get-someone-to-marry-you good. Of course, I’m already married to Brian, so the rest of y’all are SOL.

Cinnamon-Cardamom Brioche Rolls with Orange Glaze

FOR THE ROLLS:
1 packet instant dry yeast
1/3 c. warm water (around 100-110 degrees)
2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 whole milk
5 tbsp. + 2 tbsp. butter
3 1/2 to 4 c. AP flour + more for dusting board
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. good-quality cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground cardamom (if you use pre-ground, you may have to up this a little since it won’t be as strong)

FOR THE GLAZE:
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. half-and-half
1/4 tsp. pure orange oil (optional)

Make the dough: Pour the water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the yeast. Let sit while you do the next steps.

Warm 5 tablespoons of the butter and the milk together until the butter is melted. Let cool down to no more than 110 degrees.

Beat the eggs and sugar into the water/yeast mixture. Add the milk/butter mix and 2 cups of the flour the flour and mix until fairly smooth.

Swap out the paddle for the dough hook. Add 1 1/2 additional cups of flour. Knead for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the walls of the bowl. If the dough is sticky, add more flour a little at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, knead a few times and shape it into a ball. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap; leave to rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Shape the rolls: Once the dough is risen, punch it down and turn it out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured board. Let it rest while you mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom together, making sure to break up any lumps of sugar, and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Roll/spread the dough into a rectangle that’s approximately 12×18 inches. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/4 inch border, and spread the buttered area evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Roll the dough into a log, keeping it as tight as possible. Pinch the seam together. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 12 1-inch-thick cinnamon rolls. Place the rolls cut-side down in a buttered 9×13 baking dish. (NOTE: If you’re sloppy like me, you may end up with 9 rolls, which will fit nicely into a 9×9 pan).

If you’re not baking immediately, cover the rolls with plastic wrap and store in the fridge ’til morning.

Proof and Bake: Remove the rolls from the fridge and take off the plastic wrap. Put them on the top rack of an unheated oven; put a pan of hot tap water on the bottom rack. Leave the rolls to proof for 45 minutes; they will rise a bit more until they’re all pushing into one another.

Remove the rolls and water and preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Let them rest in the pan for a few minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack.

Glaze ‘em up: Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl. Add the half-and-half and orange oil, if using (orange flower water and rose water would also be nice, and a bit more delicate) and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the rolls and serve immediately.

21 thoughts on “Yeast Unleashed in the East

  1. I didn’t think it was possible to like you blog any more, and then you go and throw up a bunch of ATHF quotes, and I’m like, IN LOVE.

    Those are some tasty-looking buns. You’re not the only one who shys away from yeasted doughs. They’re so damn time consuming. But the end results, especially if its cinnamon rolls, are well worth it.

  2. Oh my lord those look and sound delicious. I love baking with yeast, but yeah, it took me a while to get started. There’s something kind of intimidating about those little granules. I love that you turned the leftovers into French toast :D

  3. Now lookie here, I enjoy bong-based comedy as much as the next Amsterdam-dwelling American, but wtf is ATHF? I would like to start quoting it humorously as well. Thank you!!!

  4. Where are the raisins?

    My son says (when I asked him what AHTF is) to say “We are Mooninites together” to you.

    fuzzy
    “-All things that are, are lights.”

  5. laura, i didn’t, brian did. he’s a good man.

    MEM, it’s a cartoon about a talking milkshake, meatball and box of french fries that is much beloved by stoned american teenagers. and me.

    fuzzy, raisins in cinnamon rolls are anathema.

  6. My cravings (or blog posts, anyways) are always a day behind the weather. We’re getting 95-degrees today, and I can’t stop thinking about baking a pizza.

    Nice ATHF quotes.

  7. I feel the EXACT same way about “active yeast” and the science of it all. I would much rather cook and make it up as I go. I’m a much better “BS-er.” I enjoy your blog, and these buns look great!

    Mandy

  8. AHH. these look great. i adore cinnamon rolls and i always fancy the idea of whipping some up successfully and showing off to the world. but i’ve never been able to get my ass to the kitchen long enough to put the things together…pity.

  9. Pingback: YeastSpotting September 19, 2008 | Wild Yeast

  10. The cinnamon (minus) cardamom rolls have been made. And partly (not quite mostly, yet) consumed. No cardamom exists in the kitchen here, it was discovered, but a little ground clove and allspice worked quite well with the orange drizzle. (I would like orange drizzle, the next time it drizzles, but I suspect I would succumb to the resultant sugar coma far too soon for it to really be of much use to me).
    Spectacular recipe. Thank you!

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