Blogging is hard work.
You know, I actually started this blog about a month before my first post, and baked like a crazy person in order to have content in advance. In the midst of all that, I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend. To the lake
Every year, a group of my fellow librarians head to our friend April’s family cabin to enjoy a weekend of librarian antics. “What kind of antics are those?” you might ask.
I’ll never tell.
But of course, I used that opportunity to bake for a captive audience!
This bake constitutes the signature challenge for “bread week” on the show.
I want to pause for a moment to say that bread was one of the first things that started me down the path that was eventually to lead to this blog. A few years back on New Years I was casting about for a resolution – something that I could challenge myself to learn over the next year. I finally settled on bread. I’d always wanted to learn how to make yeast breads-been a little afraid of yeast, actually- and this would be the year.
It was a Friday, and I set about doing the thing librarians do: research. It didn’t take long before I found a website that positively changed my life, and made me wish – a little bit – that I had gone into the bakery science program in college.
By the end of the weekend I was a pro. The lessons laid out the science behind each ingredient and suddenly there was nothing to be afraid of.
So that’s bread sorted. The next year it was pie crust, and the next thing you know, here we are.
So! Bread week! The signature, wherein the bakers were asked to create a dozen rye rolls. other than that, there were no rules! Freedom!
Bakers time: 3.5 hours My time: 4 hours
First problem was: I’ve never had rye bread outside a sandwich. I stopped in at a little local bakery I know (Panera Bread its called, perhaps you’ve heard of it?) to try some out. Quite a lot of caraway involved, it seems. Was great with ham and cheese.
That sampling aside, I decided to use this opportunity to tackle another fear of mine – cinnamon rolls. A few of the bakers had made sweet rolls, with cranberries and oranges featuring prominently, so I figured that would be a good place to start. I like cranberry. I like oranges. And I happened to have some of both laying around. I like to buy my dried cranberries in bulk, you see, and I had those leftover dried orange peels after the Florentines…
I found a great recipe for rye cinnamon rolls here, and just adjusted it to include the orange/cranberry aspect. It calls for cardamom. I did not know before this exactly how AMAZING cardamom smells. And since it came with me, everything in my luggage smelled amazing. I may have put some in my coffee – every day since then.
Cinnamon rolls are a challenge. I want to eat them, but I usually don’t want to wait the 3 or 4 hours to make them. And it really did end up taking much longer than I would otherwise have liked. It started out well, but the dough wouldn’t rise! I ended up putting it out on the deck. What a shame, to have to sit and do nothing while bread rises with this view…
Once it had sufficiently risen, I found some counter space and rolled it out.
I mixed up the filling, including the orange peel. The cranberries I minced and sprinkled throughout. Then rolled them up.
I really liked the idea of cutting them in triangles and placing them on their side, as they’d done in the inspiration recipe. It seemed like a cool, distinctive look. I didn’t stop to think it would probably be a thing I wanted to practice a few times first… But, I gave it a go, and set them out for their second rise.
While they were basking in the sun on the deck, and then as they went into the oven, I turned my attention to the glaze. To be honest, I was gazing longingly at my friends out there with their books and mimosas and relaxation by this time. I may have half-assed the glaze, pardon the expression. I replaced the liquids with orange juice, and left it to simmer for a good bit. Looking back now, I should have let it boil until it thickened, as the recipe calls for, but I was worried about scorching. So, it definitely ended up more as a liquid than anything resembling a cinnamon roll icing, but it was sweet and sticky and orange-y!
As the rolls came out of the oven, I only let them cool the slightest bit before throwing the best looking 12 onto a plate and drenching them in the glaze. They were definitely over baked, but certainly had that distinctive look I was going for.
It turns out that baking in an unfamiliar oven is probably not the way to win a baking championship. After they were out and eaten, I heard from one of the lake houses’ semi-permanent residents (April’s mom) “I hope they told you it bakes about 25 degrees hot”!
No they hadn’t. Oh well, at least now I can pass the blame for any over baking onto that, rather than any fault of my own! That, and the oven had no window. I had never realized before this very bake exactly how much I rely on a window in the oven. And the bakers, too, are often seen kneeling before their oven, watching things bake. I really missed that window!