Friday, June 27, 2014

Daring Bakers Challenge June 2014: Cinnamon Rolls

I am THRILLED to report that with this month's Daring Bakers challenge, I can end my decade-long search for the ideal cinnamon roll recipe. I FINALLY found it!

This month, we were challenged to make cinnamon rolls and could use any recipe that we wanted. In the far back corners of my brain, I recalled hearing that the best cinnamon rolls (characterized by a fluffy texture and weren't dry) contained mashed potatoes. Crazy, you say? Delish, I say!!

I scoured the Internet for mashed potato cinnamon roll recipes and found quite a few. The one I finally chose stood out because it contained a bit of a secret, unexpected ingredient: pumpkin pie spice. 

This recipe, I kid you not, results in the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made... hands down. I'll be hard pressed to look beyond this recipe, t'boot. It makes A LOT of cinnamon rolls (a double batch of rather sizable rolls), so I wound up taking one pan to work.... and boy, were they a hit!!! The recipe doesn't provide icing information, so I just threw together a cream cheese icing and it worked beautifully.

Get a gander at how beautifully fluffy and moist the rolls turned out: 

Yummmmmmmmy!
Without further ado, the amazingly wonderfully perfectly tasty cinnamon roll recipe I chose to try ... and wound up falling head over heels for:

Soft Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Author: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
The Dough:
  • 1 cup lump free mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup reserved potato water (or plain water is fine)
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter or margarine, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup hot water (just from the tap is fine, don't boil any)
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • ½ cup WARM water
  • 2 eggs
  • 8½ cups all purpose flour

The Filling:

  • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the potatoes, potato water, butter, sugar, salt and hot water in a very large bowl.
  2. Mix well and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  3. Combine the yeast and ½ cup warm water in a small bowl. Let rest 5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, yeast, and 2 cups of the flour to the potato mixture.
  5. Using a dough hook and stand mixer (or mix by hand) blend well.
  6. Add flour, 1 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. This usually takes almost all 8 cups.
  7. Knead on a floured surface or with your dough hook until it's smooth and elastic about 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. Place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.
  9. Cover and rest one hour until doubled in size.
  10. Divide dough in half and roll one into a 12x18 inch rectangle.
  11. Mix the sugars, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl.
  12. Spread half the butter on the dough and sprinkle on half the sugar mixture.
  13. Roll from the long side and cut slices about 2 inches thick.
  14. Place in a greased 9x13 pan.
  15. Repeat with other half of dough. (You can freeze rolls at this point if you want to)
  16. Cover and rise in a warm place 30-45 minutes until doubled
  17. Bake in 350 degree oven 25 to 35 minutes. Tent with foil if they get too dark.
  18. Cool 15 minutes and the drizzle with icing.
Recipe source: http://thecountrycontessa.com/2014/01/16/soft-homemade-cinnamon-rolls/

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Aunt June's 101st birthday celebration

This weekend, we celebrated my great aunt's 101st birthday. To celebrate her day, the kids and I went to her home to have lunch with my brother and his family, Aunt June's son Gary who was in town for a visit, and my mom. Some other family friends arrived with a birthday cake for Aunt June, so it turned into a proper party!

As soon as we walked in the door, Annika ran up to Aunt June and said, "Happy 101st birthday, Aunt June! You definitely look older!!" Fortunately, Aunt June is good humored about her age and wasn't offended by our blunt little one.

A bit after our arrival, Aunt June tugged on my sleeve and said (while smiling ear to ear) that immediately after Conor's arrival, he ran up to her and gave her a big hug. Aunt June said this was the first time he'd greeted her like that without being prompted to say hi to her. I could tell by the look on her face, that it meant a great deal to her... and I can see why!

We are so blessed to have her in our lives and hope she had a fun birthday with our loud, chaotic bunch.

Happy birthday, Aunt June! We love you!!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Annika's last day of kindergarten

Today, I dropped off the kids at school. I do that most mornings, so what's the big deal and why does this merit a blog post? Well, the big deal is today is Annika's last day in kindergarten.

About 9 months ago, we set her off on a new academic adventure called kindergarten. Over the school year, she got 2 adult teeth, lost 3 more of her baby teeth, developed a love of math, started learning how to read and write, started to learn how to speak and understand Spanish, took a jump roping class, went on fun field trips to places like a pumpkin patch and Greenlake (to test out the sea worthiness of the wooden boats they made), and so, so, so much more!

We feel so blessed to have had Mrs. Galvan and Mrs. Silva teach Annika this year. They are incredibly gifted (read: intelligent, patient, humorous, creative, etc) women and true assets to our school.

This has been a wonderful year. We are sad to know it has come to an end, but are consoled to know that so many more adventures are on the horizon.

Next stop: 1st grade!



Monday, June 16, 2014

Here, fishy, fishy, fishy

Yesterday was the last class in Annika and Conor's session of swim lessons, which equates to the kids having a lot more fun time in the pool.

After Annika's class performed their proficiency exam (of sorts), they headed to the diving boards and got to jump off the low and high dives for about 10 minutes. I doubt Annika could have imagined a better way to spend the last third of her class time. They started off on the low dive, but quickly migrated to the higher option. A couple of the children in her class balked their first time off of the higher board, but every one of them did take the plunge. It was really neat to have all of the parents clap and cheer as each child overcame his or her fear of that first big step. Annika was fearless, so didn't get the crowd support, but did get many parents laughing when she shouted "Geronimo!" during one of her trips from the high dive to the pool.

While Annika's class was enjoying the diving boards, Conor's class also got to do something special, too. They donned life jackets and went into the deep end of the pool for the first time ever. The boys were a bit tentative at first, but had a great time once they were able to put their faith in their life jackets. Their teacher helped them work on their kicking and crawl stroke. The teacher also had the boys hold onto pool noodles and he swam around with them in tow, which they thought was loads of fun!

Our kids are always shivering when they get out of the pool ... they're also smiling from ear to ear at the end of their swim lessons. We definitely have two little water-loving fishies on our hands, and we couldn't be more thrilled!

video
Annika's high-dive escapades


video
Everything is better in slo-mo!!


video
Conor's first time in the deep end
(he's in the blue life jacket)


video
Conor's enjoying the deep end of the pool