I had an entire 3-day weekend, mostly unscheduled, which looked promising for lots of fall baking. First thing Saturday morning I got started on Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls because they needed lots of time to prepare. After kneading the dough it had quite some time to rise, so I moved on to my next kitchen project: Butternut Squash. This is where the story gets interesting.
I don’t really like squash of any kind. But, trying to be a grown-up, I now take that as a challenge to find a way to prepare something that I don’t like and turn it into something I do. So, last week when a friend offered me a slow-cooker butternut squash recipe that included butter, brown sugar, and raisins, I knew this may very well be that magical recipe.
Considering the fact that until that time I didn’t like squash, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I had never purchased, much less prepared it. Apparently the entire world except me knows that butternut squash is very hard to cut.
I have a dull knife (not worth getting into this, but I’ve known for some time that my big knife needs to be replaced and I truly intend to do it very soon). Not so dull, however, that it doesn’t cut through something fleshy. Not fleshy like squash, but fleshy like my finger.
Eek! I saw the cut and immediately realized this was not a Band-Aid sized job. Band-Aids tend not to reattach flaps of fingertip. I ran (quite literally) to the hospital a few blocks away. I called my mom from the waiting room. It went something like this:
Me: Mom, I’m in the ER.
Me: I cut myself with a knife and my fingertip isn’t where it should be.
Mom: Didn’t you just take a knife skills class?
Me: No. I signed up for one but didn’t take it yet.
Mom: You should probably do that.
Gee Mom, thanks.
When I came home, I still had all of my finger plus six very seasonal (Frankenstein-ish) stitches holding me all together.
As would only be right, as soon as I got home the first thing I did was finish the butternut squash and cinnamon rolls, and both were very good. Plus, I can now say I sometimes like squash.
Now here I sit, pecking at my keyboard with a crippled hand. Surely this blog entry will take twice as long as the others to write, so I hope it gives you a laugh.
I wasn’t intending to publish the squash recipe (it’s rather informal anyway, a dash of this, a hunk of that). But, I do want to tell you that another friend, after hearing of my mishap, tipped me off to a squash trick. Zap it in the microwave for a few minutes to soften it up a bit. This makes it much easier to cut through. Take that tip and run with it…preferably not to your local Emergency Room.
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
source: Annie’s Eats
makes 8-12 large cinnamon rolls or 12-16 smaller ones
For the cinnamon rolls:
6½ T sugar
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5½ T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 t lemon zest
3½ c bread flour
2 t instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 c plus 2-4 T buttermilk (or whole milk), room temperature
For the filling:
1½ T unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ c sugar
½ t cornstarch
¼ t ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 t vanilla extract
3 T plus 1 t sugar
¾ t ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese
1 T unsalted butter
3 T caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought is fine)
1 T milk
½ t vanilla extract
1 c confectioners’ sugar
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in the egg and lemon zest until incorporated.
- Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. Or, knead by hand for 10 minutes. (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)
- Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix until the apples are evenly coated. Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to blend; set aside.
- When dough has risen, mist a work surface with spray oil. Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep it from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls). Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough. Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough.
- Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll. Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about 1 inch apart.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size. (At this point, the rolls can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese and butter in a small heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals until it is warm enough to whisk together. Whisk in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
- Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls. Let cool briefly, best served warm and fresh out of the oven!
Is it wrong that I’m still laughing about this? Btw, I’ll use extra caution if I ever attempt to cut a butternut squash- I guess that’s why they also sell it pre-cut at the store?
I’ve never seen it pre cut. You will not be laughing when you see the cut live in person.
Thanks for including me in your knife story! LOL! Hope the wound is healing OK!