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!