Cinnamon Honey Sticky Buns

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You may have noticed that I like to cook; when it comes to most foods, I'm always looking for new versions of my favourites. Why make plain macaroni & cheese when you can make sriracha mac & cheese? Why make a pepperoni pizza when you can make a goat cheese, leek and mushroom pizza? Why make ramen from a package when you could make kimchi egg yolk ramen? I can hardly remember the last time I made the same recipe twice; while I make loads of recipes I adore, I'm always looking for the next delicious thing or the coolest riff on something I already love.

Which is why it really means something when I say that my other grandmother (not Eleanor) makes the best cinnamon rolls. Her cinnamon rolls are so good that when December rolls around and every food magazine is coming up with new twists on the classic (orange-scented with cranberries! Chocolate with caramel sauce! Mincemeat with Marzipan frosting!), I flip straight past. Ever since I learned to cook, I've never made another cinnamon roll recipe; what would be the point?

It took the Recipe Box Project to get me to try a (slightly) new version of cinnamon rolls and no one is more surprised than me that I actually liked them! It shouldn't have been a surprise; the recipe required pre-made crescent rolls and since those aren't available here, I made my own dough according to the legendary recipe I'm attached to. But instead of her filling and glaze, I followed the Recipe Box version and it's amazing.

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So in honour of both of my grandmothers, one of whom acquired this recipe and the other who nurtured in me a love for cinnamon rolls and whose birthday is this week, here's a hybrid recipe incorporating the best of both of their recipes. Make these to celebrate your birthday, when you need a breakfast treat, when you have someone to impress, or when you just need a grandmother's hug.

the verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a heavily-spiced filling, all nestled in a puddle of honey butter- these are the rolls most breakfasts can only aspire to. These won't replace my slightly different Christmas morning version, but these will absolutely be served at my next brunch and are definitely going into rotation... if I can ever get around to making a recipe more than once!

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ONE YEAR AGO: CRAZY CHOCOLATE CAKE
TWO YEARS AGO: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DATE FILLING

the recipe:

Cinnamon Honey Sticky Buns

the directions:

Heat milk with butter until both are warm (butter doesn't need to fully melt), then pour into mixing bowl.
Add sugar and salt and stir well.
Add yeast mixture and stir well again.
Add beaten egg and ½ of the flour and beat until dough is soft.
If dough is still very wet and sticky, add additional flour, ½ c (60g) at a time and continue beating JUST until dough comes together and begins to come away from the beaters.
Cover with a towel and put in a warm, non-drafty place to rise.
Let rise til doubled in size (I usually leave this to go overnight so it's ready in the morning, but if you're waiting for it, will take approx. 1 hour).
While dough rises, make sauce: combine all ingredients except pecans in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.
Stir in nuts, then spoon 1-2 tbsp into each of 12 muffin cups.
Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
Punch down risen dough then roll each piece into a vaguely rectangular shape approximately 11x15 inches.
Spread dough with softened butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Starting with the long side, roll dough into a log.
Using a sharp knife, slice log into approx. 1 ½ inch rounds.
Place each roll into a prepared muffin cup, then place in a warm spot to rise again for 30-45 minutes until the dough has filled the muffin cups, approximately 45 minutes.
Bake at 190 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are dark gold and middles are pale golden.
Remove from oven and let cool 1 minute in the muffin pan, then turn out quickly and serve immediately while still warm; sauce will be a delicious warm caramel at the bottom of each roll.

the ingredients:
the dough:

¼ c (60ml) milk
½ c (114g) softened butter, divided
¼ c (50g) sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp fast action yeast dissolved in ¼ c (58ml) warm water
1 egg, room temperature and beaten slightly
1 ½-2c (180-240g) flour

the sauce:

2 tbsp honey
¼ c (50g) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
¼ c pecans, chopped

the filling:

2 tbsp butter, softened
¼ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Honey Chocolate Cake (for your honey)

I'm getting better at frosting cakes, too! 

I'm getting better at frosting cakes, too! 

Last week marked FOUR YEARS since Judson and I got married, and seven years since we met, which, probably, makes it a lucky anniversary. We’re celebrating in Tenerife, and hopefully right now I am lying on a beach, drinking something out of a coconut and debating whether my next activity should be to take a nap or go for a swim.

But, prior to leaving Edinburgh, of course I had to make a cake to celebrate, and since we’ve moved on from cheesecakes to chocolate cakes, here’s your monthly chocolate cake recipe: a honey cake for your honey.

Here’s the thing, though: This cake is a pain. Almost every ingredient in it requires some kind of prep before you mix it into the cake: the butter has to be softened, the eggs separated and whipped, if you live in a place where you can’t find buttermilk or cake flour, then lemon juice has to be added to your milk, and cornstarch has to be added to your flour, milk has to be scalded, chocolate melted, pans lined, and the list goes on..

But oh man, is it worth it. The last few chocolate cakes that I have made have been airy or fudgey, but I’ve never made one as velvety as this one. And since the cake was taking so long, I enlisted Judson’s help to make the frosting (a job I hate, though I love frosting, and a job Judson loves, although he hates frosting) and I’ll be damned if he didn’t make the tastiest homemade frosting I’ve ever had. It was perfectly smooth and creamy with the richest cocoa flavour I’ve ever encountered in a frosting. 

(I have no idea what kind of frosting is supposed to be on this cake-- the recipe just says 'confectioner's sugar frosting,' and since I couldn't bare to leave such a perfectly moist cake frosting-free, I opted for a simple, deeply chocolate 'cocoa icing,' that blended up smoother than any frosting I've made in awhile.)

So I guess this cake is a good metaphor for being married, even beyond the perfectly pun-able name: in the end, you’ve got a delicious cake, but only after putting a lot of work into it, and even then, there might be moments when you're sure it's all a disaster before it all comes together in the end (like when I tasted the frosting halfway through the process and it had the consistency of dried cement and tasted so bitter I could barely swallow it).

the verdict:

5 spoons out of five. This cake has a rich and velvety texture from the honey without being cloyingly sweet, and the frosting actually tastes like chocolate-- not just like powdered sugar. It's rich and decadent, and the perfect triumph after all the work you'll have to put in to actually make it. 

One year ago: Fancy tomato soup (and an embarrassing story)

The recipe:

Honey Chocolate Cake

the directions:
Cake:

Note that this recipe requires everything to be done in a certain order, so I've tried to put things below in the order you should do them to avoid the mad scramble I had halfway through. Follow everything below to the letter and you'll have an easier time than I did!

Remove butter from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare everything else.|
Line 2 round cake pans with parchment on the bottom.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
If making your own buttermilk, add lemon juice to milk as above and set aside.
If making your own cake flour, sift together the cornstarch and flour as above.
Sift baking powder, salt, and baking soda into the cake flour and set aside.
Melt the chocolate and set aside.
Separate the eggs, set the yolks aside, and beat the whites until stiff but not dry.
Add ¼ c sugar to the egg whites, then beat again until very stiff and glossy.
Set beaten whites aside.
By this time, your butter should be close to room temperature so you can proceed with the recipe.
Cream butter, remaining ½ c sugar, and vanilla.
Add yolks and beat well.
Add chocolate (now melted but cool) and blend.
Gradually beat in honey.
Scald the milk on the stove or in the microwave.
Meanwhile, add sifted flour mixture and buttermilk to chocolate mixture, then beat until smooth.
Fold egg whites gently into batter, then stir in the scalded milk until mixture is of uniform consistency.
Pour into prepared cake pans and bake 20-30 minutes until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely, then frost.

frosting:

Blend melted shortening, salt, and cocoa.
Add milk and vanilla and beat well (mixture will be dark and grainy).
Add powdered sugar in 3 parts, blending after each.
If mixture is too thick, add a few drops of milk and cream until silky smooth.
Frost the cake and enjoy!

the ingredients:
the cake:

¼ cup butter, softened to room temperature
¾ c sugar, divided
½ tsp vanilla
2 eggs, separated
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
½ c honey\
2 c cake flour, sifted (make your own cake flour by placing 2 tbsp cornstarch into your measuring cup then filling with flour, for a total of 4 tbsp cornstarch for 2 cups of flour)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ c buttermilk (make your own by placing 1 ½ tsp lemon juice into your ½ cup measuring cup, then filling with milk and leaving stand 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened)
½ c milk, scalded (heat milk until tiny bubbles appear around the outer rim but milk does not boil)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


the frosting:

¼ c shortening or Stork, melted
¼ tsp salt
½ c cocoa
1/3 c milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 ½ c powdered sugar, sifted & divided