Over the past two weeks, I have been baking dessert-y type breakfast items as part of a series of Willow Bird Baking Challenges. When the challenges began, I was wrapping up my Oktoberfest posts. So I figured I would write up one just on blog post to reflect upon my experiences after the challenges were said and done.
Then I realized people were visiting my blog, perhaps in search of the particular recipe “innovation” I had shared. Finding nothing but beer-related recipes, I began to wonder if others wondered just what the heck was going on. So, here I am in the midst of Challenge 3, playing catch up with a Challenge 1 recipe for Spiced Orange and Cranberry Morning Rolls.
My most vivid memory of preparing these rolls came as I was rolling out the dough. The dough was soft. I mean, really soft. I am talking the sort of soft that calls to mind how my upper arms will feel when I am an old woman unless I start lifting weights soon. I believe this characteristic is great for dough. Not so much for triceps.
As you may notice, the rolls I made are very small. I halved the dough and froze a batch to see how that would work out, and it worked out just fine. I did notice the jam wanted to squish out when rolling the dough. Gently lifting the dough ever so slightly up and over the jam helped. That said, I would still recommend rolling the filled dough on a sheet of parchment. That way, one can easily slather whatever jam oozed out onto the tops.
As I prepared for this challenge, I watched the Chow Obsessives Marmalade video. Near the end, featured marmalade maker June Taylor remarked when she first started preparing jam, she craved precision. She wanted to know exact measurements, “not this go by sight and feel” nonsense. But she learned that it really did take time to learn all there was to know.
I think baking gets an unfair reputation based on this same premise. Known as the precise sibling to the happy-go-lucky cooking, people shy away from baking before they give it a fair chance. Am I suggesting we all just throw in a pinch of baking powder and a dash of baking soda in lieu of measuring out teaspoons? No. But I am suggesting we all give baking our best effort.
Case in point, I had no idea how these rolls would turn out. Are they perfect? Not by a long shot. But do I now have knowledge I can rely on the next time I try a similar recipe? You bet.
While I am writing up my experiences for Challenge 2 and baking up Challenge 3, be sure to click on over to Willow Bird Baking to check out all of the lovely morning – and evening – rolls created by Challenge 1 participants. It is not to late to join in the fun should you be so inclined!
- For the Rolls
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm (not hot) water
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups milk minus 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup cold shortening (butter flavored Crisco works well)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for after baking
- For the Filling
- 2 cups high-quality orange jam or marmalade
- 1½ cup (3 sticks) butter, melted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- For the Glaze
- 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 2-3 tablespoons milk to thin the glaze to a drizzling consistency
- Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam for about 10 minutes.
- Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add milk up to the 2 cup line. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Cut the shortening into the mixture using a pair of forks or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas.
- Stir the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Mix well, but knead the dough for only a few turns to fully incorporate.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next morning, turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle about ⅛-inch thick. Cutting the dough in half to work with just half at one time makes this step much more manageable.
- Stir together the orange jam, melted butter, sugar and cardamom.
- Spread this mixture over the top of the dough. (If you halved the dough, remember to reserve half of this mixture for the second batch.)
- Sprinkle the chopped cranberries over the top of the the filling mixture.
- Lightly spray two 9 x 13-inch baking dishes with cooking spray.
- Gently roll the dough into a spiral and cut it into rolls, placing them close together in the prepared baking dishes. (This is where you may wish to wrap and freeze – see Notes).
- Cover the rolls you wish to bake with a piece of plastic wrap or clean dish cloth and allow them to rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled, about 1½ – 2 hours.
- Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake the rolls for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top.
- Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter and return to the oven for 1 additional minute.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients (adding milk to get it to drizzling consistency) and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls. If you want the glaze to harden rather than sink in, allow the rolls to cool nearly to warm temperature.
- Serve immediately upon glazing.