Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Dreamsicle Frosting

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Dreamsicle Frosting
What’s your favorite part of a cinnamon roll? The frosting, the outside curl? I like the sweet spot, that very inner circle — the cinnamon roll navel, it might be called. It holds a moist, sweet dose of butter, cinnamon and sugar.

To create that sweet spot, spread butter, sugar and cinnamon right to the very edge of the rolled-out dough. The side you roll first is the where the sweet spot begins. Don’t leave a blank margin.
The sweet spot — my favorite part of a cinnamon roll.
To make this recipe, I used dough remaining from the Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Roll recipe. You can see from the photos that the dough bakes to a pretty vivid color.

Most cinnamon roll recipes call for a sweeter dough, but I like the contrast of butter, sugar and spices on bread that isn’t particularly sweet. There’s just 1/3 cup sugar in the entire recipe of Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls, hardly enough to be called even barely sweet.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe for Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls are perfect for Thanksgiving.

Yeast breads were rarely made at home when I was growing up. Rather, it was cornbread and biscuits that reigned. One or the other would be on the table — and sometimes both depending on the rest of the menu and how many people were gathered round. I don’t recall being taught specifically when to serve cornbread and when to serve biscuits. It’s one of those things you just know, I guess.

But even though the South does tends to be a quick bread region, yeast risen loaves do have their place. We ate commercial sandwich bread (called “light bread” in case you were wondering) because it was absolutely vital for tomato sandwiches. Necessary, too, for peanut butter. (We also ate peanut butter on biscuits, and some in the family even liked it on cornbread.)

Please do not call me a slider.
But for really special meals — such as Thanksgiving — our family would eat those “brown ’n serve” rolls, the ones with the split-top crust. We liked them and they seemed special in the way that store-bought things did at one time. The small package of one dozen rolls didn’t go very far. There were never leftovers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Fig Preserves

My mother’s fig preserves
The answer to what items I would save from a burning house might include my mother’s fig preserves.

I suppose they are conserves to be more exact — whole fruit, the Brown Turkey variety, slowly cooked in a luscious syrup of sugar and just a bit of lemon juice.

For as long as I can remember, a jar of fig preserves has been within reach. Jars stacked in the cupboards, an open container in the refrigerator. Always, always fig preserves at breakfast. With biscuits. With eggs sunny side up.
A proper breakfast: eggs, buttermilk biscuits and fig preserves.

Though their origins are Mediterranean, figs do just fine in the steamy South and of course love California. It’s nigh to impossible to grow them up North.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe for Apple Pumpkin Walnut Cake

Apple Pumpkin Walnut Cake
In 2010, this Apple Pumpkin Walnut Cake was The Dessert of autumn. I brought it to late afternoon committee meetings, enticing and sweetening collegues to stay just a little bit longer. It went to church, to potlucks, to grieving friends.

Once or twice, I may have baked it for my husband. Sometimes he gets that look and asks, “Who are you baking for this time?”

It’s still a favorite one year later. I’ve been looking forward to baking this cake for months, waiting patiently for apple season to arrive. Last year, there were two abundant apple orchards within a couple miles of our house. If I had drawn a 5-mile circle, several more would have come into view.

The smallest farm I enjoyed most. It was a bit shaggy around the edges, the old house and barn nestled in the soft hills of west Michigan. Small and homey — I loved it. I’d pull in to the circular driveway and then spend a half hour chatting with the gal in the barn. She’d toss me one apple after another for tasting and then I would settle on a variety or two.

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