Tradition

Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting

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I’ve been brewing for weeks, with nothing to say, only much to feel.  Melancholy has always been good for my creative soul, and yet it seems in this season it paralyzes, rather than moves me.  Each day I am lead on a melodramatic voyage, by which I see everything through the impossible lense of the present.  I am left right back where I started, but with nothing tangible to hold, write, or at the very least, eat.  It’s exhausting really, and I am left feeling robbed of the beautiful mundane that I was once so good at savoring, and celebrating.

Somehow, remembering that it’s November magically takes me out of this less than desirable state of mind, if only for the brief moments I reminisce about family tradition.  Every November I bake my first batch of cinnamon rolls in preparation for the big bake on Christmas Eve.  Maybe I like the excuse to eat them twice a year, or maybe my body and mind need to be reminded of this domestic rhythm that helps connect me to the women I never knew, but the blood that is always running through me.  It’s as if these cinnamon rolls are my access to wisdom from my grandmothers.  It’s as if this process of mixing, kneading, rising, baking, cooling, and frosting, whispers truth back into the gray.  This morning I needed to be shaken abruptly, and held fiercely.  I need to walk myself to tears, borrow brown sugar from a neighbor, and bake my way back into bliss.  I needed to smother Octave in kisses, and eat three cinnamon rolls with her.  Sometimes the little things can solve big things.

Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 18 rolls

Dough

1 cup whole milk

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 eggs

3 1/2-3/4 cup flour, divided

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

Filling

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cloves

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

A few squeezes of fresh orange juice, or until you reach your preferred consistency

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add milk and heat until it is slightly hot to the touch.  Transfer butter and milk to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add egg and beat on low until combined.  Add 1 1/2 cup flour, salt, yeast, and sugar.   Beat on medium speed until combined well, scrapping sides of bowl if necessary.  Add the rest of the flour and mix for 3-4 minutes until a ball of dough forms.  It should be soft a pliable but not stick to the bottom or sides of the bowl.  Add flour a tablespoon at a time if it seems necessary.  Place dough in a large oiled bowl and let rise for 2-3 hours or doubled in size.

Rolls dough out into a rectangle the size of a large baking sheet.  Using a knife spread softened butter on top of dough and sprinkle mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves evenly on top.  Using the longer side of the dough, start rolling dough into the sugar and cinnamon and pinch dough as necessary.  Leaving the seam side down, and with a serrated knife, cut dough into 3/4 inch rolls.

Place rolls in a buttered pan, leaving room for them to rise.  Cover with seran wrap and place in the fridge to rise overnight.  My mom always let her rolls rise overnight and I used to think a few hours would do the trick but letting them have a long rise is absolutely key to a perfect fluffy dough.

The morning you are ready to bake preheat oven to 375.  Bake cinnamon rolls for 20-24 minutes.  Make your frosting while the rolls cool for 10-15 minutes.  Frost to your hearts content.

Our Loyal Chocolate Chip

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"Just one more Mama?"

“Just one more Mama?”

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She didn’t like my answer.

It has taken me 27 years of life, 3 years of marriage, and 1 bambino, to realize that I am a cookie person.  My parents have video footage of me at two, relentlessly begging for “cookie.”   It was one of my first words.  Growing up I always asked my mom if we could bake cookies from scratch.  From scratch, was kind of a foreign concept in my household, and apparently even at a young age I had an infatuation with the idea.  Now years later, I bake cookies for my family almost weekly.  I lay awake at night dreaming up cookie combinations like, chocolate and cayenne, rose and honey, ginger and lemon, and so on.  It seems so obvious that I am a cookie person, I have just overlooked this detail.  Maybe cookies are so foundational, and such an obvious favorite, that they go unspoken of.  They are comforting and loyal, both of which are endearing qualities, and yet as classic as they are, our preferences are as diverse as we are.  Some prefer soft, chewy, sweet, salty, crispy, with nuts, or without nuts, and this is only the beginning of such preferences.

I’ve been so consumed with trying new cookies, that I have forgotten about the most classic and loyal cookie of all…chocolate chip.  Smitten Kitchen’s recipe was always my go-to, and while I absolutely love it, I have not been convinced it was the one.  I recently read this tutorial about perfecting the chocolate chip.  Then soon after I saw this post on one of my favorite blogs, and I was inspired to find a recipe that we could confidently call our favorite.  While I thrive off of trying new things, the whole point of this blog is to have a collection of our favorite family recipes, original, borrowed or adapted.  I want to give Octave a book of our memories that surround food.  I want to document and share recipes that are enjoyed so often,  I can remember them by heart.   I want a classic cookie that can be passed down generations. I want something constant that won’t change and evolve, like we do.  While change is fresh and fun and always welcome in my life, I often find myself craving tradition and stability.  In this season it seems this new cookie recipe may just be everything I have wanted.  I will look no further, this is our chocolate chip cookie!

The Classic Chocolate Chip

Makes 2 Dozen

Blend together…

1 cup unsalted butter(room temperature)

1 cup+2 tbsp. cane sugar

1 egg(room temperature)

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together…

2 cups+3 tbsp. spelt flour

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

Add in…

1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add in chocolate chips and mix until combined.  Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out dough and evenly place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating pan half way through.

A few helpful tips… 

*Use the highest quality, most local ingredients you can find and afford.  My favorites are, Bob’s Red Mill flour, Wholesome brand sugar, Simply Organic Vanilla, Organic butter from grass-fed cows, and the most local eggs you can find.  The quality of ingredients really does make a difference, even when baked in chocolate chip cookies.

*Pulling the cookies out slightly underdone, and letting them cool completely, gives you the best of both worlds, slightly crispy on the edges and slightly chewy in the middle.

*As soon and you pull the cookies out of the oven, give the baking sheet a few taps on the counter.  This helps them set and gives them the attractive lines, I am always striving to achieve

German Apple Pancake

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German Apple Pancakes, along with Dutch Babies, remind me of family celebrations at the Original Pancake House in Portland.  I will be honest and say, not a day goes by that I don’t miss Portland and all the people who fill it.  I am realizing the possibility that nostalgia might always be my dear friend.  Quite honestly, I like it this way.  I am most inspired in this state.  I am learning that it is not a sign of being discontent or wishing for the past, it is just a process that helps me remember, feel more creative and ultimately more human.  When I remember, all of my senses come alive and this is when I feel most myself.  Through tastes, scents and sounds I remember past versions of myself as they spontaneously come back to say hello.  I suppose they are never really gone.  This morning I made this pancake and I remembered ordering one on my 17th Birthday just days after I returned home from my first solo trip to Italy.  I was proudly wearing my Italian denim jacket and peasant style skirt with some ridiculous designer shades that were totally unnecessary in Portland, not to mention cost me months of work.  The denim jacket still smelled just like Italy and so I refused to wash it.  I ate this pancake with people I love while sharing every last detail about my life changing trip.  Almost 10 years later this pancake is still relevant.  10 years later I am making it in my own kitchen for my family.  One day I will miss this very season we are in.  One day I will long for the time and space when I made German Apple pancakes on Sundays.   One day Octave might even have memories of this pancake.  Oh how I love tradition!  Especially when it evolves and becomes our own.  Memories are what I cherish most.  My dear friend Jasmine once observed that I often say “I have to remember everything,” or “I want this moment to last forever.”  I know this is not possible but through food, especially this gorgeous pancake, it becomes a little bit easier, a little more joyful and a little more tasty.

Serves 2 

-Apples-

2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced

½ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar

¾ tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. salted butter

-Batter-

3 eggs

½ cup+ 2 tbsp. whole milk

¼ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. sea salt

Pinch of nutmeg

½ cup spelt flour or other flour of choice

Pre-heat oven to 475.  Place 9 inch pie dish in oven while it is heating. If you have a 9-inch cast iron skillet use that.  We don’t so I sautéed the apples in a saucepan and then transferred to a pie pan.  If using cast iron you only need just that one skillet.  Melt 3 tbsp. butter on medium heat and add in apples, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Once the apples start to simmer cover and reduce to low for 5-8 minutes or under tender.  Meanwhile whisk together all the wet batter ingredients, adding in the flour last and set aside.  Pour sautéed apples into the pie dish.  Spread apples out evenly in the dish and quickly pour batter over the apples.  You don’t want to mix anything just let it be after you pour and place in the oven.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Serve with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon. YUM YUM YUM!