Cinnamon Buns and Puppy Sitting

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I have a serious backlog of posts for you folks just sitting, waiting for me to have a chance to write them all down.  I’m also horribly behind on my holiday gifts, too, but I’ll talk a bit more about that a little ways down the road.

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Anyway, a couple weeks back we were puppy sitting for a friend of ours.  This is Stella.  She’s grown significantly since I took this picture, but she’s still a little cuddly doll.

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That said, however, keeping an eye on the little troublemaker basically trapped us downstairs for a couple hours.  The best way to pass the time, I figured, was to make cinnamon buns.  Because, well, that’s the sort of thing I do. These ones are less sweet and not very sticky, more a roll than a sticky bun.  Papa John, of course, adored them, but they’ve got tons of cinnamon in them so that’s a foregone conclusion where he is concerned.

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Let’s start with the dough, shall we?  In a large bowl, mix together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (or one packet).

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In a small saucepan, melt together 1/3 cup butter with 1 cup milk and 1/3 cup granulated sugar.  Stir this until it’s just warm, about 130°F, then add this to the flour mixture.

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Add in 3 eggs and beat with an electric mixer on low for about 30 seconds.  Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so all the goodness is in there.  Then you can beat it for about 3 minutes.

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Use a wooden spoon to stir in about 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups additional flour.  It will be slightly more or less depending on humidity levels, moisture, etc.  All that jazz. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead that sucker with a bit more flour to make a nice soft dough that is smooth and not sticky (this will take you about 5 minutes).

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I was able to do this only because both Stella and Gren fell asleep for a little bit (after making a giant mess with their water bowl) and I had a free hand.

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Shape the dough into a ball and dump it into a greased bowl, turning once to coat it entirely. Cover that and let it rise in a warm place, about an hour and a half, until it’s twice the size it was.

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While that’s doing its thing, combine in a small bowl 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.

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Use a pastry blender to cut in 1/2 cup butter until it’s all crumbly.

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Give your dough a punch or two to flatten it out, then tip it back onto that lightly floured work surface and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

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Roll out your dough with a rolling pin until it’s roughly in the shape of a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.

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Sprinkle that cinnamon filling all over the rectangle, and then top with 1/2 cup toasted pecans and 1/2 cup raisins (I forgot the raisins, oops. I did add in some toasted almonds, too, just for fun).

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Start from one of the long sides and roll the dough up into a nice little tube.

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Slice your tube into 12 even pieces (start by cutting it in half, then each half into halves, and it’s easier that way) and lay them into a buttered 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

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Loosely cover the cut buns and let them rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes, until they’re all puffy and stuff.

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Then you can pop them into an oven preheated to 375°F and bake them for 25-30 minutes, until they’re a nice golden brown.

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Let them cool for a few minutes, and while they’re doing that, whip up a wee glaze.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  You can add additional milk, a little at a time, until it’s drizzle-able.  Having made this once, I would probably double the glaze amount, or at least increase it by 50%.

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Drizzle the glaze over your still-warm buns and serve!

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O Canada: Moose Pizza

Moose Pizza

Gren killed a moose and was kind enough to share it with us.

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Just kidding.  Gren is about the size of a moose’s hoof.  If anyone were to be killed and eaten in that situation it would surely be the tender tasty corgi.  Hell, sometimes *I* want to eat him.  He does look pretty delicious.

Moose Pizza

Fusselette’s dad likes to hunt and fish and as a result we have a pile of fresh-frozen cod and moose roast and moose sausages in our freezer.  This can only mean good things for you, my readers.

In any case, I couldn’t continue my Canadian feature month without including a dish made from Newfoundland’s biggest (and I mean that in more ways than one) pest.  On an island where “Nature comes in extra large,” moose are certainly vermin to be reckoned with.  I had some more to say about moose back when Rusty and Mags were in town.

Moose Pizza

So.  Yes.  We have moose.  We are going to eat it.  When we were in Gros Morne this summer, I had the opportunity to try moose pizza for the first time.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s a Canadian dish, most likely invented right here on the Rock.  Of course, Hawaiian pizza was invented on the Canadian prairies, so who’s to say?

Moose Pizza

First we start with the dough.  For the sake of variety, I’m going to use a different dough recipe than normal.  This one I pulled out of The Joy of Cooking and cut it in half.

Sprinkle 1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast on the surface of a small bowl filled with 2/3 cup warm water.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is all dissolved; then you can stir it up.

Moose Pizza

In a larger bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.

Moose Pizza

Pour in the yeast and water and stir until all ingredients are completely combined.  Then keep stirring for another minute or so.

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Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.  You will find you have to add quite a bit more flour in to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to make sure all the sides are coated.  Cover it with a clean cloth and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour.

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Preheat your oven to 475°F and start prepping your toppings.  If you are going to use a pizza stone (like we did) then put your stone onto the rack in the oven when you turn it on, so it can preheat too.

I decided that mushrooms and red onion were a good complement to the moose sausage that was sizzling in a pan.

Moose Pizza

I sliced up the sausage as well, and grated some mozzarella cheese while I was at it.

Moose Pizza

When your dough is ready, flatten it into a pan sprinkled with cornmeal, or, if you’re using a stone, onto a peel or surface covered with parchment paper.  I made a circle out of ours, to match the stone.  Make a slight lip at the edges of the dough to keep stuff from spilling off and press your fingers into the dough to make dimples.  This prevents crust from bubbling up.

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Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil to prevent it from becoming soggy, and sprinkle with some herbs.  We like herbes de provence in our pizza.

Moose Pizza

Crack open a can of pizza sauce.  We generally use half a can for each pizza.  Smooth that sauce on the dough.

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Add your ingredients.

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Don’t forget your mounds and mounds of sausage. There might be a bit too much sausage on this pizza, but what’s done is done.

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And lots of cheese.

Moose Pizza

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Slice and serve!

Moose Pizza

Coconut Bimini Bread

I am heavily into reading the international culinary exploits of Sasha at The Global Table.  The idea of making a full meal from every single country in the world tickles my anthropological aesthetic.

Sasha’s venture into the food of the Bahamas caught my eye, and I decided to try her Coconut Bimini Bread.  The Pie is a huge bread fan and I love cake, so this could be a very good thing for our little household.  I don’t have a bread maker, which is where she mixed her dough and had it rise, so I had to make do with my stand mixer and my frigid Newfoundland kitchen.

I don’t fail as much these days, but it does happen sometimes.  This was such an occasion.  Here is how my version turned out.

Take yourself 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1/4 cup dry milk powder (a handy thing to keep around the house), 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup coconut milk (warmed, to help activate the yeast), 3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons softened butter, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs.  Chuck those in the bowl of your mixer in the order given.

Give it a stir in the mixer.  It takes only a few seconds to mix it all up.  Add a bit of extra flour if your dough is too wet.

I popped the dough in another bowl, covered it with a towel, and put it in a warm spot to rise for an hour and a half.

Then the Pie made me a grilled cheese sandwich.  I ate it.  It was good.

After an hour and a half, nothing had noticeably happened to the dough.  Nonetheless, I proceeded.

Sasha says the dough is enough to fit in one Pullman-sized loaf pan or two regular bread pans.  Pop your dough in an oiled pan or two and leave it to rise for another 30 minutes and preheat your oven to 350°F.

After rising, slash the top with a sharp knife (oops, I forgot the slash) and then bake for 35 minutes or until brown on top and cooked through.  I had sincere doubts about this bread.  It hadn’t risen at all.  Maybe I need to knead it a bit first?  Perhaps my dough was too wet.  Probably the latter.

My loaf didn’t brown, but I’m not offended.  My oven isn’t the kind of oven that browns things.  I also failed to get either loaf out of the pan in one piece.

We had it hot with butter and a bit of honey and it was pretty good, though a little heavy.  We also made it into French toast and it was kind of awesome.  I’d definitely like to try this one again and see if I can’t get it right.