Sunday, January 30, 2011

Take That, Cinnabon!

My relationship with the internet when it comes to recipes is love/hate. So you say you want to make cinnamon rolls? Well, there are millions of recipes out there. So how do you find the RIGHT recipe? I figured if I found a copycat recipe of Cinnabon, I couldn't go wrong.

I am proud to say I conquered one of my biggest fears this weekend and for the first time in my life, I baked with yeast. I've decided I have never done it before now simply because my mom never did. The buns/rolls were always made by my grandma, so I never saw it happen.

ANYWAY...I found this great recipe. My first attempt was just okay. I underbaked the rolls a bit for fear of OVERbaking. Oops! It was also too sugary for me the first time around, so today I cut the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture down by about half. Here they are all rolled up and ready to get all warm and fluffy.

They came out of the oven looking good---but as usual, the baking time specified in the recipe was nowhere near long enough.

But let's be clear, people. The star of the show on a cinnamon roll is the frosting. This was a light and fluffy cream cheese frosting. OMG.

Baking with yeast was nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be. Now I can't stop thinking about buns, breads, doughnuts, rolls..............

So here is the recipe...and again, I would suggest using just half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. I also had the rolls in my oven (which is admittedly not the best oven in the world!) for about 18 minutes. I think you'll be able to tell when they are done by checking to see if the cinnamon/sugar is bubbling up in the layers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birthdays: A Piece of Cake!

As I grow older, I've come to realize just how amazing my mom is. Three of her children (Scott, Melissa & Greg) have birthdays in a span of four days (January 15th, 16th & 18th). Each of us got our own cake...and I'm not talking about cake in a pan with a can of pre-made frosting. She created fun cakes for us each year; circus themes, carousels, Wonder Woman, name it, she's probably made it. She did this with seven kids and a full-time job; I'm in awe. That's why I just can't stand the taste of canned frosting or the Crisco-tasting concoction they put on store-bought cakes. It's disgusting and a waste of a perfectly good cake.

So, for my kids I knew I wanted to try to tackle the cakes on my own; it's fun and inexpensive. I found cute toppers for Natalie's cake and cupcakes online, and I knew that I wanted to create a "4" cake. It was easier than I thought! My favorite flavor of cake is strawberry...hands down. It was my first attempt at using a pastry bag with a star tip, but I think it turned out okay. The best part was the frosting: strawberry cream cheese. It was fabulous. Okay, so maybe I'm not going to make it on "Cake Boss," but I think everyone enjoyed it, and that's all that matters!

For Calvin's birthday (two very short weeks later) we used a barnyard theme. My mom showed me a picture of a barnyard cake that was absolutely adorable---so I did my best to replicate it. It was so easy---the key to getting that fabulous color in the frosting is using gel paste food coloring. It costs a bit more than the drops, but it's well worth it!
Calvin was pretty excited about it, too!
There were little cupcake animals that went along with the cake, but for some reason I didn't take pictures of them! Oops! The moral of the story is...I love cake.