March 9, 2010
You, like Jill, may be one of those people who is mystified by my love for this:
Yes, that’s right, I am a Von Trapper, a girl who counts Christopher Plummer among her first crushes, who knows every word to every song and squeals unabashedly when the camera first opens onto the Viennese countryside.
I can’t rightly say how many times I have seen “The Sound of Music,” but I do know that every time I go back to it, I discover something new. Like the first time I was old enough to understand that my beloved Captain Von Trapp wasn’t just a handsome military widower who could sing and dance BUT ALSO a radical who resisted the Anschluss and stood behind his political convictions.
Or the first time I realized I had outgrown any affection for the cheesy gazebo scene (“sixteen going on seventeen”) between Liesl and Rolf in favor of the cheesy gazebo scene (“must have done something good”) between Maria and the Captain. Or this most recent encounter, in which I decided that there was maybe something to this “favorite things” business after all.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Or my version:
Babies with Afros and top-shelf margaritas
Rothko and Rilke and freshly-made pitas
Baristas who flirt with a glint in their eyes
These are the things that help me get by
So I’m not meant to be a songwriter–the sentiment still holds. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but I think that conjuring up the memory or thought of things you like best can actually be rather useful. Or you can actually conjure up some cinnamon rolls in real life.
Cinnamon rolls from scratch do not a quick breakfast make. Patience, grasshopper. They are SO worth it.
For the dough:
1 package yeast
¼ cup warmer-than-your-finger water
Pour the water into a large bowl, then sprinkle the yeast on top with a pinch of sugar. Let it stand for a few minutes—if it doesn’t foam, try, try again.
Now you’ll need these things:
¼ cup whole milk
2 T butter
Microwave them together for 30 seconds or until the butter is melting and it’s all warm (but not hot). Toss the warm dairy into the bowl with the yeast, then add the following:
3 ½-4 cups all-purpose flour, added 1 cup at a time
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
I like to hand-mix but you can use a dough hook. Knead until springy but still soft (you may not use all of the flour). Don’t over-knead; you want a dough that’s loosely hanging together.
Butter the bowl you were just using & let the dough rise there for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size (may take 1 ½ hours).
For the filling:
1 cup butter, completely softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 ½ T cinnamon
Whip all of the filling ingredients together with a fork or spoon until fluffy. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Spread the filling gently atop the dough, going out to the edges on all but one of the long sides. Leave a ½-inch border along that final edge so you have something to seal the roll with.
Roll the dough up into a log, starting with the edge opposite the border. When you get to the border, wet the dough a bit, then pull it up and over the log and press down to seal.
Line a jellyroll or spring form pan with parchment (cleanup is a nightmare if you skip this step, trust me). Using a serrated knife, cut the dough log into inch-thick rolls, placing them swirl side up in the pan. Don’t space them too closely together, as they will expand. Cover the pan with a damp towel and let the dough puff up again, about 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325˚. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
While they’re baking, whip up a simple icing: a whole lot of powdered sugar thinned with a little bit of liquid. You can use just plain milk or milk + some kind of flavoring (orange juice, vanilla, almond extract, etc.)
Once the rolls have cooled slightly, drizzle them generously with the icing.