wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Cinnamon Rolls

I used to make sticky buns (cinnamon rolls with a syrupy topping) but I’ve found that without the stickiness, these cinnamon rolls are much more fun to eat (unfortunately).

The easiest way is to use the dough setting on a bread machine. If you don’t have a bread machine you can still make up the dough the old-fashioned way (recipe at the end of the post).

Once the dough is rising, either in the machine or in your old-fashioned bread bowl, there is plenty of time to get the ingredients lined up.

I chopped pecans (which you can leave out if you have a nut allergy), and mixed up the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Currants are ready in a jar, but you can use raisins if you prefer them. Butter is waiting to be melted in the microwave just before I roll out the dough.

I like to make two smaller batches from the one dough recipe, so I cut the dough in half and then do the following procedures twice, once for each baking dish.

Roll out the dough in a rectangular shape, until it is a little less than half an inch thick. Spread melted butter over the rolled out dough.

Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on the dough. You can make it quite heavy without hurting the outcome of the rolls. Add the nuts and currants. My rectangle didn’t turn out so well, but it didn’t matter that much.

Roll up the dough and cut into 12 pieces. I cut the roll in half and then cut the halves in half again, and finally I cut each of those four pieces into three. That allows me to make four rows of three in the baking dish, which I have already buttered very well.

Place the rolls into the baking dishes and then brush butter on the sides of each roll so it’s easier to take them out once they are baked. I press the rolls down so they are almost touching before letting them rise in a barely warm oven for about half an hour.

Below, you can see that I have pressed them down before letting them rise.

I set them in the barely warmed oven to rise for half an hour, and then turn them on to 375 degrees to bake for about 35 minutes. Watch them near the end of the baking time so they don’t burn.

The brown sugar in the rolls may have dripped through and baked into a bit of syrup, but this shouldn’t be a problem. The rolls should be easy to remove from the dish if you’ve remembered to be generous with the brushing on of butter between the rolls. Remove the rolls immediately after they come out of the oven.

The dough:

2 cups milk heated for 2 minutes in the microwave

2 T. butter

2 T. honey or sugar

1 1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. fast rising yeast

*Optional: add a beaten egg to the liquid before adding the flour

The filling for the rolls:

3 T. melted butter (some of it to be used for brushing the sides of the rolls)

2/3 cup of brown sugar

1 T. ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans (or other nuts)

1 cup currants or raisins

When the cinnamon rolls are in the oven, go put your feet up for about 35 minutes until they finish baking. The rolls, that is, NOT your feet!

This is a good time check out Anneli’s website at www.anneli-purchase.com


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Chocolate

“I LOVE chocolate!”

I hear it said so often. It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t love chocolate, but do you really know about chocolate and where it comes from?

Most of us see it at this ready-to-eat stage and that is really all that matters. But at the Farmers’ Market in Olympia, Washington, I had a quick lesson in the story of chocolate.

 

Photo from Wikipedia

This is how the cocoa beans look as they grow on the trees – not on branches, but on the trunk. They have to be cut away carefully so as not to damage the place where the stem joins the tree lest it spoil the next year’s growth.

 

Photo from Wikipedia

At a booth in the Farmers’ Market where they sell chocolate, these cocoa pods were on display. The pods which contain many cocoa beans, come in several different colours, depending on variety and ripeness.

Taken at the Olympia Farmer’s Market

The pods are cut open and the leathery shell is discarded. The 30 to 50 cocoa beans inside are placed on a grate or in a bin for several days while the pulp between the seeds ferments and drains away. Then the beans are spread out to dry. At this stage, they may even be sprinkled with red clay mixed with water  for polish and to enhance the colour and discourage mildew.

It takes about 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate. Below are cocoa beans with the husks still on. The husks will be removed, either by machine or by dancing on them in a way that is reminiscent of stomping on grapes to make wine.

Photo taken by Irene Scott for AusAID. (13/2529)

Why does chocolate make us happy?

It’s said to be a good antioxidant and beneficial to cardiovascular health. But I don’t think that’s why almost everyone loves chocolate. Chocolate contains tryptophan which releases serotonin, which in turn triggers the parts of the brain  that tell us we’re happy. (I’ve over-simplified. When I get my degree in organic chemistry, I’ll explain it more thoroughly.)

Mainly I like chocolate because it’s just plain good!

Forget about the calories. 

Happy Easter!