Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ethiopian New Years

Today is the first day of the Ethiopian calendar year 2005!  New Years Eve must have been a wild party because we were woke at 4AM to the sound of a car smashing in to our compound wall.  Well, it didn't quite make it to the wall, but was completely wrecked and stuck in sewer ditch a few feet from our wall.  The guy driving was drunk as a skunk and thankfully no one was hurt.  When the tow truck pulled the car out later that day the car's frame was completely folded.  It's was a crazy way to start the holiday. The sound of the car crash in our dream state was like something from the Twilight Zone.  Groggy and confused we both sat up in bed and wondered aloud if a flying saucer had landed on our roof.  I think I mumbled something about a the satellite dish.  Anyhow.

We rung in the new year with the entire family at home today and celebrated with a batch of the richest and most delectable cinnamon rolls I have ever made for breakfast.
 Someone please tell me that I am not the only one who forgets every time I make cinnamon rolls just how long it takes.  Like an idiot, I always get the girls excited by telling them I'm making them for breakfast.  I start the dough at 7AM and the first bite of the final product is not until a good hour and a half later.  Sometimes more.  Cinnamon rolls take some time.  Mostly for the double rising, which you want to go slowly for all that flavor in the dough, but it's so hard to wait when the girls are running in every 20 minutes asking me when breakfast will be ready. But the wait was completely worth it this morning!
I used a dough recipe from my dear friend Jenny.  I adapted it for the stand mixer instead of a bread machine and there is no way I am ever making cinnamon rolls again without this fluffy, creamy, rich dough.  Most cinnamon rolls (or the ones I have made in the past) get tough after sitting out at room temperature. Not these.  I sneaked a bite at 3PM and they were still airy and light, filled with rich cinnamon and brown sugar.  I ground up pecans for the filling as well and they were topped with vanilla bean butter cream frosting.  Holy Cow they were good.

Perfect Cinnamon Roll dough
1 cup water 
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp instant dry yeast
3 1/4 cup flour
4 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp powdered milk

In your stand mixer with dough hook attachment, combine the flour, yeast and powdered milk (the powdered milk is an ingredient that anyone living overseas will likely have in their pantry BUT if you are in the States you may not have this on hand).  In a microwave bowl combine the water, butter (already softened), sugar and salt.  Heat until slightly warmer than luke warm-about 40-50 seconds.  Stir the liquids a bit when warmed and add to flour mixture.  Add the egg and start mixing slowly at first, scraping down the sides, then faster until all the dough is combined.  It is a very soft dough that still clings a bit to the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise slowly at room temperature until doubled.  

When the dough has doubled pull it out on a floured surface (if the dough that clings to the bowl when you dump out the large clump is super stringy like cobwebs you've risen it enough and the flavor will be wonderful). Sprinkle with just enough flour so that it's not too sticky to work with.  Roll it out in a large rectangle.  I like to use my large Silpat for the rectangular dimensions.  From here you can add a combination of whatever you like.  I personally like to soften butter and spread a thin layer on the dough then spread a mixture of 1/4 dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup ground pecans (or walnuts) and 1 tsp salt (only if using unsalted butter).  

Roll the dough into a long log and use dental floss to slice 2.5 inch tall rolls ( I think I got about 15 with this recipe).  Place the rolls in a greased glass pan with about 1.5 to 2 inches of space in between the rolls.  I had a few extra rolls that wouldn't fit in my pan so I greased small ramekins and baked them in those.  Cover the pan (or ramekin) with a towel and let rise again for about 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  

I prefer a cream cheese based frosting on top of my cinnamon rolls but I didn't have any cream cheese so I made a simple butter cream with 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup of softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste and a dash of salt.  These measurements are an estimation.  I essentially softened a hunk of butter and added powdered sugar until it was a nice consistency then flavored with vanilla and the salt.  Seriously yum!

We brunched with friends as a farewell to a colleague leaving Addis, I baked most of the afternoon (more details on that later) and we ate Yemeni food for dinner.  Ashlynn loved the broth, hummus and rice. I think she might have got an anise pod though because at some point she just kept scratching at her tongue screaming with a bright red face.  Something was spicy!  Poor girl.  Adelaide ate two kebabs all by herself and Bella just collected all the skewers. The 45 minute wait for chicken kebabs and 30 minutes of that playing "I Spy" was just too much for Bean.

hummus should be it's own food group. Yum!


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!!! That car crash must have been so so so scary. And in the middle of the night, wow! I love making cinnamon rolls for brunch, my trade secret: I make the dough, let it rise and then form the rolls the night before and then put them in the fridge overnight. The next morning I take them out a few hours before brunch and then bake right before people come over. Makes the morning brunch prep so much smoother and easier.

Sara said...

Fantastic idea about the dough the night before. Do you let them rise after removing them from the fridge or have they risen all night long? I might do that this year for Christmas because it's tradition for me to make them Christmas day. It's just so much work!