On a (cinnamon) roll
I think I haven’t really written about my friend Namrata before. Which is funny given how much a part of each others life we are. Here in Bombay, where the line between family and friends is very blurry, Namrata and Kanu are both family and friends to us.
This year, she has pretty much swept away every single awards there is to be bagged for an editor in the Indian film industry. This, after less than 3 years of leaving film school…
This post is for Namrata. For negotiating Bombay, life, living and loving with me. For all the time we were silly together..giggling at the world..blowing soap bubbles and ‘spreading some joy’ in the middle of Juhu. For being the only foodie I know who turns her nose up at chocolate. For all the times we gorged ourselves silly, felt sick and yet ordered desert. And quoted Rujuta Dwivekar word by word the rest of the evening. And shopped in Bandra. And got drunk waiting for the bhang to hit. And tried on swim suit lehengas for my wedding. And cooked methi mathris, bread and pasta. For the endless conversations about food, cooking, recipes, childhood, friends, lovers, enemies, life, future, dreams, husbands…and so much more that is yet to come. For being the silliest, smartest, girliest tomboyest successful editor I know.Which is why this month has been a very exciting month for all of us. In a flurry of star studded functions, Namrata has been sweeping most of the editing awards this year. The star screen award, the producers guild award and now the Filmfare awards. Watching these awards at close quarters….has been a mixed bag of emotions. To start with, apprehension at having to be in the midst of too many well dressed, good looking people. At the awards, waiting for the moment we would know. Grief and a grudge against God at the observation that some of the actressess are actually strikingly beautiful. (I used to kid myself that it was just lots of expensive treatment and make up). Bewilderment at how Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan can be claimed as ‘alternative’ cinema. Delight and pride in seeing Namrata and Pritam bag the awards. Hope on seeing that a small, unassuming and largely unnoticed film like Udaan can win so much recognition. The realization that conviction and passion notwithstanding, recognition and acceptance are important. Apprehension that this may shake my own little world of defiant idealism.Besides Namrata sweeping all editing awards last year and my being sick with Bronchitis, the other biggie last month was the abundance of bread baking in our house.
Those who know me, know that one of my favorite breads is the homemade cinnamon roll. As a part of my recent love affair with Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible and my lil note of celebration for Namrata, I tried the cinnamon rolls recipe from this book.. The most exciting part for me was that this one included boiled potatoes and I discovered that they make all the difference. The dough was light, silky…almost like an emulsion and Namrata and I had loads of fun rolling out the doug. While the PW rolls are nice and rich, these are feather light with a beautiful crisp exterior. Fresh out of the oven,topped with whipped cream and coffee icing these rolls are very nice and melt in your mouth. They are a bit disappointing the next day and neither the rolls nor the dough keeps very well in the fridge. But who can resist bread that’s just been baked?
I have to say though that while this recipe is great and has definitely converted me to using potatoes in bread baking, my favourite cinnamon rolls recipe remains the recipe at Pioneer Woman’s. Not that this one doesn’t have a place of is own. I know for a fact that Atul prefers this one and this sure beats the PW one on the health quotient. What works for these rolls are its lightness and the crunchy seductive exterior. The PW one on the other hand is less bread like and more cake like, which I think would have a more satisfying universal appeal.
from The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger
Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks – 170 gm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup dark raisins, plump in hot water 10 minutes and drained (optional)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (see NOTE) and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons milk, mixed with 2t coffee powder
1. In a saucepan, combine the potato chunks with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potato, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Let the potato water cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, process the potato with the butter in a food processor fitted with the metal blade just until smooth. This produces 3/4 to 1 cup of puree.
2. Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated or brown sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl with a whisk combine the pureed potato, reserved warm potato water, yeast mixture, remaining granulated or brown sugar, oil, egg, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat hard to combine, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 4 to 6 minutes if kneading by hand. If kneading with dough hook or electic mixer, knead 4 minutes on medium speed. Dust with flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. Take care not to add too much flour, because the dough should be very satiny.
5. Put the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough and let rise a second time until doubled in bulk, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 180°c. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a 10-by-14-inch rectangle at least 1/4 inch thick. Brush the surface of each rectangle with the melted butter. Sprinkle the surface of each rectangle evenly with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with the raisins or currants and nuts, if using. Starting from the long side, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion. Pinch the seams together and, using a serrated knife or dental floss, cut each roll crosswise into 9 equal portions, each 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Place each portion cut side up on the prepared pan at least 2 inches apart. Press gently to flatten each swirl slightly. (Alternatively, place in 18 greased 3-inch muffin-pan cups for a top-knot effect.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature just until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.
8. Put the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Using a metal spatula, transfer to a wire rack.
9. Top with whipped cream. Immediately prepare the glaze by combining the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small mixing bowl and whisking until smooth. Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding more milk, a few drops at a time, to make a pourable mixture. Dip your fingers or a large spoon into the glaze and drizzle it over the rolls by running your hand or the spoon back and forth over the tops.
NOTE: To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts on a sided baking sheet and toast, stirring once or twice, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes for walnuts (halved) and pecans.
TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough may be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, covered with a double layer of plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature 3 to 4 hours before filling and rising.