Do I love Valentine's Day? Well, let's see. I do not love a day where people are obligated to buy random things they could purchase any other day of the year for their significant others. I do not love going to the grocery store and finding that chocolate chips are out of stock because suddenly everybody had the brilliant idea of making cookies. And I certainly do not love having pink and red everything shoved down my throat. Wow, I sound like a grinch (or something similar).
Here is what I do love. I do love the elementary-kid version of Valentine's Day. You know the one? With little cartoon themed valentines and a big party with those candy conversation hearts (they tasted disgusting but were fun to glue onto construction paper). When I have kids, I am totally taking off work and volunteering to chaperone the VDay party. Mark my words. This type of Valentine's Day touted love that wasn't forced or fake-y romantic. It more was a representation of the feelings we have towards our friends and families. And significant others, every day that isn't Valentine's Day when you're just lounging around, drinking spiked coffee, and perusing the "moods" feature on the Songza app. That type of love I am on board with: grinch status revoked.
With the impending doom of Boards, I decided to finally tackle a culinary challenge which has terrified me literally forever: bread. Whenever I see "yeast" listed as an ingredient I immediately move on to another recipe - I associate it with "long time to make" and "easy to screw up." But like I said in an earlier post, I've been feeling very much in sync and confident lately - I suppose that's what being in a healthy relationship does for a gal. Imagine that. I have also really REALLY been wanting cinnamon rolls. Yes, it only took 3 paragraphs, but I finally revealed what recipe I'll be sharing this post.
My mom made Nutella rolls this summer with a potato dough and they were amazing. Like, I'm glad I'm moving to Iowa because maybe I can convince her to make them for me in exchange for driving the 6 hours to Michigan on the weekend. Her recipe required the use of a bread maker, which I do not have, so I scoured the web reading different variations of potato dough recipes which only required one's hands and a bowl. I settled on this one - below I've tried to break it down with lots of pictures.
Caramel Cinnamon Rolls (I cut the recipe in half and it made about 12 rolls - more than enough)
*fun fact: the recipe I used was from a lady in Iowa (my future hometown)!!
For the dough
1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I used Russet)
1/2 cup reserved potato water
6 Tbs butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot water
1 env Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
One of the most exciting parts about making dough from scratch was that I got to break out my dough hook for the first time!
Take the potato, peel it, then cut into tiny pieces. Cook them in boiling water - if you overcook a little, that's fine. Before draining the potatoes, reserve about a cup of the water. Mash and set aside.
Combine potatoes, potato water, butter, sugar, salt and hot water in a mixing bowl. Stir until butter melts, then set aside to cool.
Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in small bowl.
Let rest 5 minutes.
In the mixer add the egg, a cup of flour, and the yeast mixture to the potato mixture. Beat until well combined. Continue adding flour, 1 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. This took me about 5 minutes.
Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm area for about an hour - it'll double in size.
Make the caramel sauce (recipe below)
Punch down and roll into a rectangle - about 1/2 inch thick. I rolled the dough pretty thin, actually, so there would be a lot of layers. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and slather it over the dough. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough.
Start at one end of the rectangle and roll the dough into a log - tightly, so there are lots of layers.
Cut into 1/2 inch slices.
For the caramel sauce (I used Ree Drummond's recipe and altered...nothing)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup half and half
1 Tbs vanilla
Pinch of salt
Mix everything together over medium/medium high heat.
Whisk gently 5-7 minutes. It'll eventually bubble up a lot, but then it calms down. If you want the caramel sauce to be thicker, let it cook a little longer.
Pour the sauce into a cake pan (put a parchment paper liner at the bottom, first- this makes the rolls easy to turn out later.)
Arrange the sliced rolls in the pan with a little space in between them.
Let rise another hour or so until they have, again, doubled in size.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick to be sure the inside isn't raw. You can invert the whole pan for a pretty presentation, or just serve individually.