Friends, we have so much catching up to do. I promised before I went to the Bahamas that when I got back, I’d have some cool stuff to share, but somehow it is over four weeks later and we are really overdue for a chat. Plus, it’s Tax Day and I’ve been moping around all week with my pockets inside out since I was presented with a bill with an impossible number of zeros after it, and hey, wouldn’t we all rather focus on the cheerful stuff? Of course. So without further ado:
The Smitten Kitchen is moving: Well, not urls, thank god (though in a fit of obsessiveness last week, I decided at once to go on a domain shopping spree and you can now get here via smittenkitchen.org, smittenkitchen.info or smittenkitchen.net. Wish I could go on normal people shopping sprees, like for shoes.). But as I have alluded to — namely through griping about the packing and the sorting and the boxes, and lord, the boxes — we’ve found a new apartment and we’re moving this weekend. And we can’t wait. I lived in the East Village when I first moved to NYC in 2000, and am thrilled to have found an excuse to move back. Perhaps I’ll even check out this “Trader Joes” you kids are always going on about!
But who cares about the neighborhood? Let’s get down to the brass tacks. That sound you hear? It’s the sky opening up and the angels singing in the new smitten kitchen, as there is a large white machine whose sole purpose is to wash dishes for us. I can barely handle all of this excitement at once. Alex, who we all know deals with the brunt of the dishes here, is already wondering whether we can just pack up this week’s dirty dishes and just wash ’em when we arrive this weekend. The jury is still out on that one.
So that’s the good news. The bad news? The kitchen is smaller. Oh, I know those of you with your expansive kitchens with yards of counter space and cabinets aplenty think that our current kitchen was pitifully small, but I’m telling you, for New York City, it was nothing to complain about. It was downright dreamy and I told it so all of the time. The new kitchen is a lot more of what you’d expect on this island, and I’m not going to lie: I’m terrified. Does this mean no more wedding cakes? What about truffle dredging stations? But I know I’ll eventually adapt; it is my way. Besides, the floor is adorably checkered and there’s a nice little window — I’m warming to it already.
The Smitten Kitchen is going to cow country. People, it has killed me to keep this from you all of these months because I could not be more excited if … I just couldn’t be more excited. A few days after this weekend’s move, Alex and I are packing our blue jeans and our kicks (Note to self: Buy “kicks”!) into suitcases and heading out to visit The Pioneer Woman on her ranch, and stay in her Lodge. Yes, that ranch. Yes, in that Lodge. Ree and I hope to spend the weekend cooking up a storm, city versus country style while Alex is out in the field, no doubt getting hazed by her two boys for his City Slicker ways. There will be pictures. There butter by the pound. And considering that the closest I’ve been to cows, perhaps ever, is that blurry picture you see above from upstate New York — blurry because I was skittering away because, wow, cows are tall and kinda scary up close — this trip should be a source of endless amusement for my friends and family, and hopefully you as well. We cannot wait.
There are buns in ovens. It’s true! After pining over Molly Wizenberg’s Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze for more than a year now, I couldn’t take it anymore and baked them up this weekend (when I was supposed to be cleaning out my closet). Hot damn, people. Do not wait as long as I did, you’ll be filled with regret and …
Yes, I am dodging the subject again; burying the lede, if you will. There is, you see, an actual bun in the Smitten Kitchen oven. As much as I have tried to deny it and as much as it has even now really not sunk in yet, evidence has mounted since the beginning of this year — in the form of incomparable adorableness on ultrasound screens, the sudden appeal of stretchy-waist jeans and an incessant need to nap the days away — that we’ve got a wee little person on the way. I’m due in September, and we’re pretty stoked.
[P.S. You still get cinnamon buns, I mean, when you make your own. We didn’t save you any.]
One year ago: Caramelized Shallots (Do yourself a favor and make these today. They are that good.)
Makes 18 buns. Note I did not say “servings”. That’s between you and your buns.
Psst, update 11/15/13: These days, my favorite bun dough is this newer one. It yields 12 taller, more tender and rich buns. Notes are included at the bottom about how to use it for classic cinnamon buns, or apple-cinnamon buns.
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (You may also use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process.) Form into ball.
Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.
Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven (we baked them in a ramekin, incapable of discarding such deliciousness) cut remaining dough crosswise with thin sharp knife (a good serrated worked well here) into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes (an 8-inch square metal pan worked just fine, too) with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes, though yours, like mine, may take longer. Don’t skimp on the double-rising time.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
For glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: These buns were best the day they were baked. The second day, they were on the tough side. If you anticipate wanting them over a few days, glaze them to order, heating the buns beforehand to soften them up.