Thursday, July 15, 2010

like juggling anvils

Two weeks until the bar exam, and I think I'm in meltdown mode.

There are too many books with too many pages with too much information that still needs to make the leap to my memory. I keep identifying invalid warrantless searches as valid warrantless searches. I'm still getting race-notice recording statutes and pure notice recording statutes mixed up. And I don't even know where to begin with the accursed Statute of Frauds.

Trying to get a handle on all the subjects is like juggling anvils: they're heavy and unwieldy, and it hurts like hell if you drop one.

As you might imagine, it's unhappy chaos inside my head, and the stress is manifesting itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways. On top of absentmindedness, irritability, and emotional instability, I've also been experiencing random food cravings.

I'm not given to food cravings, your typical human cravings for fat, salt, and sugar aside, so I tend to pay attention when they arise. This week, I wanted cinnamon. I really wanted cinnamon. After two days of cinnamon on yogurt and cinnamon on bananas, and extra cinnamon on cinnamon-raisin bread, I decided it was time to pull out the heavy artillery: cinnamon rolls.

I used a recipe given to me by Bobbie Sue as my starting point, tweaking the proportions to produce rolls that were very soft, more rich than sweet, and definitely cinnamon-y. Just sliding the baking pan into the oven made me feel a little less twitchy.

An hour later, I felt much better. A cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee turned out to be just the fix I needed.

The jury's still out, though, on whether cinnamon does anything for one's anvil-juggling abilities.

Soft Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Adapted from Bobbie Sue's recipe for overnight cinnamon rolls. Glaze inspired by the monkey bread recipe over at Smitten Kitchen.

(Makes one dozen. Recipe not for one, unless you're really prone to stress eating.)

In a large measuring jug, combine one-and-a-half cups of warm milk with a quarter-cup of warm water. Stir in one-and-a-half teaspoons of active dry yeast. Set aside in a warm place to let the yeast develop.

Take five tablespoons of butter, put them in a dish or bowl, and leave out to soften.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together three-and-a-half cups of flour, three tablespoons of white sugar, one teaspoon of salt, and one-and-a-half teaspoons of baking powder.

Check on your yeast mixture. Once it starts to foam a little, it's good to go. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Stick a hand into the bowl and mix until the two are incorporated. The mixture will be quite sticky.

Crack in one egg. Continue kneading. Resist the urge to add more flour.

Turn the dough out on a clean countertop. Knead for ten minutes, or until the dough is smooth. It will still be sticky.

Transfer the dough back to the mixing bowl. Knead in three tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Don't worry if the dough looks like a greasy mess for the first few minutes - it will absorb the butter as you knead.

Once the butter is fully incorporated, shape the dough into a round. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place until doubled in volume - an hour and a half to two hours.

Once the dough has doubled in volume, remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and punch down the dough. It will still be quite sticky.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and place the dough on top. Pull the dough until it is roughly rectangular in shape. Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly twelve-by-ten inches in size. Peel away the top sheet of parchment paper, and spread the dough with the remaining two tablespoons of softened butter. Mix together a quarter-cup of brown sugar with two teaspoons of cinnamon (or more, if you really need a cinnamon fix), and sprinkle the mixture over the buttered dough.

Starting at the twelve-inch side, roll the dough up into a log (use the parchment paper to help.) Pinch the edge and sides to seal.

Lightly grease a nine-by-thirteen inch pan. Cut the dough log into twelve pieces, and arrange them in a single layer in the pan. (Don't worry if there's space between them.)

If you'd like to bake the rolls on the same day, cover the pan in plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for approximately two hours, or until doubled in size. If you'd prefer to bake them the next day, cover the pan in foil and put in the fridge for at least twelve hours (but not longer than twenty-four.)

When you're ready to bake the rolls, preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the rolls for thirty to thirty-five minutes, or until golden on top.

To make the cream cheese glaze, take three ounces of cream cheese and beat with two tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small bowl. Blend in one-quarter cup of milk, a little at a time, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. (Add extra milk if needed.)

While the rolls are still warm, spread with cream cheese glaze. Serve with coffee or tea.

Note: If you're not a fan of cream cheese glaze, you can mix up a powdered sugar frosting using a half-cup of powdered sugar, a quarter-teaspoon of vanilla, and enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency.


photon said...

These are making me so hungry its painful.

ImNobody said...

I was just bemoaning the recording/race notice rat's nest myself this morning. The more I read, the less sense it makes. I'm inclined to try to diagram it somehow, but that also makes no sense. This is an ongoing theme.

Good luck to you!

Kelly Rich said...

You can do it, Adele! (cheers)

Also: totally get the need for brainfail, brainstale baking.

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Totally hear ya, sometimes you just have to give in and eat a cinnamon roll. ;) I've been trying to get to the new Flour Bakery + Cafe for a sticky bun, but have yet to make it over to cambridge yet.

I wish you lots of luck over the next few weeks!

adele said...

Photon - Sorry! We should brainstorm and see if we can work up a gluten-free version...

ImNobody - I think it's the commas that make all the difference, but I may just end up using the "guess blindly and pray" approach.

Kelly - Thank you! And yes, "brainfail baking" describes it perfectly :)

Plum - I hear very good things about Flour's sticky buns. Thank you for the well wishes!

Lindsey @ pickyeatings said...

I think that if I were you I would have given up by now in a fit of rage/tears/frustration and thrown my books out the window and decided that a career in something less stressful was for me. So I applaud you!

I also especially applaud your cinnamon rolls, which reminds me that I have not made them for quite some time, and might need to sometime soon, to get some frustration out.

adele said...

Lindsey - Oh, I'm not doing this to go into law. I'm doing this so that I can be done with my parents' plans and not become a lawyer!

At this rate, I'm thinking that I might be better off opening a bakery. :P

Bobbie Sue said...

I hear your pain! When this is OVER, come up. We'll go for Pho at Pam's.

adele said...

Bobbie Sue - That sounds like a wonderful idea.

~~louise~~ said...

Just reading that stuff sends my mind in a whirl! Looks like you came up with the perfect remedy though, Cinnamon Rolls, oh yea! (temporarily anyway:)

They sounds so darn good I'm hallucinating the smell of cinnamon "as we speak."

Thanks for sharing, Adele. Wishing you tons of patience and stamina...