I used to be afraid to use yeast in baking. I only really tried using it last summer for the first time, making pizza dough. I think after a few tries I have gotten the hang of it. The very first time I ‘killed’ the yeast because the water was too hot, you know they’re quite sensitive to heat. But after a few tries you get the hang of it, and realize how warm the water/milk should be for the little yeast granules to ‘live’ and foam up. I make pizza dough quite often now, and I don’t even think I have ever bought a pizza shell from the grocery store since Adam and I began living together last september. Or really any time before then. This month, we decided we wouldn’t spend any money eating out. November and December were both quite busy, and we seemed to be eating out quite a lot. While it is not only costly for the wallet, it’s also not healthy to always be eating at restaurants or fast food. While I don’t think I’ve eaten at a ‘fast food’ restaurant like McDonalds for quite a few years now, we did begin eating a lot of Tim Horton’s this past summer. We have never even ordered take out to our apartment, no pizza deliveries, no Chinese food. The only thing we really ever go out for, or bring back to our house is Sushi, because lets face it you cannot make it as well, or for as cheap as they can at a restaurant. There is no ‘take out menu’ drawer at our place. Only fresh ingredients in the cupboards and fridge.
Adam had to work on the island for three weeks in November, eating out every meal of the day. So when he would come home on the weekend he was happy to be eating healthy meals made at home. So far this month we have not spent any money going out to restaurants. We have however gone out twice now, once with Adam’s parents who took us out to dinner, and once this weekend to the Secret Supper Soiree which I won tickets to. It has been nice not going out to eat. While I do enjoy dining out, I also love to cook myself so it’s not a big deal to stay in. Many people think of going out as a convenience, but making a homemade meal is quite convenient, and there are always leftovers for the next day. We’ve been eating a lot of soups, such as the Italian Ribollita soup I made before, and chili. I have also found that there are many things we buy from a store that we can make ourselves. I even began making granola bars, instead of buying them, as Adam takes a couple with him for lunch every day. They are much healthier, and you can add things like pumpkin and flax seeds.
I remember when I was younger my mother would make pizza dough, and then use the extra to make my brother and I cinnamon buns, and of course my dad who was always wanting ‘something sweet’ for dessert. She would always add raisins and nuts, usually walnuts that we had on hand. It was a special treat when she did. I remember they would disappear quite fast. My mom came over today and got to taste them, I think they are as good as the ones she made us. There’s just something about warm cinnamon buns right from the oven. I had wanted to make these for a while now, but had yet to get around to it. They are worth the wait, and take about two hours from start to finish. We also brought a few over to Adam’s sister, who has a bun of her own in the oven. Adam could become an uncle any day! But for the sake of his sister, not too soon haha. These are perfectly fluffy, and just sweet enough. I didn’t use a large amount of sugar in the dough or in the filling, so you don’t feel too bad eating them 😉 And the whole wheat dough makes them healthy..ish.
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns
adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen
Time: 1 1/2 hours to rise, 20 minutes to bake.
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
- Warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until it reaches 105 degrees. I suggest using a thermometer, I love mine since I bought it and it has come in very handy.
- Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, I used my kitchenaid bowl. Add to the milk 2 1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand until it begins to look foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 eggs, and flour. Using the paddle attachment mix for 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook, and continue for about four minutes until dough becomes smooth. Alternatively, you can knead dough by hand.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large bowl that is well greased, and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Once it has risen, sprinkle some flour on to the countertop and lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick.
- Brush the dough with 1/3 cup melted butter using a pastry brush and sprinkle evenly with sugar and cinnamon. I just used a handful of sugar, and a lot of cinnamon. You can make them as sweet as you like. Cover with nuts and raisins evenly.
- Roll the dough up starting with the longer side and cut into approximately 12 rolls.
- Arrange the rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for about 30 minutes. I also used a muffin tin for the extras, and baked them in that. It worked really well for small cinammon bun/muffins.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.
You can leave them plain, or mix cream cheese with icing sugar to make an icing.
Do you eat out quite often?
Do you prefer cooking at home than dining out?
Have you baked with yeast before? What are your favourite recipes?