Friday, August 11, 2017

Cinnamon Roll Dough, Attempt #1 (aka "Dough-us Ex Machina")

A while back, a friend of mine asked whether I thought there would be a big difference between yeast dough made in a mixer and yeast dough made by hand. You see, she doesn't have a big stand mixer, and so she was looking for input into whether or not to buy one.

I have a "mid-range" Kitchen Aid (full disclosure: we have two in the house, because we each had one before we combined households), and so I thought it would be fun to try to make the same dough twice to see which way turned out best.

She sent me the recipe she'd been using, so I decided to start with the original version (which calls for the mixer), and - since we've been having some cool days, lately - decided to try them out yesterday.

In case you can't read it, this comes from "BakeFromScratch.com".

(The final line says "about 1 hour.")


It kind of looks like an ad for the dairy farmers' association, doesn't it?
It seems important to mention - since we're doing the Stand Mixer version this week - that the recipe calls for both a "flat paddle" attachment and a dough hook. So I made sure I could find both of them. (We don't often use the dough hook.)
I'm listening to Finding Neverland as I write this up, and wondering about a character with a Dough Hook for a hand...
I don't work with a lot of yeast doughs - which, coincidentally, I initially typed as "doubts" - so I'm a bit nervous around them. I needed to start by warming 3/4 cup of whole milk, so I set up a mini double boiler on the smallest burner of our range, and put our meat thermometer to work.  
Meat thermometers don't have clips, so it kept trying to fall out.
It's a bit of a challenge to do this, since you can't have the thermometer probe touching the bowl, because that will most likely be hotter than the contents. (If any of you work with yeasts a lot, I'd love some recommendations on how you deal with this kind of thing.)

The recipe, as you may have noticed, is big on weights instead of volume measurements. But I have no idea how much yeast is in 7 grams. Of course, if I had yeast packets, I'd have been set, but we have a jar (in the freezer), so I got out our scale. Which only measures in even numbers. Oy.
Yes, I could have googled the equivalencies (7g = 2.25tsp), but I didn't think about that.
Now we get to one of the things that just really weirds me out about yeast: the whole "it's alive and eats" thing.
Looks yummy, doesn't it?
The house was right on the borderline of too cool for this to all work, so I moved the yeasty milk out to our screen porch where, about 10 minutes later we had definitely gotten some bubbles.

I don't know that I'd say it was "foamy" but it was definitely doing something. So I figured we were on our way.

In the meantime, I'd melted butter and added that to egg and sugar and sour cream in the mixer.
And you thought the bubbly yeast-milk looked weird... 

Meanwhile, in the world of dry ingredients, another really exciting photo of multiple white substances in a bowl: 

Luckily, the dry quickly went into the wet so that it could get stirred together with the flat paddle.

And, yes, there is a "stir" setting on a Kitchen Aid mixer, though I don't know why it's not a numbered stop on the list.
If "Off" is 0, couldn't this be 1?
Because there was so much dry, it kind of formed a cookie-dough-textured mess. Which is when the yeasty-milk comes in:
Ohh... it looks like the dough is glowing.
At first, this really turned out kind of weird looking. I'm glad I've worked with doughs of other kinds enough to know that things have a tendency to come together if you give them a chance. 
 
An action shot or two later, and that...
...became this: (And I switched to the dough hook.)
Kitchen Aid mixers are known for being able to handle large amounts of dough without any problems, so I wasn't worried about turning this on and letting it go. And "go" it did: 

If you look closely and compare where the spilled flour on the counter is between these two photos, you'll see that the mixer, in fact, "went" about four inches to the side while kneading the dough.

I'm not sure whether that would have been avoided if I had locked the mixer head down, but it was quite noisy and spectacular as it was.
The instructions say that, if the dough is "sticky" you'll want to add more flour. As it was mixing (it kneads for 4 minutes in the mixer), I was noticing that dough was sticking to the sides of the bowl.

When I stopped it, it looked... well... like this:
Yeah. I'm going to vote that we had serious stickitude going on:
A bit more flour, and suddenly this is what I saw in the bowl as it spun around:
That's definitely more of the "smooth and elastic" dough that I was expecting.

Now, I must say that the challenge I was facing in this was basically finished at this point. I'd been tasked to compare making this dough by hand versus using the machine, after all, so this is attempt number one completed. It was fairly easy, not too messy, and came together pretty quickly (about 40 minutes, not including amassing ingredients - and that includes all the "photo stops").

Of course, it would be silly to just stop there and have a ball of dough with no purpose in life. (Not to mention that that sounds a lot like how I feel some mornings when I'm between freelance projects...)

But, to give you a true feeling of how this recipe came together, I think we're going to have to wait until next week to actually get into the cinnamon rolls. You see, at about this point in the preparation I got a call from Christopher inviting me to meet him out for dinner. And, well, I wasn't about to turn down dinner out with my husband - not even for cinnamon rolls, and not even for the "scientific research" I was doing for my blog.

So, as I set the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and then covered it loosely and set it atop the fridge, I also left for dinner. And, thus, I leave you with this final image of the dough until we reconvene next week:

Sometime in the next few days I also plan to make this dough by hand, to see if that drastically changes how much time it takes.

And then, yes, we'll get into the whole "cinnamon rolling" of the dough. I promise.

Spoiler alert! They turned out looking like this: 


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Have a recipe you'd like me to try out - or a question you want me to tackle? Let me know! It might take a while (I admit that I do follow baking whims), but I promise I'll do my best to check it out for you!

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