Junction City is a small Oregon community that's quiet these days. One of the town's major employers recently closed their doors and left many of the town's 5000 people without work. Despite that, this resilient community is going ahead with its annual Daffodil Festival. The event includes nine miles of roadside daffodils, the small town version of a carnival and an assortment of refreshments that includes buns in guises ranging from cinnamon to beefcake (more about this in a bit). Inspired by Lady Bird Johnson's call to beautify America, Faye Moffett planted a handful of extra daffodil bulbs along the road near her house in the 60's. She planted a few more each year and urged her neighbors to do the same. Motorists soon learned of the lovely daffodil-lined street and began to drive along it when the flowers bloomed in March. The Daffodil Festival began in 1972, when Mrs. Moffett and her friends invited the drivers to join them at the Long Tom Grange for some homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee. Bulbs planted by a single gardener evolved into an event that's a marvelous way to showcase the spirit of a town devoted to community and family. The Long Tom Grange - a fraternal organization - took over the festival several years ago when its popularity overwhelmed its founders. Initially, Mrs. Moffett and her friends baked the cinnamon rolls and buns themselves. Now, the Junction City High School "cinnamon specialists" bake the rolls and sticky buns and deliver them to the festival. There are no strangers here. Once in the Grange hall you're treated like a member of the family and you might find yourself sitting at a table with an an organic farmer, a doctor or a mechanic. Status doesn't count for much here. Folks share a pot of coffee and chat like old friends as they eat their buns. If you're lucky you may run into one of the now famous Calendar Guys from the Long Tom Grange. Several years ago this group raised a quarter of a million dollars from sales of their nude calendar. The calendar caused a dustup later in the year when organizers of the Scandinavian Festival refused to sponsor the calendar guys and some schools talked about refusing funds from calendar sales. It made for some lively town meetings, but turned out to be a non-event. Despite vocal moral outrage the money went to its designated targets; it did, however, put a damper on the calendar fun. Sometimes you just can't win. Now back to cinnamon rolls. I collect recipes for cinnamon rolls. Today's recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and, in keeping with their policy, I'm printing an unaltered version of their recipe. This was the first time I used this recipe and, while it's nice, it's not one of my favorites. I remain partial to brioche type doughs. If you're looking for a fairly simple recipe for cinnamon rolls, you might want to give this one a try. They'd be great for Easter Sunday breakfast.
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 1/4 - 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup raisins , golden or dark (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice (optional)
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the dough: Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Cool to lukewarm (about 110 degrees).
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle yeast over warm water in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle. Beat in sugar and eggs and mix at low speed to blend. Add salt, lukewarm milk mixture, 2 cups of flour; mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to dough hook attachment. Add 1 1/4 cups flour, and knead at medium-low speed, adding additional flour sparingly if dough sticks to sides of bowl, until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes.
3. Turn dough onto work surface. Squeeze dough with a clean dry hand. If dough is sticky, knead in up to 1/2 additional cup flour to form a smooth, soft, elastic dough. Transfer dough to a very lightly oiled large plastic container or bowl. Cover top of container with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Ideal rising temperature is 75 degrees.) After rise, punch down center of dough once (can be refrigerated, covered, up to 18 hours). Making sure not to fold or misshape dough, turn it onto unfloured work surface; let dough rest, to relax, about 10 minutes.
4. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
5. Roll dough with rolling pin into an evenly shaped 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Brush dough liberally with milk and sprinkle an even layer of cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2 -inch border along one of the long sides. Sprinkle 1/2 cup raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts over cinnamon mixture. Roll, beginning with the long side of the rectangle. Use both hands to pinch dough with fingertips as you go, sealing edges firmly to form a seam. Cut into 12 even pieces using dental floss (or serrated knife with cutting board) and arrange in prepared pan.
6. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rise until double in size (rolls will touch), about one hour. When rolls are almost fully risen, adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Bake until golden brown and thermometer inserted in center roll registers 185 to 190 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Invert rolls onto wire rack. Cool to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes.
8. For the icing: Whisk sugar, milk, and vanilla in small bowl until smooth. Reinvert rolls and place rack over piece of parchment or wax paper. Drizzle icing over rolls with spoon. Cut or pull apart to separate, and serve. Yield: 12 rolls.
I'm sending this recipe to Yeast Spotting a blogging event sponsored by Susan at Wild Yeast.