Today I baked like a woman possessed. I have seen The Exorcist, and it wasn’t that kind of sweary, head-spinning possession, so Im figuring it was a much friendlier ghost that possessed me. Maybe Julia Child? Everything I made today turned out well, and I was irrepressibly cheerful and Google tells me that she passed away in 2004, so it’s entirely possible. I don’t mean to get all “It was a ghost” on you guys, but really, all the evidence points in one direction.
First up was a simple pumpkin bread with dried cranberries and pecan bits. I didn’t take a picture because it was a gussied up boxed mix, but it turned out splendidly. I made two pans of it– one decoy cake for the family to try today, and one for the freezer for midmorning teatime with company.
It’s funny that I make decoy cakes, but that’s how it has to be with Batman in the house. If she sees a baked item cooling, she will help herself to it, regardless of whether she’s been explicitly forbidden to do that very thing or not. Frosting gets poked, the cookies dwindle until there are only 3 left on the cooling rack (“there’s still some left. Maybe if I space them out evenly, mom won’t notice 90% are missing?”), and cakes end up gouged. Its impossible to recover from in any aesthetically pleasing way. She can help herself to the test batch, make suggestions on how it might be better, and most importantly, leave the real baked goods alone.
Anyway. The pumpkin bread was pretty darned good. The “recipe” is simply to make the mix as Ms. Crocker tells you, then stir 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried cranberries into the mix before pouring in your pan and baking.
It was easy. Too easy, as a matter of fact. I understand how those prepackaged cakes are great for the career gal (that’s what we call them, way back here in nineteen-fif-sixty-mumblemumble) but it wasn’t really what I had in mind for baking today, so I ended up developing a recipe.
Wait. That sounds far too fancypants and gives me far too much credit for knowing what I’m doing in the kitchen. I did develop a recipe, but it was more because I didn’t realize until halfway through making a recipe that I was out of a key ingredient or six and had to substitute on the fly. You know how your home ec teacher told you to alwaysalwaysalways read through recipes before you actually did anything, just in case you didn’t have everything you needed? Naw. Unnecessary. Just have a sense of adventure and call it ‘recipe development’, and you’ll be fine.
Recipe I kind of invented: The Fruited Cinnamon Roll Things, or, “What happened to all of the raisins?!”
Dough of your choosing, dried fruit, spices, butter, brown sugar.
Use your favorite cinnamon roll dough. I made mine in a breadmaker’s dough cycle, because I felt far more like pushing a button than actually kneading. Use your breadmaker, make it the old fashioned way, or use some pre-made cinnamon roll/pizza dough from your grocery refrigerator case. Seriously, do whatever you want. Even if I were going to come to your house and judge you for your choice, you could be condescending and tell me that you were simply developing a recipe, and there’s nothing at all that I can say about that. Fair’s fair, and shhhh…. I do this all the time.
For the filling, I used 1 1/2 cups chopped up dried fruit mix (apples, apricots, peaches and plums) and a handful/end-of-the-bag of pecan bits, tossed with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, 1 tsp of ginger, and a dash of salt because the salt shaker dropped out of the cupboard and landed in my bowl, spilling some. I’d say a scant 1/16 tsp of salt, but feel free to omit that part because it’s messy, unnecessary and startling. Use what you want though– I’m not here to tell you how to live your life or how to bake fruit into things.
Roll out the dough, brush with 2 tbsp melted butter, then sprinkle about 2/3 of the filling mix on to the dough. Roll it up and pinch to seal.
Lightly spray your pan with baking spray, then melt 1 tbsp of butter in there, and sprinkle the rest of the filling mix into the pan.
Slice the filled roll, then place slices into the prepared pan. Let rise again until doubled in size, which for me was about an hour.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown and your house smells ah-MAY-zing.
Since I had no idea how to make a glaze, I sort of winged it. I know it’s this thin frostingy stuff that has no flavor other than “toothhurtingly sweet”, so I aimed for that. I used 2 tbsp of milk, a dash of powdered ginger, and 2 tbsp of date molasses in a glass measuring cup, then topped up the measuring cup with confectioner’s (icing) sugar until it measured just over a cup. I stirred it until it was smooth, then drizzled over the warm rolls.
Johnny Rotten deemed them “blue ribbon at a state fair” good.
Batman’s response to them was “Mrrrrrhhmmmmpphhmm”, with two thumbs up, because her mouth was full.
They’re really rich. They’re really sweet. They’re really great for getting rid of those ends of boxes of dried fruit that I had sitting in my pantry.
You know, maybe I didn’t actually channel the ghost of Julia Child today. I think I did something more important: I channeled the spirit of Julia Child, and I couldn’t be happier about that.