Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cake of the Week: Banana Nut Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Haraka haraka ha i na baraka!

On our first day learning Swahili, our teacher taught 6x6 and I this Kenyan saying. It means (loosely translated): If you rush there will be no blessings.

What? Don’t hurry? Blasphemy! In DC we’re always rushing, always in a hurry, always working, always with somewhere to go, someone to see, something to do. At least I am – I pride myself on my ability to work quickly, to cram an insane number of things into each day, week, and month.

I will probably always be that kind of person…but I’m trying to relax, trying to take more time living in the moment and really appreciating my blessings.

For example, these cinnamon rolls. Banana Nut Nutella Cinnamon Rolls. They’re not meant to be tossed into a Tupperware to eat at my desk after a morning workout and between emails. They’re meant to be enjoyed with a leisurely cup of coffee and a good book

They’re meant to be meticulously peeled, each banana-flavored piece revealing a sticky sweet cinnamony nutty chocolatey filling, and dripping with Nutella. That is what I call a baraka (blessing)!

This was my second foray into yeasty sweets (remember the Overnight Cinnamon Rolls?) They came out deliciously, but I think I let them rise too long (so follow the recipe on that point!). If you don’t have a warm sunny place, put the dough under a desk lamp.

They’re just the right amount of banana flavored – you can taste it, but it’s not overpowering.

Banana Nut Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

1 + 1/4 cup banana puree
2 eggs
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, not whole wheat)
3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)

Filling (I doubled this):
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

a heaping 1/2 cup Nutella
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk – add until it makes a thin spreadable glaze

1. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you've made a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until it's almost doubled in bulk.

3. In a small bowl whisk sugars, cocoa, cinnamon and nuts to make the filling. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll into a 16" x 22" rectangle. Drizzle butter over top and spread evenly with a pastry brush, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top leaving about a half an inch of a short edge free on the end.

4. Starting with the short end that's covered with filling, carefully roll the dough into a log.

5. Cut the log into ten 1 ½"-thick rolls. I rolled them out very thin (about ¼ inch), which meant more filling and more swirls to peel away, and a lot more smaller cinnamon rolls (I ended up with about 18). But if you’d prefer a more bread-y and bigger/thicker cinnamon roll, roll the dough out thicker.

6. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9" x 9" pan that's at least 2" deep (if you make more smaller rolls, you will need 2 pans). Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

7. Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're lightly browned and feel set. Remove them from the oven.

8. Combine all of the topping ingredients with a wisk or hand mixer and drizzle over cinnamon rolls. 

*Adjust the amount of water by the time of year or your climate. For summer, or in a humid environment, use the lesser amount of water. In winter, or in a dry climate, use the greater amount. It's always best to start with the lesser amount; you can add more as needed.

Ni na penda kula breakfast! (I love to eat breakfast!)