Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Willpower please!

I have a problem. It feels quite serious.

I had not been baking bread. But this is not really the problem. I knew it was just a matter of time until we felt settled in and I could resume such domestic duties. I make sandwich and toast breads in the bread machine and dinner rolls and loaves with my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book.

Here is where the problem begins. Instead of making my reliable Olive Oil dough recipe for pizza crusts and round, crusty loaves, I skimmed the book for new ideas. Uh-oh! First I hesitated on the Challah dough recipe. For those of you not familiar with the recipe, it makes four 1-pound loaves but takes 4 eggs and 1 stick of butter. It makes delicious bread, tasty and light. But, instead of hurrying to start mixing up my dough, I turned the pages and my eyes fell upon the Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls. This is where the problem really, really begins.

Growing up my mom made tasty cinnamon rolls at the holidays. You made the dough and let it rise and punched it down and let it rise. Then, you rolled it out, spread it with butter, and sprinkled on cinnamon sugar and pecans. Next you rolled it into a long jelly-roll log. From there, my mom would shape it into a candy cane or wreath, snipping and gently turning the rolls for a lovely display. After baking, it was drizzled with icing, and decorated with alternating halved maraschino cherries and whole pecans. If it was a wreath, it got a red bow too. It was a process, often made over and over again for holiday gifts to neighbors and friends. And I have the recipe, to make whenever I want, anytime of year. But I never make them, even at the holidays, because I am lazy. Since I started making dough the way described in Artisan Bread (a big bucket full, to make four loaves whenever I want) I simply do not have any desire to make bread the traditional way anymore (except my foccacia recipe, but that is for another time!).

So when I stumbled on to the Caramel Rolls recipe, my mind’s gears started turning. What if I took the dough they recommended for their rolls, but ignored their recipe, just substituting my simple cinnamon roll steps instead? Okay, this is not a huge leap, but I hate experimenting, which has the potential to waste ingredients and my time if something fails. The trouble with this particular dough, which by now my mouth was watering over, is the Brioche dough. This dough comes with 8 eggs and 3 sticks of butter. Yes, it makes four 1-pound loaves, but still, three sticks of butter!

I have been trying to lose weight. I want to shed the baby (babies!) weight I still have hanging around. Before moving I had exercised for a whole year and had lost only five pounds. True, my cholesterol scores were greatly improved, but I wanted some lower numbers on the scale too. Since moving here, I came to some conclusions that have helped me already lose five more pounds.

  1. I have to combine exercise and good eating skills (not a diet). I feel happier and healthier when I exercise which makes it easier to eat healthier foods.
  2. Even if I eat less at a meal, I still feel pretty full, as full as if I ate the whole portion.
  3. Leaving food as leftovers, saving treats for another day, or skipping food (like a cookie at the coffee shop) is always okay. I can always make it another day or buy it another day.

It seems pretty simple, but it is essentially willpower. The beauty of this plan is I still give myself the luxury of eating cookies, ice cream, or any snack I wanted, but just in moderation. Remembering step number 3 has been my saving point. Until a yesterday, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Yesterday, I made the rolls.

One lone roll, just waiting to be eaten

So you can seem my problem. Favorite cinnamon rolls + easy to whip-up recipe = eating out of control. When they are hot out of the oven, my willpower melts like the sweet sugary cinnamon inside these rolls.

So, while I muster up my willpower, I will direct you to the brioche recipe and get you started on your own batch. Isn’t that nice of me? I find these little sweeties so good I do not add any icing. I suppose that is for the better!

To make these, you will need:

Brioche dough, made in advance and chilled
extra flour, for rolling
cooking spray or shortening, for pan
glass baking or pie pans

Spray your glass pans with cooking spray or grease them up. Mix about ½ cup sugar, give or take, with 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon and set aside. Chop ½ to 2/3 cups pecans and set aside. Take ¼ of the brioche dough, and roll it out on a thin cutting mat with a moderate amount of flour under and on top of the dough to reduce sticking to maybe ½ inch thick, or so. Spread the surface with butter or margarine I love margarine for some recipes so I spread that on nice and thick. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar all over the butter or margarine and top that with pecans. Time to jelly roll it up! Add flour to your fingers to help it along, if dough is at all sticky. Once rolled, using sharp kitchen scissors, cut into 1 ½ inch thick rolls and place into pan with room for expansion (inch around, give or take, but they can be up against edges). Cover and let rise 60 minutes. Start oven heating to 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes before rise time ends. Bake rolls 20-30 minutes, checking every few minutes for golden brown edges on top. Serve directly from the pan, hot or cool.

And try to share with your family and not eat too many. Maybe this little story will be inspiring as we all search for willpower!

**Apparently, I have none. The roll seduced me while I photographed it. That tantalizing swirl was too much. I ate it. End of story.**

And, AND, I just found another great recipe to use up more of that brioche dough. See, this is a serious problem!


  1. "My willpower melts like the sweet sugary cinnamon inside these rolls." Best. Line. Ever. :)

  2. Thanks for the recipe! I will be tempting myself soon :)