Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Cinnamon-Raisin Whirls and the hands that knead them
Her hands kneaded the dough for squash rolls, dill bread, chocolate bread, babka. They stirred, mashed, sprinkled, poured, formed, and created wonderful treats right before my eyes. Those hands braided strands of dough into challah, and sometimes formed them into turtles or even body parts when she was feeling spunky. Those hands, with their un-manicured fingernails, were adorned with artsy rings and jingly bracelets. I can see those hands holding a ripe mango (which for some reason chemotherapy had her craving) up to her mouth as the juice ran down her arms, dripping from her elbows. I can see them clearly still because they are like mine, with long, slender fingers perfect for piano.
Sometimes I look down at my hands or my sister's hands when they are working in the kitchen. Those are mom's hands, I think to myself, or sometimes say out loud. I know it's why I love to cook, because (in my mind) she's there with me sometimes. Her voice cautions me to toss something that has been in the fridge too long, urges me to exercise wild abandon with my spices, and tells me never to apologize for anything I put on the table.
Her hands made these cinnamon whirls on many occasions when I was a kid. Now, so many years later, I make them myself, hoping I'll find her standing beside me as I peer nervously into the oven. If only for a second.
These instructions are for use with a KitchenAid Mixer. I made them without, just with the use of a large bowl and wooden spoon. We never iced these in my family, but I'm sharing the icing recipe because I know that some people out there love icing. Baking as instructed, in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, will yield doughy rolls. You can also slice them and arrange them to rise and bake separately on a cookie sheet, in which case the rolls will seem slightly drier. Both methods are delicious.
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 to 5 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
Sprinkle the yeast over the water in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let stand until the yeast is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar (to make 3/4 cup), milk, salt and the softened butter.
Add 3 cups flour. Mix to blend, then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Separate one of the eggs; reserve the white for glazing. Beat in egg yolk and one whole egg, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in about 2 cups more flour to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto the counter or a board coated with some of the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, adding just enough flour to prevent it from being sticky.
Turn dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours). Punch down dough and let rest 10 minutes.
Roll dough out evenly into a 14 by 18 inch triangle. Spread with 1/3 cup softened butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and raisins. Starting from the 18 inch side, roll jelly roll fashion, then moisten a long edge and pinch to seal. Cut roll into 12 equal slices.
Arrange slices, cut sides down, in a well-greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cover lightly with waxed paper. Let rise until doubled in bulk (45 minutes to 1 hour).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, beat reserved egg white with1 tablespoon water. Brush lightly over rolls.
Bake until well browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over warm rolls, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.