An Abundance of Lemons

Here’s how it happened, and I apologise in advance for taking you on such a circuitous journey, but this is how I make cooking decisions. Sue me.

Earlier this week, I was in Sainsburys and decided on a whim that I was going to make myself a salad, together with that lovely salad dressing I mentioned in a previous post LINK, which of course meant I needed a lemon. But I wanted unwaxed, and there weren’t any being sold singly. So the supermarket conspiracy to make me spend money succeeded once again, and I went back to the office with a bag of five unwaxed lemons.

I mentioned to colleagues that I had more lemons than I needed and offered a spare lemon to anyone who could use it. Unfortunately they had other ideas. It is gratifying as a cook to have your food appreciated, and living on my own, I rely on colleagues to help me polish off sweet treats and generally stroke my cookery ego. But how quickly that turns from unanticipated appreciation to establishing a sense of entitlement. Rather than take up my offer of a lemon, freely given, I faced instead demands for lemony baked goods. Cheeky devils!

I don’t remember where I came across it to plant the idea, but over the last few weeks I’ve had a hankering to make cinnamon rolls. I’m not even sure I’ve ever eaten one before, let alone made one. But the idea of cinnamony goodness would not go away. So online I went again. Tricky though. The internet is so full of different cinnamon rolls recipes, you’d be forgiven for thinking it rivals porn in popularity. A lot of them are American, and therefore include unfamiliar indredients or bizarre measuring systems. Others just sounded far too energetic (why – for a rolled dough recipe – would you separate the dough into the number of pieces before rolling each and every one, rather than making one big roll and chopping it up afterwards? It eludes me). In the end, I settled on this recipe as my basic approach, but quite enjoyed this one for hints and tips which I duly employed.

When my thoughts turned this morning to my abundance of lemons, I went on an online hunt for a lemon recipe that piqued my interest. Unfortunately there was already an idea in my head that could not be dislodged. And it had nothing to do with lemons.

  • The biggest cheat was using my breadmaker to prepare the dough, but I had other things to be getting on with and was feeling lazy. However this meant I wasn’t confident the recipe as it stood would fit (recipe said 630-700g of flour; max capacity of my breadmaker is 600g), so I halved all the ingredients – just as well as half the quantity made 16 rolls!
  • As a result of using the breadmaker, I just bunged all the dough ingedients in together, rather than the carefully ordered method set out in the recipe, although I did melt the butter into the milk first (interesting mix – fatty, guilty butter, melted into skimmed milk – do they balance out, do you think?), before putting it in the breadmaker.
  • To my shame, I did not have enough plain flour, so had to top up with strong flour. Oh well…
  • Rather than use light brown sugar, I used a mix of dark brown sugar and golden caster sugar.
  • I added sultanas and mixed peel to the filling. No idea how much; I just scattered them over the dough in what felt like suitable proportions.
  • I went my own way with the glaze. Returning to the lemon issue, I instead used the topping from this recipe (although I used a combination of icing sugar and golden caster sugar to ring the changes). Although I could not be deterred from cinnamon rolls today, if my colleagues are very nice to me, I might make these cakes next weekend.

So how did it go? Next time I’ll use a bit more flour in the dough, as it was just too sticky to roll out when it came out of the breadmaker. I put it in a bowl to rise a bit more; rather imaginatively (some people might call it dippy), I put it in the dishwasher for 45 minutes, as I’d just done a load and it was nicely sauna-ish in there. I did the same thing to soften the butter. I wouldn’t have been able to roll it at all without the healthy dusting of flour on the working surface, which then needed quite a bit of supplementing.

And as for how they taste? Well, look at them…

cinnamon may 2011

How do you think they taste? I polished off four before even taking the picture. It’ll be a miracle if any last until Monday, diet or no diet. The mixture of the cinnamon filling and the lemon topping is just lovely. I might add a bit of cinnamon to the dough next time, but it’s hardly a disaster without. Yum.

Book I’m reading at the moment – Finished the Christie, and back with Canavan. If you’ve never read They Came To Baghdad, it’s worth a read. It’s a standalone one and draws heavily on her own experiences of Baghdad and archeological digs. While the attitude is colonial, it’s not so wince-inducing as to intrude.

Honourable Theatre Mention – I went to see In A Forest Dark And Deep last night. It was very good, although I came out with some unsettling ideas about how the playwright sees women.

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