Today was errand day. After a quick stop at my favorite coffee shop to satisfy my latte addiction, I headed out all motivated to cross a few things from my overflowing list of errands. The weather was California Indian Summer perfect with temps nearing 80 degrees. With nothing particularly pressing, I set out on my leisurely way of store hopping to make returns and to pick up some supplies for the house. By the second stop I noticed I was feeling a little off, preoccupied, even a little panicked. I had become grumpy and impatient for no apparent reason, at least no reason I could put my finger on at the time. I continued about my business but the feelings followed me like a balloon tied to my wrist. Lingering right out of reach, right in that place between awareness and the subconscious, was a gnawing cloud of unsettledness.
I headed for the store’s pet aisle to stock up on cat food and dog treats. On my way there I bumped into a large area of the store dedicated to Hanukkah and Christmas items. The shiny, sparkly decorations both captivated me and repulsed me at the same time. I forced myself in the other direction and continued my quest for pet supplies. I’ve initiated my own personal boycott against stores promoting Christmas nearly two months prior to it’s actual arrival. Is it just me? Does anyone else feel like life is moving too darn quickly? Is anyone else put off by the earlier and earlier arrival everywhere we look of red, green, tinsel and trees? Once upon a time, we were patient and mindful enough to allow Thanksgiving its moment in the sun before we switched our focus to December 25th.
It was just about then, right in the middle of conducting my own mental tirade that the light bulb went on. I had realized the impetuous for the earlier change in my disposition. To explain, I must back up to my morning latte. As I walked through the doors of the coffee shop, I was taken aback by all the “red” that had seemingly popped up overnight. Shiny red boxes of candy and cookies filled the displays. Bags of red chocolate covered cherries spilled from baskets. I was seeing RED – top to bottom, floor to ceiling. While waiting in line to place my order, my attention turned to a sugar sprinkled Christmas Tree cookie in the case. Wait, what had happened to the orange leaf cookies that were in the case just the day before? Really? I chit-chatted back and forth with the shop’s staff who all seemed to be in agreement with me that the “Christmas Season” is moving inappropriately closer to summer. At this rate, I’m predicting that Black Friday will eventually take place sometime in July.
This is the thing. Part of my aversion to the early arrival of all the Christmas decorations was about the alarm it set off in me. I couldn’t hide. I could no longer deny that it’s coming. It pulled the trigger on my race to the finish line waiting for me at the end of December. Forgetting about Christmas for the moment, we still have Thanksgiving to celebrate. I am hosting my family’s Thanksgiving some 2200 miles away in a rental home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. That is no small feat! There are boxes of decorations, silver, linens and spices to be shipped, and add to that a Menorah, candles, gelt and Hanukkah gifts so we can celebrate the victory of the Maccabees the night before we don our pilgrim hats, give thanks, and eat turkey. I won’t even bore you with the details of how my home has to be completely decorated before I leave for TN because I come back right on the heels of a big holiday party I am throwing at my house. Oh, and did I mention that my husband and I are traveling this weekend and I have jury duty all next week. November is evaporating!
By the time I was two errands away from my latte, my hind brain had started churning up all the planning, details, and deadlines staring me right in the face, which in turn caused the unsettled, agitated feelings I was having. Once I recognized what was truly going on I was able to calm myself down a bit. I re-adjusted my mental calendar, got real about needing to kick things into gear, and made lists. Lots and lots of lists.
My intention is not to rain on anyone’s parade who enjoys getting an early start on their holiday preparations. I love celebrating just as much as the next guy. I just became a little freaked when all those store decorations shook me from my slumber. I’ve caught my breath now. I’m good. I’m good.
If we are planning ahead, and we are right?…then I highly suggest you bookmark this recipe for those breakfasts that call for a little something special during the holidays. What a delicious little cinnamony biscuit to serve to family and friends. My goal when developing this recipe was to simplify the infamous Cinnamon Bun so that I could have the experience of one, minus the time and effort that goes into yeast raised doughs. I think this little gem does just that. Everything goes into the food processor, followed by a simple rolling and filling process. Slice and bake. The mascarpone frosting is optional but highly recommended, especially if your tooth leans more to the sweeter side.
This no yeast, no rise “Cinnamon Bun” biscuit hits all the high notes of the more traditional variety. When you’ve just got to have a Cinnamon Bun and you’ve got to have it now, this biscuit recipe is your ticket. So buttery and tender, it literally melts in your mouth.
Cinnamon Bun Biscuits
6 tablespoons packed, brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for sealing the biscuits)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
Mascarpone Frosting (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse several times to combine.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, and egg yolk. Add the cold diced butter to the flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse a half dozen times or so until the butter is incorporated into the flour, with pea size pieces of butter still visible. With the processor running, slowly drizzle the cream mixture through the feed tube into the processor. Stop the machine as soon as the dough starts to come together.
Remove the dough to a rolling surface dusted with flour. Knead the dough a few times and shape into a square measuring approximately 6 inches. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square measuring 12 inches, making sure your rolling surface remains floured so the dough does not stick. Fold the dough like a letter by bringing the bottom third of the dough over the middle third, then fold the top portion of the dough down over that. Roll the dough again, this time into a 18×9-inch rectangle, with the longer edge running horizontally.
Using an off-set spatula, spread 4 tablespoons of the softened butter on the dough, leaving 1 inch of the top edge free of butter. Sprinkle the butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Brush the upper edge of dough generously with egg white. Beginning at the bottom long edge, roll the dough up towards the top. A subtle lifting and pulling of the dough towards you as you go will insure the biscuits are tightly rolled. Pinch the edge of the dough to seal. (To insure that the biscuits won’t open during baking, be sure to thoroughly seal the dough.) Using a sharp, thin knife, make a clean slice at each end to neaten the roll. Cut the roll in half, then cut each half into seven pieces. Avoid “sawing” through the dough, instead, make a single clean cut. You will have a total of 14 biscuits. Space the biscuits evenly on the prepared sheet. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool. While still warm, frost the biscuits with the Mascarpone Frosting.
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup, sifted, confectioners sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons cream, at room temperature
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, mascarpone cheese, vanilla, and salt, until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and stir until thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Stir in enough cream to reach a thin spreading consistency.
Yield: 14 Biscuits
Source: Mary Weinberg – Sifting Focus