Guys, I was posting about this on our facebook wall, but I think I need more space to discuss my rich and complex feelings about cinnamon rolls.
First off, I don’t want to make you any false promises. From the start, we of Team Charm have planned to make as much of our food on the premises as possible, both to cut down our own food costs, and to have food that’s both fresher than pre-made food and unique to our fine establishment. We want to do this SO BADLY, but as we get closer to opening and have to make tough decisions about where every crucial opening dollar is going to go, sometimes it looks like we may not immediately be able to make our own baked goods.
Don’t scream! We are idea people, and foodies, and already we’ve got some great alternate menus planned, with all kinds of fresh, delicious foods, including some definite comfort food. (You would think I was constantly distraught, the way I seem to need comfort food almost daily.)
Whether we get to make our own baked goods right away or not, we’ve still been testing recipes. Making a tasty recipe at home and at leisure is one thing. Making the same recipe consistently, quickly, and as part of a day that starts early and includes a lot of other vital prepwork is another. When we try recipes, we try them over and over again, with prep time, storage, and many other concerns in mind.
So, anyway, now you see why I just have to make a ton of cinnamon rolls, all the time, or I’ll be letting down Charmington’s (and all of Baltimore.) As I try to find the recipe and variations that will suit us best, here are some of the things I’m considering.
As a nation, we expect cinnamon rolls to come from tubes, or from a stand at the mall. We want the dough to be fatty with a hefty sodium punch, the icing to be gooey and plentiful, and for the bun to be the size of a big guy’s fist.
But, food in tubes is suspect, and rich in unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives. The cinnamon rolls you get at the mall clock in at 730 calories apiece (or a mere 300 for the “mini” versions).
I worked out the calorie breakdown of the recipe I’ve been messing with lately to about 119 a roll, but since I have literally never been able to eat just one, let’s call it 238 with a serving size of two rolls. The dough is a little drier and a lot less sweet than tube-roll dough, but that’s a bonus, I think, because it keeps the glaze from being overwhelming.
My challenge here is to get the smaller, less fatty, less sweet rolls to be so delicious that the other rolls taste gross in comparison. It is not necessarily rocket science.
Unlike muffins or scones, cinnamon rolls are made with a yeast dough, which means kneading and time (or no-kneading, and even more time.) At home, when I’m baking for fun, I don’t mind kneading dough at all, but at Charmington’s, we can’t afford to have someone come in at 3:00 AM to start bread rising (even if anybody wanted to take a shift that early.) I’m trying a no-knead recipe later this week, which means that dough processes itself over a longer time frame, but this still requires attention to time and a lot of planning. Plus, yeast doughs are high-stakes in that if you burn them or otherwise mess them up, you are now hours behind schedule.
This goes back to the mall rolls again. They are huge, and the tube rolls come in jumbo for a reason: giant breakfast-dessert pastries just seem more inherently awesome than smaller ones. But, seriously, you guys. One reason the mall rolls are so high in calories is that they are enormous.
Even if you’re not concerning about your weight or sugar levels, even if you’re an active person who needs to consume a lot of calories per day, 700 calories of breakfast pastry, she is not so good for you. If nothing else the gigantor roll will take up valuable stomach-space so that you’re less inclined to eat anything with some more nutritional value.
The other thing is, giant portions are inherently wasteful. Wasted if you throw it half-uneaten in the trash, sure, but kind of wasted if you throw it in your body, too.
I’m not trying to be preachy here. I am just trying to tell you some of my thoughts about cinnamon rolls. What are yours?