“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gable
I am infinitely thankful.
At any moment I can turn my head and find a reason to be deeply grateful. Not just grateful for life, and relatively good health, and shelter, and food, but for the beyond-necessity blessings that are constantly surrounding me.
It's too much. It's an overwhelming, all-encompassing, never-ending Christmas morning life that I am living right now and I love it.
Yet, though thankfulness is abundant, and blessings even more ubiquitous, I still find myself fighting anxiety, stress, and frustration with every Prius in my vicinity that insists upon driving twenty miles under the posted speed when I have an errand list to conquer.
Perhaps all of the blessings have disillusioned me into thinking the world cares much more about me than it actually does. Or perhaps, I am simply a selfish human that forgets all too easily the mountains of goodness that surround me, and instead focuses on the one imperfect stone at my feet.
I cry tears of joy as I watch my dearest friends, relatives, and fellow sojourners of this life come together to make this great change in my life so special. Then somehow, my entire morning is fogged because of a broken bottle of truffle oil. Completely replaceable truffle oil. Why?
I would like to blame it on hormones or stress, or the fact that truffles are just very dear to my heart, but truthfully, it is none of those things. It is my selfishness.
There is no eloquent way to state it.
On these days when everything is going so wonderfully, the slightest road bump can ignite a meltdown, and this is simply because I am thinking far too much about Ashlyn.
That is why I baked these rolls. I made these cinnamon rolls to counteract my own self-absorbed tendencies. I made them to get my mind off of all that I had to do, and onto someone else.
Through self-examination, and much more experience than I would willingly admit, I have found that the best way to get my mind off of myself is to serve someone else.
Though there are truly bad days where the stress and tears are acceptable, many of my worst days simply stem from selfishness, unfair expectations on others or myself, or downright impatience. I have a very good life, and it is especially exciting right now, but it's so easy for me to be downcast by the spilled bottles of precious oil and the slow drivers that make me late.
On these days, when frustration begins to creep in, it is good to set aside the phone and the demands it brings, and bake.
Bake for someone you love very much, or someone you are just learning to love very much. It is good to be concerned for something other than ourselves.
There will always be to-do lists, there will always be things I could change about this upcoming wedding, but if we want there to always be friends, we must invest. We must invest our love, time, and efforts into making their lives a little sweeter.
It is so much more worthwhile than ranting about Prius-owners.
(I apologize to all of you lovely, Prius-driving readers, I'm sure you're just wonderful.)
These cinnamon rolls just about make every fall baking fantasy come true. I shoved every autumnal flavor I could into these rolls - pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, pecans, and cocoa nibs - and wrapped them up in my very favorite yeast dough. They are truly so very, very good.
Oh! Brown butter! Did I mention the brown butter?
Are you wondering why Pinterest is suddenly telling you to brown every stick of butter in your refrigerator? I know, it is a little out-of-hand, but there is a good reason for its fame.
Brown butter has a toffee-like richness of flavor that adds so much nutty, buttery goodness to baked goods. It is a little intimidating at the first attempt, but after the second or third time, it becomes all too easy to throw this little weapon to everything you bake.
The recipients of these rolls were beyond grateful, but more importantly, I got my mind off of myself for a solid hour. It is good to serve.
It's also good to taste-test before you serve. Sometimes you need to taste-test two or three rolls for quality control. It's a necessary evil. We all have to make sacrifices.
Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
makes 7 very large cinnamon rolls
for the dough
- 8 ounces warm milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 15 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus extra for coating the pan)
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine milk, sugar, yeast, egg yolks, flour, and salt. Use the paddle attachment and combine on low speed for 1 minute. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Fit your stand mixer with dough hook and add the butter. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form a large ball. Place in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. While the dough rises, prepare the fillings and coat a 9-inch pie pan with softened butter.
for the pumpkin filling
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add pumpkin and brown sugar and cook, over medium heat, for 7-10 minutes, stirring often. The mixture should be thick and deepened in color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
for the spice filling
- 3/8 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
In a small bowl, whisk to combine sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15x12 inch rectangle. Spread the pumpkin filling evenly over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with the spice mixture, cocoa nibs and pecans. Roll the dough up tightly, working from end to end, and tucking as you go. Cut the roll into 7 equal pieces. Place the rolls in the buttered pan and cover loosely with plastic. Allow to rise for 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Allow the rolls to cool for 10 minutes before coating with frosting.
for the cream cheese frosting
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Bring the butter to a simmer, and cook, swirling the pan every so often, until the butter has deepened in color and small, brown bits have formed at the bottom of the pan. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and skim any white residue from the top. Allow to cool.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute. Add cooled butter and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
With the mixture on low speed, sift in confectioner’s sugar. Spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.