The Sugar (& Cinnamon) To Sprinkle on Your Snow Day

make-it-a-cinnamon-rollDateline: January 6 2017 , Charlotte NC.

So they say its going to snow. That’s #SnOMG or #Snomageddon for those of you anxious to share the excitement on social media!

Although I’ve been Charlotte-based since 1975, I’m still enough of a Florida-raised girl that, for me, the words, “Snow Day” run synonymous with the term “Free Day”

Snow in Charlotte, and often the accompanying ice, cause a run on the bread and milk aisles in local groceries and a bit of a local panic. Truth is, in 2-3 days its usually all melted and gone. So, while the “free” time does provide an unexpected opportunity to take a deep breath and to catch up on cleaning and paperwork, I’d prefer to  look at it through adolescent rose-colored glasses and take is as a day off to play, make footprints in the snow,  drink hot chocolate and in the case of today’s post make cinnamon rolls.

Snow or not, you’ll find this recipe makes for a fun morning of winter’s baking, filling your home with the sweet strong scent of cinnamon. Traditionally I make cinnamon rolls for all of our neighbors and local family and deliver the warm pans of rolls tied up with a holiday bow to those on the cul-de-sac on Christmas Morning. But, you don’t have to wait for the holidays to circle back round, cinnamon rolls are a fun treat for yourself and your friends any time of the year.

img_7817What you will need:  Keeping the recipe as local as I can, I now love using Carolina Farmhouse Dairy plain or vanilla organic yogurt in place of the sour cream that I originally called for in this recipe. This yogurt, made in Bahama NC just north of Durham, gives a creamier lighter taste to the finished rolls; and as its local and organic I know where the milk that turns to yogurt come from and makes me feel better about what I am feeding my family and friends.  Same goes for the local eggs. In this case I used chicken eggs from Rowland’s Row Farms, but local duck eggs work equally as well and add a richer taste and texture.

Where to buy? Both Carolina Farmhouse Dairy Yogurt and Rowland’s Row eggs are available at the all new Queen City Pantry/ Vin Masters at Atherton Mill!  That’s right, Vin Master is not just a wine shop any more. Recently purchased by Queen City Pantry’s Rochelle Baxter, Vin Master now carries all the local product that Queen City Pantry has been know for as well as a terrific variety of wine and beer. (Note to self: in light of the upcoming snow, might want to  pick up a couple of bottles of wine while shopping for yogurt and eggs)

As far as the remaining ingredients go, if I can’t find a locally raised or produced option, I turn toward organic choices whenever I can. In this case, the sugar I use in the recipe is organic, as is the butter; and the flour is local Southern Biscuit Flour,  brought to you by Renwood Mills in Newton NC. This trio of ingredients is available at almost every local grocer.

imgres-2My personal preference in yeast is SAF Red Instant Yeast. The Healthy Home Market  with three locations in Charlotte usually carries this yeast in 1 lb. bags – which, in my experience, will last till you use it all, if you keep it in a sealed container in your freezer. if you can’t find it locally you can order it from the fine folks  at King Arthur’s Flour.  

Here’s the How-To when using yeast in a recipe. Proof the yeast ( to make sure it is good) when you first open the vacuum sealed bag , by stirring the prescribed amount into water that is tepid. That is no hotter than 110 degrees F. You can use an instant-read thermometer if you’d like, but if you want to go by feel, tepid water  is not as cold as what you would pour for a glass to drink; but not as hot as what you would use to wash your face. Think room temperature.  Stir the yeast in and wait for a bit of foaming of bubbling action to occur on the water’s surface, once that happens you are good to go. Store the remaining yeast in an airtight container in the freezer and use it as needed. Further directions in the recipe below…

 

img_7831Now about the cinnamon. My go-to spot for spice is the Savory Spice Shop in Southend Charlotte. Run by Amy and Scott McCabe and an incredibly knowledgeable staff, Charlotte’s South Charlotte Savory Spice Shop now enjoys new digs at the Atherton Mill & Market. Located right around the corner from their former location, between O-Ku Restaurant and Big Ben’s, they’ll set you up for success, making it easy for you to keep fresh fragrant and flavorful spices in your pantry of spice drawer all year long.

No more buying big jars and then having them grow old and stale between recipes. It’s always good to keep basics on hand, but for specialty items, buy as is needed and know that you may purchase as much or as little as you’d like. While the Savory Spice Shop in Southend carries several varieties of ground cinnamon and cinnamon chips ( ooh, wouldn’t those be a great addition to these rolls!) my favorite cinnamon for sweet and spicy culinary endeavors alike is the piquant, rich ground Saigon Cassia Cinnamon. Before you cook, go in and taste all the varieties on the shelves ( this is one of the pleasures of shopping at Savory Spice,  you may taste before you buy) and find the one that works best for you.

So there you have it – all that’s left is the fun that’s to be had in the baking. I fill my cinnamon rolls with a mix of the organic white sugar, cinnamon and my homemade brown sugar ( the how-to here is in the recipe) Be generous as you sprinkle for extra ooey-goo-iness. If you’re feeling adventurous, mix it up a bit with the addition of chocolate, cinnamon or butterscotch chips,  or cocoa nibs ( Black Mountain Chocolate cocoa nibs from Winston-Salem, NC are also available at the new Vin Masters, as well!)

Heidi’s Homemade (SnowDay) Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup organic sour cream or (preferably) organic yogurt – Carolina Farmhouse Dairy is my Go-to brand

½ cup organic sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ cup melted butter

½ cup tepid water

2 Tbsp. SAF Red Instant yeast

2 local chicken or duck eggs

4 cups organic or local unbleached flour

For the cinnamon roll filling:

generous amounts of melted butter
, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar*

*Here’s the Brown Sugar How-To: Make your own brown sugar by using 2 1/2 cups of organic sugar and 1/4 cup of local NC Sorghum Syrup molasses ( Forget the commercial blackstrap molasses and go local here – it really makes a delicious difference! I love the sorghum syrup molasses from Harrell Hill Farms in Bakersville, NC and you will too; but any NC sorghum syrup works well) Blend the two ingredients together  by using quick on-off pulsing motions in a food processor until the sugar dissolves into the sorghum and viola! – Your own homemade brown sugar – yum!

 

img_7819For the dough: Dissolve yeast in warm water with one teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and when a foam forms on the surface it is ready. If no foam appears within five minutes, then either your water was too hat or your yeast was old. Start again with cooler water and another package of yeast. 
Once the yeast starts to foam or proof, combine it with the other dough ingredients to form a soft but sticky dough.
 Let rise 1 hour. Turn out onto a floured worksurface. Knead until smooth then roll dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick.

For cinnamon rolls: generously spread the dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugars and cinnamon. Roll up like a jelly roll. Cut the log of dough into 1 ½ inch thick slices. Place the slices in a buttered pan, cut side up. Drizzle with additional melted butter. 
Cover with a dish towel and let rise an additional 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 23-30 minutes.

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I can’t wait to see and hear how your cinnamon rolls bake up!  Post photos and then tag me on your social media posts – @HeidiBillotto and @HeidiBillottoCooks on Facebook; @HeidiCooks on Twitter and @HeidiBillotto on Instagram

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Stay tuned…my list of Jan, Feb and March 2017 hands-on cooking classes posts this weekend – can’t  wait!

Gluten Free Pancakes as seen on WBTV with Kristen Miranda

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WBTV's Kristen Miranda

WBTV’s Kristen Miranda

I’ve LOVE cooking in front of a group, making personal appearances and cooking on television. I am quite fortunate to have regular culinary segments on several Charlotte television stations, among them WBTV.

Heidi on  WBTV circa 2009

Heidi on WBTV circa 2009

I’ve been cooking on WBTV  regularly since 2009 – I used to get up around 4 am to prep and then arrive at the station around 6 am or so in advance of what is usually a 6:20 or 6:30 3 minutes spot, My wonderful husband Tom would always go with me, helping to lug in all the stuff, to set up what sort of kind of looked like a kitchen counter. Even with the early morning hours it was  and still is always great fun!

A couple of years ago, though, I suggested to the WBTV team that it might be easier if we filmed in my home kitchen. While I still go back to the studio every now and again; now, once a quarter or so, Kristen comes to me,  with lights, camera and photographer and we film four cooking spots to air over the next several months. Such was the case last week.

Fresh off the recipe planning for my Gluten Free Gourmet class a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this recipe for Gluten Free Banana Pancakes might be a fun way to start – great recipe, perfect for kids to prep and help make if you are looking for family fun in the kitchen; plus use organic bananas and blueberries, local eggs and Charlotte’s own Cloister Honey and its a practically perfect way to start the day or enjoy as a little late afternoon pick me up or after school snack.

cinnamonTo spice it up a bit – add one teaspoon to one Tablespoon of your favorite cinnamon from the Savory Spice Shop. ( I shop at the SouthEnd location in Charlotte and while I mix and match the trio of cinnamons they offer, I have to admit that the spicy but very flavorful Saigon Cassia Ground Cinnamon might be my favorite to add to this recipe.

bourbon HoneyLikewise you could top the pancakes with any sort of honey, but eating local is important to me, so local honey is my syrup of choice; and in this recipe the Cloister Honey Bourbon Honey pairs well; but Cloister’s whipped cinnamon honey, melted down in the microwave would be every bit as delicious .

For easy flipping, use a non stick pan and a very thin metal spatula and you are good to go – Here’s the printed recipe and the video for WBTV follows, enjoy!

For more info and to order on Cloister Honey from my friends Randall and Joanne Young in Charlotte NC, visit www.cloisterhoney.com

For more info on the Savory Spice Shop Southend, visit my friends Amy and Scott MacCabe at the shop at Atherton Mill, 2000 South Blvd.  suite 150, Charlotte, North Carolina 28203 or friend them on their page on Facebook 

Gluten Free Banana Pancakes

Recipe shared by Heidi Billotto

hlnc@carolina.rr.com

HeidiBillottoFood.com

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 local or organic egg

½ tsp. baking powder

Blend all of the ingredients together, but keep the batter a little lumpy with chunks of banana

Drop the batter onto a hot non stick fry pan in spoonfuls to make silver dollar sized pancakes.

Cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancakes and the edges are firm. Flip with a this spatula to brown the other side.

Serve topped with fresh blueberries and a drizzling of Charlotte’s own Cloister Honey’s Bourbon Honey