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A spring-y spin on a brunch classic.
And a "small victory" to go along with them.
How are you over there in your kitchen? I cannot overstate how glad I am to be back in mine. Only now that I’m out on the other side of it can I see how much my lack of interest in food during the earlier months of my pregnancy impacted my sense of self. It was a temporary but significant loss of an extremely precious party of my identity. (Turns out the road to motherhood is a huge identify shift, who knew?!)
Finding renewed joy in all my favorite foodie activities—perusing grocery store shelves, painstakingly composing a well-balanced chopped salad, even scrolling aimlessly on my social feeds which are comprised mainly of edible content—feels like coming up from an entire winter spent underwater and taking a desperate gasp of fresh, spring-y air. The sense of relief and delight in my kitchen is palpable.
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It’s the latter of those foodie activities that has me writing to you today. Thanks to third trimester insomnia, which has me awake between 2am and 5am more nights than not, I’ve been doing a lot of aimless scrolling these days. But it hasn’t been fruitless—an intended pun, as you will soon see! During one of my midnight media perusals, I came across a video so mouthwateringly captivating that I watched it three or four times on a loop, and literally, my mouth watered. I chalked my intense reaction up to pregnancy hormones, but saved the video for later, you know, for science…and to get a second opinion.
At a more civilized hour, I propped my phone up in front of Quentin (“watch this, should I make these?”), and I got the (albeit very slight) nudge I needed (“sure, if you want”). I got to work getting these Lemon Rolls in the oven the next day.
I’m fairly sure I cannot do them the justice they deserve with words, but by way of a brief description, I’ll tell you that they’re all the best parts of a cinnamon roll and a lemon bar, mashed into one breakfast-or-dessert-appropriate dish. And after baking these this past weekend, I can officially confirm, Ginny of In Bloom Bakery really nailed it with this one, they taste as good as they look. Like I said, I don’t think words (or even my photos included here) can really do them justice, so I strongly urge you to click this link to see them in action, then bake them yourself!
And if you do bake them yourself (perhaps for an Easter brunch?), I want to offer you a tip for when you do. Today’s tip is inspired by Julia Turshen’s Small Victories, one of the most loved cookbooks in my collection. Along with each of the book’s recipes, Julia offers a tip, or what she calls a small victory. Of these small victories, she says, “Think of small victories as the corners of the puzzle, the pieces that help us become inspired, relaxed cooks who know how to fill in the rest.”
I love this! Of course I do, I write to you weekly about kitchen and cooking tips, I think anyone can cook (and host!) with confidence, and I love offering little tidbits to help with that where I can.
Now, for that helpful little tidbit that we’ll call a small victory: rolls, whether they be of the traditional cinnamon kind, or their spring-y lemon-y counterparts, can be (mostly) made in advance!
Making cinnamon rolls or lemon rolls from scratch is a labor of love. Emphasis confidently on labor. As this lemon roll recipe is written, it’ll take you about three and a half hours from start to finish. Not all of that is hands-on time, but still, I think of this dish as a breakfast food, and the idea of a 4am wakeup call in service of an elaborate baked good is not all that appealing to me.
Well, you can have your cake and eat it too. Or, more aptly, bake your rolls and sleep in too. Here’s how:
Most yeast-risen rolls will call for two rounds of proofing: the first before the dough is rolled out and the buns are assembled and the second right afterwards, once the buns are in their baking vessel. That’s true of the lemon roll recipe I’m recommending today, so we’ll use it as our example.
For freshly baked rolls that don’t require any missed sleep, do all the steps up to and including the second round of proofing—for our recipe, that’s steps up to and including step 5 in the Assembling and Baking the Lemon Rolls section of the recipe—the day (or even two days) before you plan to eat them. Then cover your rolls with foil or plastic wrap, and pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them! Proceed with the rest of the recipe at a civilized hour the morning you plan to enjoy them. Simple, and so much more restful!
This weekend, I did the majority of the work on my lemon rolls on Saturday afternoon, transferred them to the fridge overnight, then pulled them out to bake at around 8am on Sunday. By 8:30am we were enthusiastically enjoying the fruits (see! a lemon pun!) of Saturday’s labor. That could be you!
Okay, we’ve covered it (it is the topic of today’s newsletter and our platter of rolls overnight in the fridge.) And now I’d love to hear from you. I have a feeling this is common knowledge among experienced bakers, so please let me know if you’ve done the make-ahead method for cinnamon—or otherwise—rolls before. And if you haven’t I’d also love to know if you would give it a try. Finally, please weigh in, did you find these lemon rolls as captivating as I did upon first glance? Respond directly to this email or drop a comment with your thoughts!
As always, wishing you a well-fed week ahead.
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