Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saffron reminds me of Chrome Orange - Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

You're probably wondering how I'm making a connection between saffron, chrome orange and cinnamon rolls.  Believe me, in my household it isn't hard.

Let me start from the beginning.  It all started when our larder water pipes burst; not from the cold, but just from being old.  My neighbor across the street was quick to lend a hand and his expertise.  To thank him for being so obliging, I offered him either cinnamon rolls or banana bread.  He said he had my cinnamon rolls before, so he chose those.

I'm going to give you my cinnamon roll recipe that I've been using for the last twenty-five years or more.  It is a basic sweet dough recipe with eggs.  Then, I'll give you three things I've done to the recipe to make them memorable.

Here's the recipe:
4 pkgs. dry yeast (this translates to 9 teaspoons of loose yeast)
3 cups lukewarm water
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 teaspoons salt (I omit this)
1 cup shortening
9 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well. (Mix well is easy when you have a dough hook and you're letting your mixer do all the work.  Warning...9 cups of flour is a large amount of dough.  Make sure your mixer motor can handle this.  I have a Kitchen Aid and have never had a problem.

Let rise till doubled.  Divide dough into thirds and knead (it will be sticky - just add flour as needed).  Roll each section out jellyroll fashion.  Spread rectangle with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Roll up like jellyroll and slice into 12 equal pieces.  Place in a greased 9 x 12" pan.

At this point you can either let them rise and then bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes....OR, you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  This works well for either a Christmas morning breakfast or anytime you have large crowds and company.  You would allow the rolls to rise at room temperature until double, about 45 minutes and then bake.

Frost with powdered sugar frosting or your favorite frosting glaze.

This makes 3 pans of rolls.

You're probably thinking what you're possibly going to do with three pans of rolls, but rest assured they will go fast and if you give them away, all the better!

But there are three secrets to amazing cinnamon rolls that I've discovered along the way. Here is the first:
Secret one is saffron.

A pinch of saffron will transform baked goods into aromatic delights.  When baking, the crocus stamens turn the dough a golden yellow and the sweet aroma will fill your kitchen.  I would always use saffron with my traditional Ukrainian Easter recipes, but it wasn't until years later I decided to add it to my roll recipe.  That was a great move!

Secret Two - potato flour.  I am a fan of King Arthur flour including their potato flour.  I substitute around 1/2 a cup of potato flour for the white flour.   The potato flour gives your baked goods a moist texture that doesn't go stale after a day or two.  If you've never tried potato is a great staple for your pantry.

Secret Three - Graham crackers.  For my filling I grind up a package of graham crackers and add to my filling along with my cinnamon, sugar and butter.  The crackers beef up the filling without adding more butter and sugar.

Back to sewing now....  I got the rolls made and I have been working on a 1930s/40s quilt top I am machine quilting; more pictures to follow later.  But after having the saffron out and baking, it reminded me of what I would consider a true chrome orange.  The orange of the 30's, 40's quilt was listed as chrome orange.    The orange color of the 1st and 2nd quarter of the twentieth century is more of an apricot.

The orange on the left is from a schoolhouse block dating 1880-1910.  It is the stable orange dye Barbara Brackman talks about in Clues in the Calico.  All of the fabric is stable without croaking.  The orange on the right is part of the quilt top I am working on now.  Do you see the difference in the intensity?    

To me, is is as though the left is saffron, the right is apricot.  Sounds minor, but knowing this makes a difference when you are dating fabric. 

Stay turned for more pictures of this quilt because I found the PERFECT fabric to back it and I can't wait to show you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

For the Bird Lovers

A Temple owl perhaps?

This month I purchased this sweet quilt top from Bridget who owns the Etsy shop, Bridget Bright Arrow. "Sweet" was how Bridget described it.  I felt the same way when I saw it. So much in fact, I moved it from the bottom of the pile of tops for machine quilting to right under the needle.

There are 24 hand embroidered bird blocks representing birds of North America, both domesticated and wild, from warm and cold climates for our feathered friends. The finished size is 43 1/2 inches x 63 inches.

It is quite exciting to take a vintage quilt top and breathe some new life into it.

I knew I wanted to quilt a fiddlehead fern in the green alternating blocks. When I did a google search for a picture of a fern so I could get an idea of how to quilt it unfurling its greenery...I came across this web site with free motion quilting for the fern. Leah, the free motion quilting blogger,  is amazing and there are videos attached on how she quilts.  (Time out for a confession - okay, so I spent a few hours fascinated with her blog.  Sometimes these things happen.  For me, it is machine quilting.)  While my fiddlehead fern looks nothing like Leah' is because free motion quilting can be as different and individualized as handwriting.

The embroidery designs are outlined and where I felt the thread was a bit loose, my machine quilting acted as couching.

January is slowly winding down and soon the countdown to spring will begin.   Until then, I'm going to keep locked away in my sewing room and get through some projects I've allocated to the back burner for too long, because more time spent quilting means less time thinking about how cold it is outside!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some Flowers for You

I was just writing to Chris in Australia about how much I am missing the earth blooming.  I told her I was going to have to stop by my local grocery store just to get some cut flowers to put in a vase to chase away the winter doldrums.

I came across these little pieces of ephemera from the past filled with flowers as well as hearts and thought they were the perfect pick-me-up.  These were the surprise goodies in a box lot at an estate sale.   Hope they bring a smile and some flowers to your day!

Here is Steve helping Alessandra with her skating lessons.  I LOVE the bonnet.

Little Red Riding Hood in winter and at night?

When the receiver is moved up and down, the eyes move in unison.

This valentine stands and the horse's head is jointed and moves up and down.  The little girl reminds me of Dolly Dingle.

While not in the best of shape, this valentine also stands and has a honeycomb heart in the front.  

Happy Valentine's Day..... one MONTH EARLY!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hello 2013!

Hello 2013! 

My goal for the New Year is reorganizing, cleaning and making efficient use of my time in order to spend more time sewing!

Forget about shedding those gingerbread cookie pounds, no lofty ideas of being nice to mean dogs on our street, no delusions of grandeur; just spending time sewing. 

Through the estate sale tubs and onto Etsy, I am listing vintage finds from the previous year.  I'm anticipating filling the tubs with new finds in 2013 and there is no time like the present to make way for the new year!

Chimney Sweep blocks, also known as an Album block, date from late 19th to early 20th century.

A Sisters Choice block from a group of blocks measuring in a variety of unfinished sizes.  I am theorizing family and friends contributed blocks as they are machine and hand pieced.  As I see it, it is like sharing a recipe and no one you share it with makes it the exact same way.  Friends quilting are no different than having friends in your kitchen.

Fabric cut into 3 x 6 inch quilt blocks from possible salesmen samples of fabric.  Again, another theory, and this time I am theorizing the seamstress was going to make a bars or Chinese Coin quilt.  

A pound of mid twentieth century fabric from a frugal household.

And of course, vintage spools of thread.  Since I wrote about the quilt from nylon, I'm coming across nylon thread, nylon blanket binding, nylon trim, etc.  It is as though the gods of nylon are flooding me with inspiration which I am ignoring.  Did you know that Emerald Green is the Pantone color for 2013? 

Please feel free to theorize about what was going on with the prior owners of these vintage items.  I know for me, theorizing sounds more exciting than cleaning and reorganizing!