Grown Up Vacation

FullSizeRenderYeah, it’s the first week of January. The first week of a new year, after weeks of holiday merriment. The week when you decide this year you’ll lose that weight, run those miles, save those pennies, hold that sharpened tongue, blah, blah, blah. The week when the mail holds not those cute/corny holiday cards filled with bad sweaters, bedecked pets and smiling babies, but the credit card aftermath. Grim reality hits, the days are gray, my mood grayer, and all I want is a vacation. But not the kind you might think. After two lovely weeks of off more than work, I’m not talking about going away geographically. I want a vacation from being a grown-up.

I was born a baby sister, and as such, spent much of my kidhood  yearning to be older. Oh to be a grown up! No bedtimes, no homework, no “not until you’re older”, no “NOs”. Well, that’s what we thought it would be until it actually happened. Sure there’s a lot to be said for being taller than the clown’s hand at the start of the ride, but in the first week of January when I’m grumpy and blue, I can’t really think of any. I want fuzzy slippers, cartoons, coloring books, and no blahs, or blues, or bills, or stupid vegetables, or yucky grown up stuff. I’m not playing…so THERE!

Of course, there’s very little chance behaving like a child is going to get me anything except a self-imposed time-out, and an even bigger pile of grown-up crap to sift through when released. But there is something I can do tonight. Tonight, I can make a culinary grown-up break and have a meal any kid would like. Tonight I can have Breakfast for Dinner. You remember what that was like. As kids we thought it was the ultimate treat! We had no idea pancakes or waffles for dinner was an easy fix for an overstressed parent. Who cared, as long as there was syrup!

Grown-ups don’t do breakfast for dinner nearly enough. I hadn’t even thought about its magical qualities until it was recently requested for the weekly dinner and a movie night. There’s nothing better to melt the heart and warm the corners of one’s soul than to be handed a pair of cozy slippers, and placed in front of a platter of bacon, eggs, chocolate chip pancakes and sweet rolls. Trust me, THIS is the best dinner party you’ll ever throw, the one that will be remembered best. You can be a grown up in the morning.

The menu for your Breakfast for Dinner Party is really up to you and how elaborate you want to go. I did cheesy scrambled eggs (eggs, cooked slow in a very generous amount of butter, with a generous handful of cheddar thrown in just before the eggs were fully set); hash browns (diced potatoes and onions generously sprinkled with salt, pepper and paprika,and sautéed in a combo of butter and olive oil until cooked through and golden brown), chocolate chip pancakes (you can use a packaged mix and add in the chips, or google Martha Stewart’s buttermilk pancakes – REALLY good recipe from scratch); and bacon (made in the oven, for the crispest bacon you can get.) All of that was swell, but the star of the table were the sweet rolls.

I first made these, Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls on Thanksgiving. The reaction convinced me that if I wanted to make a special someone’s son smile and react with the most glee a teenage boy can for something other than dirt bike gear, these had better be in my repertoire.

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Melissa Clark, New York Times)

Makes 18 rolls, or two pans full. I like to bake off one and freeze the other for another time.

You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted some parts of the recipe in bold type. That’s because I’ve made this a few times now, and it’s important to read the recipe carefully and section up the sugar and butter or you’ll be tempted to throw it all in with the dough. Trust me on this 🙂

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • I envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • About 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (you could use apple cider, but why?)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add milk and heat until just warm to the touch (120 to 130 degrees). Pour into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, yeast, salt and cardamom. Slowly beat flour mixture into butter mixture using an electric mixer set with the paddle attachment. Beat in egg, then beat until dough comes together in a ball, about 3 minutes; it should be slightly tacky but not sticky. If it feels very sticky, beat in more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Form into ball. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Cook until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep nut-brown; cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Punch down dough and roll into a rectangle about 15 inches long and 11 or 12 inches wide. Using a pastry brush, coat dough with butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over butter. Starting at a long end, tightly roll up dough over filling. Arrange seam side down. Cut the dough crosswise into 18 slices (about 1/2-inch thick).

Lightly grease two 9-inch square baking pans. Transfer rolls to pan, cut side up; they will fit snugly. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; bake rolls until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

While rolls bake, place remaining  3/4 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with bourbon and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, whisk in vanilla, then turn off the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Pour warm glaze evenly over the tops of the warm rolls. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow glaze to set.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at Thanks!  🙂



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