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Wednesday Food: Buns and Beers

First of all, f*ck dieting.  The advertising blitzkrieg of post-holiday trimming and slimming really gets my goat.

I will never sacrifice eating good, well-made food for a slimmer figure.  The key to having both?  The great hush-hush secret?  Get off your butt and move more.

Case in point: you wake up a few hours early one particularly blah January morning, make dough out of sugar, flour, and butter, leave it to rise, sip on a thick and slightly bittersweet breakfast  beer, and then eat a pan of freshly baked cinnamon buns from said dough.  You are allowed this because you will then put your buns on your bicycle and ride to work, even if you have to carry your precious Schwinn through 6 inch deep snow (inconsistent plowing also gets my goat).  This is what we call a trade-off.  And it’s a really, really good one.

Second of all, my yeast-rising woes have returned.  Have you, dear readers, overcome similar troubles?  If my active dry yeast is fresh, and my dough sits in a warm place, why does it not rise?  Should I have dissolved it first in some warm, sugary concoction?

(That’s clementine zest on the buns and not melted cheese.  Melted cheese?… buns?… savory cheese buns?… To the kitchen!)


January 12, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. I’ve never had any yeast-related woes, but I always proof mine using said warm sugary concoction. Just combine what water and yeast the recipe calls for, add a little sugar (1 tsp max), and wait 10 minutes. If you still have problems and you’ve guaranteed your yeast is active…. well, let me know and I’d happily do some research to help you figure it out.

    P.S. dude… you are freakin’ hardcore.

    Comment by Carli | January 12, 2011

  2. I’d rather be fat. And I am. Your life sounds horrible.

    Comment by Craig | January 12, 2011

  3. Like Carli says, active dry yeast usually should be proofed first. I usually use instant yeast so I can skip that step.

    Those cinnamon rolls look amazing, although I did think the zest was cheese. I remember the Cheeseboard collective in Berkeley used to have a delicious cheese pastry. But I almost never got it, because they also had a pecan roll that was covered in a hard shell of molten sugar, like it was encased in an inch of brown glass.

    Comment by jms | January 12, 2011

  4. AMEN! my fingers almost froze off riding to work this morning…it was 10 degrees. bah.

    and i know nothing about yeast, but your buns look amazing.

    Comment by meh | January 13, 2011

  5. Riding your bike in the winter seems both colder and more dangerous than walking. But speed is good.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 13, 2011

  6. Meagan thinks your buns are amazing!

    Comment by Vanessa | January 13, 2011

  7. ‘Proofing’! That was the word I was looking for, thanks jms, will have another go tomorrow.

    Biking in Chicago winter, for the most part, is entirely more satisfying than all the other seasons. On the lakefront path you are alone with the cross-country skiers watching the lovely morning winter sun. There are moments of misery when even two pairs of gloves don’t block the chill or your skinny road tires can’t maneuver in the snow, but for the most part it’s freakin sublime.

    Comment by ebolden | January 13, 2011

  8. Also, I want to be on the Cheeseboard of Directors.

    Comment by ebolden | January 13, 2011

  9. Also, this post was a nice reminder of the existence of Smitten Kitchen, which I always forget about. I used to look at fxcuisine on a regular basis (which I learned about through ben, I think), but he doesn’t post anymore.

    The cinnamon roll recipe I generally use is this one, which has always turned out well for me. Maybe I’ll try the SK one now; I’m a sucker for pretty photographs.

    Comment by jms | January 13, 2011

  10. 9. Ugh, sorry, don’t click on that — redirects to some ad page.

    Comment by jms | January 14, 2011

  11. Wow, fxcuisine is completely awesome, why were you and Ben holding out on me?! He may not be posting anymore but it’s all new to me. And jms, can you try the link to your cinnamon rolls again?

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2011

  12. Will this work?

    Comment by jms | January 14, 2011

  13. It will!

    Comment by jms | January 14, 2011

  14. AWESOME! And instructions for freezing which is great because it’s a pain reducing recipes from 15 rolls to a single serving. So even though it doesn’t say, I should proof the yeast for 10 minutes before hand? I also love that includes the different methods.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2011

  15. why were you and Ben holding out on me?!

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned fxcuisine here before. Well, maybe not.

    I love that site. FX’s writing is just great.

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2011

  16. “Please do not pour the whole pot into some strainer like some illiterate Swiss German mama or you’ll ruin your work and the raviolis will split open. Instead, do this gently with a sieve or spider like a literate Swiss german mama.”

    Ho ho ho.

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2011

  17. Ha! That was the first one I read. “Now imagine a little bird playing hopscotch on this imaginary chessboard, and pooping the exact same quantity of stuffing on every square it passes.” Fucking brilliant.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2011

  18. On substitutions.

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2011

  19. The comments to the recipe with the facetious cat-substitution suggestion not only contains a recipe for cat (!) but also did me the great service of remembering to me the title of Unmentionable Cuisine, which I had read about a while ago and completely lost track of!

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2011

  20. He is both funny and serious with the cat remark, as we know cats and rabbits are easily mistaken with their heads lopped off, and pity the cook who realizes they have not served a precious lapin at all! Did you make the Almond Sorbet? Looks phenomenal.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2011

  21. I haven’t, but maybe I will! someday!

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2011

  22. The one I’ve always wanted to try and haven’t is the springerle recipe. I won’t make it because it’s fussy and requires the purchase of specialized single-purpose equipment and I’ve never had springerle before so I don’t know what the result will taste like. But those photographs are so beautiful! And I can just imagine what they will taste like, and how they will release hot sugary steam when you break them open. Every time I look at that recipe I end up browsing for springerle molds on ebay for a few minutes.

    Overall I’ve had success with all of his recipes that I’ve tried. But the photos, pretty as they are, take too long to load, and the recipes aren’t always written in a standardized way (ingredient list up top, etc.). Also, I hate that the recipes are stretched out over multiple pages, requiring constant clicking back and forth (with wet, meat or dough covered fingers, often). Also, I stopped reading when he switched to video. Who has time for that?

    W/r/t the cinnamon rolls — yeah, the freezing thing is great, since I almost never want an entire batch of cinnamon rolls at once. I don’t proof, but that’s because I substitute instant yeast.

    Comment by jms | January 14, 2011

  23. I shall attempt Almond Sorbet a la Wolfson and yet another batch of rolls in your honor, jms. How lucky and unsurprising that I have nothing else to do!

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2011

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