I recently received a PDF copy of the Peace Corps cookbook from Ethiopia. It has over 150 recipes that are ideal for what I call 'scrappy cooking' or cooking without the supplies, gadgets, appliances and ingredients that you usually use in the kitchen. The Peace Corps cookbook understands that I don't have access to a farmer's market array of fresh produce and it tells me how to clean the produce I do have. It understands that I don't have Whole Foods' selection of organic ingredients. It knows that my kitchen tools are limited and it even gives me ideas for make-shift tools (like using your Nalgene water bottle as a rolling pin). I'm pretty excited to use it as a base to creatively make 'gourmet' meals over the next few months.
This week I made 'scrappy' cinnamon rolls. The recipe was simple and easy and only left me craving icing for them...but alas, I didn't have powdered sugar or milk or cream cheese. So why make these if you're not living in a third world country? First, they're easy. Second, you'll only need ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. And sometimes you just want to make something with what you have instead of going out grocery shopping. Third, they taste good! A recipe doesn't have to be complicated and have a million ingredients to be delicious. You know, why paint the lily?
One last note before the recipe...I love that the baking instructions don't have a temperature or time. Instead, the instructions read, "bake until done". You see, the Peace Corps cookbook understands that while my little bitty oven may have temperature settings, there are really just two settings: "on" or "off".
Scrappy Cinnamon Rolls
(adapted from the Peace Corps cookbook)
4 cups flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk, scalded
2 1/2 teaspoon yeast
For filling / topping
3 tablespoons butter + 1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place the butter, salt and sugar in a large bowl, added scalded milk and allow to cool to lukewarm, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar and melt butter.
- Soften yeast in the milk mixture.
- Stir in 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, beating vigorously to blend.
- Scrape dough from sides of bowl and brush the top and sides of the bowl with some soft butter.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for ~2 hours or until almost doubled in size [My tip: Ant proof your mixture by placing the bowl on top of a plate covered with water so the ants can't get into the bowl]
- Turn dough onto a well-floured board and knead lightly, adding flour until dough is no longer sticky.
- Roll dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
- Spread with 3 tablespoons soft butter and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins.
- Roll up starting on the long side and cut into 8-12 pieces and place in baking pan.
- Melt 1/2 cup butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Pour mixture over the top of the cinnamon rolls.
- Let rolls rise in pan until doubled.
- Bake until done! Or, bake at about 350 degrees for 45 minutes.