I decided to make caramel apple cinnamon rolls using a recipe than I have not used before. It struck me that baking with a new recipe is much like teaching. Both have steps to follow, specific materials to use and a ton of variables that can change everything!!!
Consider that in a classroom, the temperature, and time of day, day of the week, your students or how much caffeine that you have consumed will influence the outcome of the lesson. Just as much as the kind of flour, age of yeast, temperature of the kitchen, humidity and how well the directions are followed will affect the cinnamon rolls. These variables can either break you or give you courage to keep going. I chose to keep going whether it be in the kitchen or classroom.
So, I began baking the cinnamon rolls. I felt like a brand new teacher at a new school. I recently moved to a home 30 miles north of where I had lived for the past 25 years, with a different type of air conditioning, a brand new electric range/oven and the pantry is not in the kitchen but in the hallway and the storage is different, so there were many variables. My daughter who is a pastry chef was coaching me just as a mentor would be if I had been in a classroom.
After getting all of the ingredients out and talking about the differences from our former home to this one, I began. (I knew that Sam would be close if I became unsure.) That signaled a bell in my head of a memory of one of my favorite times teaching Kindergarten with a Student teacher. I was able to help Tracy to see how much fun teaching was. I guided her when she needed then let her try things on her own. My favorite lesson she did was when we baked bread after reading “The Little Red Hen”. She planned a great lesson, gathered 3 bread machines, all of the ingredients and set everything up. She did a great job and the kids were excited about bread baking and added fact was that fresh bread was so foreign to them. How was it made? How do you cook it? She had planned for everything but the construction workers that cut the power to our portable building 20 minutes before the bread was finished!! We had every emotion that you could think of at that time! The students were sad/disappointed because we could not taste the bread. Tracy was upset because the lesson was ruined and would have to be redone. I reassured them all that we could have a redo the next day. The next day, went smoother and the bread was baked and it was wonderfully yummy. The students talked about that bread for the rest of the year. It was a wonderful experience. Many years later, I visited Tracy’s classroom and she had photos of that day behind her desk. It was an experience that she thought of fondly.
I got busy letting the yeast do its job while I prepared the rest of the dough. I measured the flour, sugar, chopped the apples. It was time to mix the yeast and dry ingredients and let it rise. Much like a teacher watching her students during a test, I kept checking on it. After a considerable amount of time, it was time to prepare the dough, put the sugar mixture and apples on it and roll it up. I cut it into pieces and put them in the pan. Before I put them in the oven, I poured on the caramel sauce and began to wait for them to bake. It was another time of anticipation.
I waited like the students in my Kindergarten class. The smell of the apples, cinnamon and caramel wafted thru my house. It was such a happy smell. It once again took me back to the bread baking time in Kindergarten. The students were excited to see the results after smelling the bread baking all day. I felt the same way about the rolls I was baking! What would it taste like? Was it going to be like a normal cinnamon roll? At the sound of the buzzer, I went to check on it and called for Sam to assist. This was like a student turning in a test-was it brown enough or was it still doughy? Sam gingerly touched it and said-“No, it must be put back in.” I was so sad!! I felt like I had failed. Again, just like my student teacher, Tracy must have felt after the bread baking. In another 10 minutes, the rolls came out looking perfect. I poured the rest of the caramel sauce on the rolls after they came out. Sam assured me that they would be great and that I had done well.
Luckily, we both had a chance of a do over with our lesson. It was a learning experience that we can look back on fondly. What matters is that you take all of the variables use them wisely. My thinking is that is that if you let the learning rise like the yeast did in the dough that a positive outcome will happen. Learning will stay will you and create happy memories.
Here is the recipe for Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls .
- Dough Ingredients:
- 3¼ cups flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup milk
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- Filling Ingredients:
- 2 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 Tablespoons butter, softened
- Caramel Glaze:
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
- To make the dough: In a small saucepan over medium low heat add the milk and butter. Stir until the butter has melted and remove from heat. Let stand until luke warm temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2¼ cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add to the stand mixer with dough hook attached. (You can also make this by hand, just knead until smooth once all of the ingredients are added.) Add the egg and water and mix until just starting to combine. Slowly add in the milk mixture and 1 cup of flour until the dough starts to form and become smooth. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large 9×15 square. About ¼-1/2 inch thick.
- In a small bowl combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar for the filling. Spread the softened butter onto the dough keeping it about a ½ inch away from the edge. Sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the softened butter. Sprinkle with chopped apples.
- Roll up the 15 inch side into a log and pinch the seams. Cut into 9-12 slices depending on how thick you want your cinnamon rolls. Place in a greased 9×13 inch pan or 9 inch pie pan. and cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until just golden brown on the tops.
- To make the caramel glaze: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Add the sweetened condensed milk and bring to a boil over medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls.