I have two days off this week which is awesome and I’m finally catching up on my sleep after being sick this weekend and even though someone is very mad at me somewhere about a bill I thought I paid, I’m still being optimistic. With two days off and no money in the bank to distract me into doing things, I’m hoping that this will be the week that I finish my novel. I have to. I have managed to convince myself that if I just finish the damn story, Random House will pick it up immediately, and then it will be optioned as a movie, and then Anne Hathaway or that Evan Rachel Wood girl or someone will star as my protagonist and it will be the best chick flick ever and I’ll get really rich and then it won’t matter that I might lose my job because I’ll be in France anyway, with a villa near the water and you can all come and visit and we’ll have a grand time. This is what will happen if I just focus. It seems so easy, doesn’t it?
Which is why I went back to bed for two hours, and why I am here, now, blogging. And why I just made cinnamon buns, bonus points for them being the lazy kind. And why I did the dishes, which I never do unless I have to or unless Nick mutters something under his breath about leaving me for a harem of maids who never make fun of his eyebrows or move to the other side of the room when he eats. I remember now why I stopped writing the thing in the first place. It’s frigging hard. And also I am having a hard time making my protagonist relatable to anyone but me, because she’s manic and neurotic and painfully self-conscious but also incredibly narcissistic, and also mildly sociopathic, which is why I get her but I’m wondering if she shouldn’t just be the quirky friend of someone much more believable. Random House? Are you out there? You tell me what I should do.
Anyway, the cinnamon buns. They’re called Horses’ Arses because that’s what my Grandpa named them, because apparently if you look closely at the back end of any horse, it will be curly and twisty, and will resemble these fluffy little cinnamon buns, which are made with a baking powder biscuit base and are much quicker than the yeasty ones, which is perfect for breakfast on a weekday or for snacking all day long when you’re supposed to be doing something important and life-changing but you just can’t make yourself type another word of fiction because suddenly everything else in the whole world is super interesting and distracting.
I’m pretty sure the recipe is a Fannie Farmer recipe, but I’ve been making these for so many years now that the recipe is permanently etched onto my frontal lobe. It’s one of those family recipes that everybody’s always made, and I don’t think the recipe has ever changed, except that for my Grandpa, probably more brown sugar was added. You should make these. Go, preheat your oven right now.
- 2 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (if you don’t have this, don’t worry – I’ve omitted it before and it always turns out fine)
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar. Drop your butter into the mix in hunks, and gently work it into the dry ingredients. Like many doughs, it’s best if the butter isn’t thoroughly combined – you want the majority of the mixture to resemble a coarse crumb, but there should also be larger hunks here and there. This is what makes everything fluffy, and fluffy is better than not fluffy.
Stir in the milk to form a dough, and turn the whole thing out onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough, for about thirty seconds, until it’s soft and no longer falls apart or is sticky. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
Brush the melted butter over the rolled dough. Sprinkle the sugar over top, pressing down so that it’s not loose. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m estimating that it’s a cup of sugar. It’s really about two and a half handfuls, and I have small hands – paws, you might even say. I never measure this, because I’ve never seen a parent or grandparent of mine measure it out ever. It’s probably more the case that if you like more sugar, go nuts and add it, and if you like less then don’t add as much I guess. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top.
At this point, you could get as creative as you wanted – add nuts, dried fruit, crumbled bacon, even – anything you like. I never add anything different, because I like it just how it is.
Roll the thing out lengthwise, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into slices about one-inch thick – you should have about twelve buns. I ended up with eleven. Place close together in a greased baking dish, or in those round cake pans if you wanted to. My dish is about 8×10, and the buns filled it up, some touching. It’s okay if they touch.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and melty and fluffy. You can smell when these are done – the smell of cinnamon and sugar baking is marvelous, especially when it’s just for you. Serve warm, with a big glass of milk. And then maybe take another nap, because those big goals of yours can be daunting, and sometimes it feels good to procrastinate.
I still mean to tell you about my plums, and something about green tomatoes. Later today I am going to make venison burgers, using Alana from Eating from the Ground Up’s excellent brioche hamburger bun recipe. Last week I kind of fell off the face of the earth and didn’t do anything I said I would and then I felt bad, but I’ve promised myself I’d be productive and finish my story this week, so you know I will be all kinds of distracted and blog, probably more than anyone even wants to read. I say this now. I am completely unreliable, but that’s not something to worry about now – very little matters when you have a tray of warm cinnamon buns all to yourself.