Thanksgiving special: Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls & overnight ginger + pumpkin chia pudding

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Hi guys. I don't know if you're aware but Thanksgiving is approaching. Fast. And if you, like me, have slacked just a liiiiiittle bit with your holiday preparation efforts, I've got something for you. Actually, I've got two (uhh, three?) things: a delicious menu featuring links to my favorite recipes from around the interweb and TWO (!) Thanksgiving breakfast recipes. One for the person who wakes up salivating - on a mission to eat everything in sight (and gives zero shits about the Thanksgiving Day Parade) - and another for the person who likes to play it safe (preferably from the couch, while watching aforementioned parade) (childhood nostalgia, yo) up until the time dinner rolls around.

By now I'm pretty sure you can accurately guess which one of us will be eating what. But there's a part of me that wishes it was Thom who preferred bowls of what looks like well dressed, gelatinous birdseed and me who could put away a (small) batch of cinnamon rolls in one sitting. So let's just go with that and get on to the menu.

FOR BREAKFAST We'll be stuffing our faces with the recipes at the end of this post, but if you're feeding a small football team, I'd suggest a loaf (or five) of my overnight pumpkin spice cinnamon roll loaf. It requires a bit of planning (and effort) the day before, but will make for an easy breakfast come Thanksgiving morning.

FOR LUNCH (AKA SNACK TIME)

I don't even know why I have a lunch section because Thom will probably still be full from eating nearly an entire batch of cinnamon rolls (my prediction is that he gets through 2 1/2 before being horrified by the realization of how much sugar he ingested) and I'll be trying my damnedest to hold off on eating until dinner. I should warn that my approach results in serious hanger from about 3 o'clock onward, but it's totally worth it when you sit down at the table and can pack in all the food that will either a) put you into a delightful food coma (desirable outcome) or b) give you a miserable food baby for a solid four hours (undesirable outcome). Anyway, we'll have this fancy ass crudité platter around in the event we need something light to chew on.

FOR DINNER

We're going to kick things off with a roasted fennel and satsuma orange salad, followed by garden keeper's pie with beets, lentils, + creamy celery root mashsweet potato mac and cheese (!), easy roasted Brussels sprouts, and stuffing from a box because.. boxed stuffing is better. AMIRIGHT? And because there's no such thing as too many carbohydrates, there will also be biscuits and soft rolls. I'll be making the biscuits from scratch (I really need to share Thom's recipe) but I'll probably grab a bag of soft rolls from Whole Paycheck because baking pie > baking rolls. The table will also be filled with a boatload of condiments. Not one of which will be gravy because gravy is one of three foods that Thom can't stand (the other two are coffee and ranch dressing, in case you were wondering). The condiments will be a random assortment of chutneys and sauces, the most important being basic cranberry sauce. Because no self-respecting American serves Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce.

FOR DESSERT

Although there probably won't be much room left for dessert, there will pie. Pumpkin pie (with speculoos crust) (!!!!!), mini pumpkin pies with spelt crust and coconut whipped cream (though I'll be using coconut oil pie crust, instead), ginger + pumpkin tart with maple-pecan crust, and - depending on how I'm feeling on Wednesday - there might also be no-bake pecan pie, too. That makes four pies for two people. Which sounds about right.

Up close and personal
Overnight ginger + pumpkin chia pudding
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His + hers breakfast
Overnight ginger + pumpkin chia pudding
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Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls with coconut oil frosting
Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls with coconut oil frosting
Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls with coconut oil frosting
Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls with coconut oil frosting
Small batch apple cider cinnamon rolls with coconut oil frosting

NOTES: After testing and testing and testing, I found that 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of yeast per cup of flour is the sweet spot for the perfect rise. Any more or less than that, they'll be pathetic excuses for cinnamon rolls. Because I couldn't decide which yeast measurement I liked better (my friends were all on team 3/4 teaspoon, FYI) (I had them over for dinner then force-fed them cinnamon rolls) I met in the middle and used 1/2 heaping teaspoon. If you don't have light spelt flour, unbleached or white whole wheat should do the trick, but I'd stick to the higher end (3/4 teaspoon) of yeast if you plan on replacing the flour. Prior to baking, I brushed the ramekin cinnamon roll with a bit of almond milk to see how it would impact the exterior. It browned much quicker and I do not recommend giving the cinnamon rolls an almond milk bath. To make the apple cider concentrate, simply boil 1/2 cup of spiced apple cider until it's reduced to 3 tablespoons (45g) of liquid.

SMALL BATCH APPLE CIDER CINNAMON ROLLS WITH COCONUT OIL FROSTING

 

DOUGH
2 tablespoons (26g) filtered water, between 105-108˚F
1/2 heaping teaspoon (2g) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (8g) cane sugar

1 tablespoon (11g) refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
3 tablespoons (45g) spiced apple cider concentrate, warm (see notes above)
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (132g) light spelt flour, plus more for kneading
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt Pinch of ground cinnamon

FILLING
1 tablespoon (11g) refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
3-4 tablespoons (39-52g) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

COCONUT OIL FROSTING
1/4 cup (30g) powdered cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon potato starch
, optional (helps to absorb excess oil)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons (15g) refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1/8 teaspoon maple flavor, optional

Lightly oil a medium mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and gently stir in the yeast; add a tiny pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (about 10-15 minutes) (if it doesn’t look like a more contained version of this after 10-15 minutes, you need to start over because your water was either too hot that it killed the yeast, or so cool that it couldn't properly activate it). In another small mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, and apple cider concentrate; set aside to allow the liquids to break down the sugar. Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon to a medium mixing bowl and create a well in the center. Once the yeast has been activated, pour it and the apple cider mixture into the flour mixture and gently work the liquid into the flour, using your fingers (a fork would work, too). Once the flour has been incorporated, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a flat surface for 4-5 minutes. If the dough feels sticky, work additional flour into it in 1/2 teaspoon increments until you can knead it without the dough clinging to your hands. Once the dough has been kneaded, transfer it to the prepared bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm part of your house until it has doubled (60-90 minutes).

Once the dough has doubled, grease one mini loaf pan and one 2" ramekin (or scrap the loaf pan and prepare three ramekins, instead) then sprinkle generously with flour; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it for 10 seconds, then roll it into a 5x12" rectangle. Brush with oil then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the short end, tightly roll the dough into a 5" log. Cut into three even segments and place two in the mini loaf pan and one in the ramekin. Cover with plastic wrap and, again, store in a warm part of your house until the rolls have doubled in size (about 60 minutes). Once the rolls have doubled, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Once preheated, place the cinnamon rolls in the oven. The ramekin cinnamon roll will need to bake for 18-20 minutes, while the mini loaf pan cinnamon rolls will need to bake for 22-24 minutes.

If you want to bake the rolls in a 6" cake pan, follow the steps above but roll the dough into an 6x10" rectangle and cut the dough into six 1" segments. Bake at 350˚F for 20-22 minutes. 

While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting by adding the powdered sugar, potato starch (if using), and cinnamon to a small mixing bowl and mix just until combined. Add the oil and maple flavor (if using), and mix with a spoon until combined. Keep in mind that the consistency of the frosting will depend on the temperature of your house. If your house is cool, you may need to add a bit more oil to achieve a spreadable consistency. If your house is on the warm side, you may need to mix in a bit more powdered sugar to ensure the frosting isn't too runny.

When the rolls are finished baking, remove from the oven and invert them onto a cooling rack. If the rolls don't come out of their pans, it's because you didn't use enough flour. SORRY! You'll have to fight like hell to scrape them out - and they'll be nearly unrecognizable (read: ugly) - but thankfully they'll still taste delicious. Allow the rolls to cool for five minutes then spread with frosting and serve immediately. Top with pecan pieces, if desired.

Yield: 3 cinnamon rolls

Notes: If you don't have the ginger + pumpkin cream but realllllly want some overnight chia pudding action in your life, this recipe should do the trick. Though I'd replace the beet powder with a shake or two of turmeric and add 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree, for good measure. If you don't remember to make this the night before, reduce the almond milk to 2/3 cup.

OVERNIGHT GINGER + PUMPKIN CHIA PUDDING WITH MAPLE COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1/4 cup (60g) ginger + pumpkin cream
3 tablespoons (30g) chia seeds
1-2 tablespoons (20-40g) grade B maple syrup
3/4 cup (168g) unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Pinch of fine sea salt

TOPPINGS
Coconut whipped cream (made with maple flavor instead of vanilla extract)
Ground cinnamon
Pecan pieces
Flaked coconut
Toasted buckwheat groats

Add the ginger + pumpkin cream to a jar and stir in the chia seeds and maple syrup. Slowly mix in the almond milk, followed by the salt, then cover the jar and let the pudding chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, top with coconut whipped cream and allllll the other toppings because THE MORE THE MERRIER.

Yield: 1 bowl