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Category Archives: eggless bakes

Garlic Rolls in a Convection Oven

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garlicbreadrolls.jpg

I posted this picture on instagram, and got so many comments about not being able to trust a convection oven to make bread/ cake and cookies.

 First things first, there are a lot of misconceptions about using a convection oven in India. Most low end models of convection ovens usually come in combination with a microwave and hence a lot of people feel they own a microwave oven and cannot bake in it. Higher end convection ovens are mostly stand alone ones. Check your oven user manual to find out how your’s works. These are observations I have made based on interactions with students and participants from my baking classes and I am hoping to debunk a few myths.

  • A convection oven is an oven which heats up using electric coil or a heating element, similar to an OTG. The difference is that in addition, convection ovens have a fan built in, which distributes the heat evenly. This means that heating is far more efficient in a convection oven when compared to an OTG. However in India, there is a feeling among users, that only OTGs (oven toaster griller) have the ability to bake cakes and cookies or bake them better than convection ovens. This is not true.
  • To use a convection oven, firstly read the manual thoroughly. Each oven functions differently and hearsay about what a friend / neighbour uses is mostly not helpful. If anything it only serves to confuse, unless validated with data.
  • To use your oven, you need to identify three functions and their controls in your oven. Thermostat – to set the temperature, Timer – to choose the time for baking, Preheat function – to preheat your oven, sometimes this is the power button or the start button if your oven does not have a separate preheat button.
  • Check if the thermostat is functioning efficiently. To do this, you can use an oven thermometer and place it inside the oven, after preheating, check if the thermometer is showing the same temperature as the thermostat indicates. If it shows a variation more than 5-10 degrees, get a technician to calibrate the oven and check again. Do not resort to guess work as it can lead to disastrous baking results. Get your oven fixed rather than trying to work around a heating problem.
  • Also, since most combination convection microwave ovens come with a turntable, it is important to place the wire tripod (usually provided with the oven) on the turntable and place the baking pan ON TOP of the wire rack. The heat needs to get to the baking pan from all sides. When the baking pan is placed on top of the turntable without any height, the bottom cooks poorly.
  • Once the oven is placed in the convection mode, oven proof utensils can be used. These include metal, aluminum, silicone, bake proof glass and paper.
  • One issue which most people complain about is that a convection oven does not result in a crust/ browning the way an OTG does. This is true, only because of the distribution of heat via the fan. To get a deeper coloured result, turn on the overhead grill in your convection oven for the last 1 minute of baking. Anything more and it will dry out your cake.
  • Unless the oven is overheating or underheating, do not change the baking temperature for any recipe. Follow the temperature and baking time as specified by the recipe instructions.
  • The key to getting the best results from your oven, no matter what kind it is, is PRACTICE. The more you bake, the more comfortable you get with your oven and its functions. All ovens are different and they do give varying results. But to solely blame the oven for a baking disaster is not correct. Many times, when probed, my students who complain about not getting proper results with a convection oven will confess that they messed up the recipe and then blamed the oven.
  • Baking is a science, mostly chemistry. It is the combination of the right proportion of Wet + Dry ingredients, combined with a rising agent and exposed to a certain amount of heat. An error in any of these elements will result in a bad product. I will do a baking 101 soon.

Garlic bread rolls recipe (Makes 12 rolls)

3 cups flour ( I used 1.5 cups wheat flour + 1.5 cups all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon active dried yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk (temperature of the milk should be about 95-97 degrees F – when you place your finger in the liquid, it should feel a few degrees warmer than your body temperature. Any hotter and you will kill the yeast)

1.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons soft butter

3-4 pods of fresh garlic, grated or use 1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon herbs of choice (optional, use dried or fresh)

room temperature water as needed (about 2/3 cup)

1/4-1/2 cup dry flour for kneading

Method: warm the milk and add the sugar and yeast to it. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should froth up and form a foam like cappuccino. If this does not happen, wait a few more minutes. If there is no frothing, it is safe to assume that the yeast is either inactive or that the water is too hot. Discard the mixture and start again. If it does not work the second time as well, get a fresh batch of yeast.

Measure the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and garlic to the bowl and mix with your fingers. Add the herbs also if using.

Once the yeast has frothed up, add the milk to the flour and combine to make a dough. Add extra water, at room temperature, to make a dough that feels a little soft and sticky. The dough should be much softer and wetter than roti dough. Do not be tempted to add dry flour to this mixture.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

On a clean and dry surface, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of dry flour, dump the dough onto the surface and knead with your hands for 10 minutes. At first the dough will be very sticky and difficult to manage. But resist the temptation to add more dry flour. Add the butter and oil a little at a time to create a smooth and elastic dough. Use only half the dry flour and only IF needed. When you touch the dough, it should feel rubbery to the touch once kneaded. Roughly 10 minutes of kneading should be sufficient.

to check if the dough is ready, take a small marble sized piece and roll it into a ball. Gently spread it between your fingers to see if it spreads without tearing. If it tears too easily, the dough needs to be kneaded some more.

Spread a little oil on a clean bowl, shape the dough into a round and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth. Leave it to rise in a warm spot which doesnt get direct breeze for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and how warm your kitchen is.

The dough should become double in size. If you are unsure, just place the dough in a plastic see through container. On the outside, take a ruler and mark the inches. When you place the dough, if it is at 4 inches, it should come up to 8 inches when it is ready. When you place the dough in the container if it was at 3 inches, it should come up to 6inches. Etc.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn it onto a kneading surface. Press out the air gently and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape them into balls, ensuring to press and seal the loose ends at the bottom. Repeat with all the dough balls.

Prepare a 9 inch round or square baking pan by brushing it with melted butter or oil. Place an aluminum foil at the bottom of the baking pan and brush this too with oil/ melted butter. This is optional, but makes for an easy clean up and prevents the rolls from sticking to the pan.

Place the shaped rolls 1 inch apart in the baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes to rise to double. The space between the rolls should be filled with the plumped up dough. The tops can be brushed with a beaten egg, I skipped this step. This egg wash gives a deep browning to the top.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius. Place the metal baking rack in the middle of the oven. Place the baking pan with the rolls on this. Close the oven door and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Check the doneness at 25 minutes, by gently opening the oven door & checking the rolls. They should have a uniform golden brown top. If they are still pale, continue to bake for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Brush the hot rolls with melted butter. Remove the rolls gently from the pan by turning the pan upside down onto a rack or a plate, cover with a dry clean kitchen cloth and cool another 5 minutes.

Enjoy the rolls warm with butter or a gravy curry/ stew or soup.

Home made bread will dry out if left exposed. Cover with a clean dry cloth until needed. Do not put the hot rolls in a closed container, they will steam and get soggy.

To store leftovers, either wrap with clingfilm and store, or place it on paper towels and then put it in an airtight container. Always refrigerate bread if not using within 24 hours.

I would love to answer any questions you may have for this recipe. If you have read this far, then thank you for your patience. If you try this out, please send me a picture of your bread rolls.

Happy baking!

Eggless Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

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Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

I’ve been going over my food pictures over and over again for the last hour. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has been happening and I wrote about it here. Dismal little has been said here. I miss writing here, sometimes the words fail me, sometimes I’m too tired, I have about 25 draft posts and yet nothing to publish. I haven’t been cooking much, definitely nothing fancy and blog worthy. Sometimes I just want to post something, but even that I haven’t been able to…

I’ll start with this cake. I made it last Diwali. Yes that’s a long time ago, but wait, I have pictures that date back to about 5 years ago that will probably never get posted here, or anywhere else. So its ok I think to be posting stuff from not older than a year ago.

So about this cake, it started with wanting to make something with an Indian mithai flavour. One of my favourite Indian sweets is the Pista roll, very similar to kaju katli, but the flavour of pistachios and the colour just gets me as excited as a child each time. I made this cake eggless since I took some of it to share with K’s parents who don’t eat eggs. I used a little buttercream to pretty it up and cut the cake into squares. You can also bake this batter as cupcakes in a paper lined muffin tray.

 

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Eggless Pistachio Cake

2/3 cup                  Milk at room temp

3 Tablespoons       Yoghurt/ curd

1 teaspoon             Pistachio essence

1 1/2 cups              Maida

1/4 cup                  Ground Pistachios

3/4 cup                  Sugar

1/2 teaspoon          Salt

1 1/2 teaspoon       Baking powder

a pinch                   Baking soda

7 tablespoons         Vegetable Oil

1/2 teaspoon          green food colour (optional – I used this)

Preheat oven to 350F / 180 C. Line an 8 inch square cake pan with paper and grease.

Powder the sugar till fine. Add the maida, ground pistachios, salt, baking powder and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork or a spoon to mix together.

Whisk together the milk, yoghurt, pista essence, colour if using and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and with a wooden spoon or a hand held whisk, mix till well blended.

The batter should fall in thick ribbons. Pour the batter into the cake pan and tap it to remove air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before slicing into 16 equal squares.

To make the buttercream

1/2 cup    Butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cup   Confectioner’s Sugar / Icing Sugar

2 tablespoons Thandai syrup (substitute with 2 tablespoons milk mixed with crushed cardamom pods, rose petals and a few drops of rose essence)

A few drops of pista essence and green food colour

With a hand beater, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and whisk till fluffy. Add the thandai syrup, essence and colour and beat. Taste and adjust for sweetness or flavour. Place a star tip nozzle in a piping bag or in a ziplock bag and add the buttercream to it. Press out swirls or rosettes onto each square piece of the cake. Serve with some tea or coffee or with a scoop of icecream as dessert.

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

There is a brand of cookies that sells heart shaped cookies made of puff pastry. Sprinkled with sugar, these were quite the rage. I decided to try my hand at them with ready made puff pastry. If you want to make them from scratch, there is an easy to do puff pastry recipe here. I use this quite often, but chill the butter just a bit (because our room temperature is not the same as room temperature in the recipe’s country of origin)

There is puff pastry available in my neighborhood super market and I buy it sometimes to try various bakes. I want to attempt a pot pie with puff pastry  as the topping next.

These are good as a quick snack to serve with tea/ coffee, if you have last minute guests, or even as a valentine treat (since the great festival of love is almost upon us)

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweet Heart Cookies (Makes about 20)

10x 8 rectangle of Puff pastry (depends on the size of the sheet that is available. I used half of the sheet I get in a roll)

2 tablespoons Granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons Milk

Spread out the puff pastry on a piece of aluminum foil or butter paper, smoothen it with your hands.

Roll the left part inwards to the right, and the right part towards the left. It should look like a pair of binoculars.

Slice the rolled up dough into ¼ inch slices using a sharp knife and lay them flat on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.

Brush all the cookies with the milk and sprinkle the granulated sugar.

Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees celsius for 12-13 minutes or till they are golden brown. Cool before serving

These cookies taste best fresh. Store in an airtight container if keeping.

They can also be dipped in melted chocolate for a more indulgent treat.

Nutella and Fresh Fruit Dessert Pizza

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Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

For some reason, I am terribly preoccupied these days. I lose track of what I was doing and the only way to stay sane is my multiple to-do lists. I am spending a lot less time at the laptop, but my phone bills are testimony to the amount of time I am connected online, monitoring the FB page and emails and other stuff.

Such is my preoccupation, that on the last trip to the bank, I wasted not one, but three cheque leaves because I either entered wrong numbers or signed where I wasn’t supposed to! I spend over 45 minutes gazing at the stuff on the shelves in the supermarket and will forget to bring home something basic like sugar. Not that I am overworked, I am just forgetting stuff.

I’ve been posting recipes here with a lot more frequency than this blog is used to, and yet forgot to tell you something important that I am part of. Sometime in March, when I went to Goa on vacation and met up with two of my favourite bloggers Aparna and Revati, we decided to finally make a blogger’s meet happen. We had been talking about it for a couple of years, but this time we decided to stop talking and start doing. If you are connected with me via FB you will know, that the first ever Indian Food Blogger Meet is happening in Bangalore. It will be held in August on 1-2 and promises to be a two day celebration of blogging and bloggers. We have a lot of interesting and useful session lined up and I cannot even tell you how excited I am that an idea that I had in my head is actually taking shape in front of my eyes. If you want to know more about this, connect with us on FB or follow us on twitter. We even have a blog which will have all the updates.

For each one of us involved, with a different sensibility, skill set, located in a different city, with multiple things happening in our offline lives, yet we have managed to do all the main things and invite people who will add value by sharing their blogging journey. There is a lot more to do in terms of typing up loose ends, but the agenda has been put together after much thought and aimed to be of value to the participants. I am delighted that speakers, some of them very respected bloggers are travelling from across the country to be at this meet. If you are a blogger and would like to be a part of this, here is the information on how you can participate.

Thank you for the overwhelming response to the post about Amma’s operation. I am happy to update that she is recovering well and is active. Each comment both here and on FB was read to her and she has expressed her thanks. I had friends and family calling me all through the day of the operation. My classmate from college when to a temple and dedicated 1008 chants to her, Amma’s best friend was at the Kanakadurga temple at Vijayawada when I texted to tell her that everything went well and offered special prayers in thanksgiving. Some friends and family woke up at 4 AM and prayed through the time of her procedure. Aunty E was praying and waiting by the telephone for an update. My MIL stayed by my side, carrying water and sandwiches that FIL had made so that I would have moral support.  I am overwhelmed with the goodwill that Amma enjoys. Whatever be your faith, the circle of love, prayers, healing energies and spirit enveloped us as a family and Amma especially is something I am extremely grateful for it.

After all that heavy duty information sharing, here is a fun recipe that will be a hit for a child’s birthday party or as an adult dessert option/ after school snack or a treat for good behaviour 😀

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Fruit and Nutella Whole-wheat Pizza (Makes 2 personal pizzas)

Whole-wheat flour     11/2 cups

Instant yeast     1 teaspoon

Sugar     1 teaspoon

Milk     ½ cup

Water     ½ cup

Butter     1 tablespoon

Nutella     4 tablespoons

Fresh fruit     11/2 cup (use mango, banana, strawberries, apples or any other firm seasonal fruit)

Dried nuts     a sprinkling

Warm the water and the milk to the same temperature used to set yogurt. Add the sugar and yeast, stir and set aside till the mixture is frothy and doubles up. This should take about 10-15 minutes

The yeast must activate for this recipe. If the yeast does not froth, the pizza won’t be puffy and soft.

Mix the flour with the salt. Add the milk and yeast mixture to the flour and knead into a dough. It should be softer than chapati dough, but not soggy.

Put the dough onto a surface with some dry flour and knead it gently for 3-4 minutes till it becomes soft and spongy. Add the butter and knead it completely.

Put it in a clean bowl, cover with foil or a damp clean towel and let it rise to double, for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Prepare a baking sheet by brushing it with vegetable oil.

Divide the doubled up dough into two or three parts. Make it into a round ball and flatten gently. Sprinkle with some dry flour and roll into a round, like a roti. The thickness of this should be about ⅓ inch. Prick it with a fork and place it on the baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough and place on the baking sheet so that the pizzas don’t touch each other.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 6-7 minutes.

Spread nutella on the top of the cooked pizza, arrange fresh cut fruit on top, sprinkle the nuts. Cut into triangles and serve immediately.

 

Breakfast Muffins with Mango ~ Wholewheat & Egg-less

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A breakfast muffin is a misnomer. Make and enjoy these tasty little muffins any time of the day. They can be ofcourse had for breakfast, warmed slightly with a little butter, or as a tea time snack, post workout indulgence or snack box item for an adult or child.

I was almost entirely inspired by this recipe of fellow blogger who I endlessly stalk. I added chopped mango pieces instead of making them into a pulp. Remember how I gushed about her Masala Bread and made this Wholewheat Spinach Bread? Anyhoo, prolific bloggers make me mad. How do they churn out yumminess, take amazing pictures and have the post up before the season is out? Beats me…after all these years of blogging, I still can’t get my posts up and running.

On a side note, how many of you have food pictures from 4 years ago that you haven’t blogged yet? (*raises hand guiltily).

Wholewheat Mango Muffins

Whole Wheat Egg-less Mango Muffins

Makes 6 muffins

Mango                                     1 cup peeled and chopped (about 1/2 a large mango – I used Bananaganapalle)

Whole Wheat Flour            1 cup

Milk                                          1/2 cup

Jaggery/ Sugar                    ¼ cup (grated if using jaggery)

Baking Powder                     1 teaspoon

Baking Soda                           ½ teaspoon

Cardamom                             2 pods, skin removed and powdered smooth

Vegetable Oil                        2 tablespoons

Salt                                            a pinch

Vinegar                                   1 teaspoon

Coconut                                  2 tablespoons (fresh coconut grated or use dried)

Granola                                   2 teaspoons (for the topping)

 Whisk together the flour, coconut, salt, cardamom powder, baking powder and soda.

Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 C and lightly coat the insides of the pan with oil.

Add the oil and grated Jaggery/ sugar to the milk and vinegar and mix till the Jaggery has melted

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently in a few strokes till a batter is formed. Add the mango pieces and mix.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tray till about 2/3 full, top with the granola and bake for 26-28 minutes. Insert a skewer into the muffin at 25 minutes, if it comes out clean, remove from the oven.

Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a little butter.

Baking ~ Boozy Ganache Filled Tarts (Eggless)

Ganache Filled Tarts

Ganache Filled Tarts

For someone who plays and works with chocolate, I post painfully few recipes here using chocolate… am about to remedy it. I first ate a jam tart was in college when my friend got some and I was so smitten. I thought her grandmother (who made them) was some angel with a magic wand. the same year, I spent good friday and easter with them in their home at Trivandrum and indeed her grandmother was an angel with a magic wand. For four days, all I did was gorge on amazing food and sleep like a hibernating bear…. I cannot forget her sweet face and impeccably kept home… more importantly, the warmth of her heart and the terrific relationship she had with her granddaughter, my friend D.

On that nostalgic note, each time I make tarts, I think of Ammachi… This batch was made almost a year ago and filled with Chocolate Ganache.

tart shells

tart shells

Ganache Filled Tarts

For the tart shell (Makes about 14-16 medium tart shells)

Maida – 1½ cup

Chilled butter – ½ cup (cut into small pieces)

Pinch of salt

Ice cold water – 1-2 teaspoons

With your fingers, mix the butter into the Maida till it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the iced water and gently knead into dough. Keep in the fridge for an hour. Make two portions of the dough, using a clean surface; gently roll out using very little dry flour. Make a large chapatti and cut out enough dough to line a tart shell. Press into it carefully and prick all over with a fork. Repeat till all the dough is used up. Preheat oven to 210 degrees C, fill the tart shells with beans or raw rice and bake for 12 minutes or till the edges are golden. Remove and cool completely.

tart shells

tart shells

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

Dark chocolate slab – 100 grams

Milk chocolate slab – 50 grams

Milk – ¼ cup

Whiskey or brandy – 1 teaspoon (optional)

In a bowl kept over boiling water, melt the chocolate and mix well. Add the milk and the alcohol (if using) and thoroughly mix. This is the ganache to be poured into the tart shells just before serving. If you want to store it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge; gently reheat over a pan of hot water to use.

Baking ~ Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

How sweet is it that a friend you meet online becomes so important that even if I were to stop blogging, the friendship wont end. Arundhati was out shopping she saw these cute christmassy stuff and immediately sent me a package… besides the christmas supplies, it had these little packets of yeast. if you are in India you will know that the dry active yeast we get here is so bad, you have to pray to the forces that be, that the dough will rise! The blogosphere was afire the last few weeks with pumpkin recipes for thanksgiving, I made these rolls to celebrate the packets of yeast ( This post has been in my drafts for almost a year. Ironic that pumpkin season is back). If there is just one recipe you want to try that uses pumpkin, do try these brilliant Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

Perfect for breakfast, or for an evening snack… if like me, you are also perpetually craving a sugar high, have one warmed up with a dollop of fresh cream.

I found a picture on foodgawker, led me to this site called Ambrosia, head over for some fantastic baking. I adapted it a bit with the flour and spices, and left out the maple frosting. otherwise the recipe is pretty much the same. the following is my version.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

For the Dough

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

3/4 cup Pumpkin puree ( I used fresh puree)

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon allspice

For the Filling

3 tablespoons castor sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes

4 tablespoons butter, melted

To Make the Dough

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water along with a pinch of sugar, and let stand for ten minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, pumpkin puree, milk, melted butter, granulated sugar, salt, and spices, the yeast and water and with the dough blade, mix until all the ingredients come together.  Knead the dough in the mixer for 7-8 minutes, or alternatively, turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead by hand, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a towel.  Place the bowl in a warm spot and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

To prepare the filling, combine the castor sugar, brown sugar, all-purpose flour, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add the butter, and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives, just until the mixture begins to form crumbs the size of peas.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface, and with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12 x 10 inch rectangle.  Brush on the remaining melted butter, and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough like a swiss roll, tightly to form a cylinder. Slice the cylinder into about 12 equal pieces, and place in a greased 10 x 8 rectangular baking dish. Cover with a towel, and let rise another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack, and allow the cinnamon rolls to cool in the pan.

At this point, you can make a simple sugar glaze for the rolls if you wish, dust with sugar or serve as is. These rolls are mildly sweet and have an excellent texture. They need to be stored in the refrigerator if you intend to keep them for more than 24 hrs in tropical climates. reheat in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes before serving or simply bring to room temperature. Tastes great with a dollop of fresh cream.

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