When I was in college and taking a series of cinema appreciation courses, the film professor would assign homework of films you must see to fill in the blanks of the films you saw in class. Like when we saw “The Searchers” with John Wayne, he would ask us to go home and find “Red River”. It helped me understand film better.
I would like to assign food you must eat to help you understand the food you are making and eating in class. You can’t get it all in cooking school. The first one will be cinnamon rolls. I have been eating Ann Sather’s cinnamon rolls for over 25 years now. It’s a breakfast place on Belmont under the el tracks. They have been there for over 50 years. Their cinnamon rolls are a revelation. I aspire to make cinnamon rolls as good textured as Ann Sather’s. They are just barely crispy on the exterior. I don’t really even want to say crispy though. And while we’re on the outside, the frosting. The flat icing is just the right consistency over the entire roll. It’s not too thick and not too thin, just right. Let’s go inside the roll. The interior is still steamy and gooey. I’m not saying it’s not baked. The starches have gelatinized and the proteins have coagulated. But it’s just barely baked. I think that is the key to good cinnamon rolls. Underbake them. Yes, I said it. Don’t bake them all the way. You have had cinnamon rolls that were dry and tasteless. It’s because they were overbaked! The flavor is a little sweet, a little cinnamon and a little vanilla. No flavor dominates over another. You have to eat the entire plate of them. Every breakfast gets three rolls. You don’t have to ask for them. I guess you could refuse them, but who would? We’ll make good cinnamon rolls in class but will they be as perfect as Ann Sather’s? You can try.