Monday, November 11, 2013

Curing the Cinnamon Roll Crave

Earlier this year, I decided to make a change. To exercise regularly and eat healthier. I did so and managed to stick with the plan until now plus/minus the occasional cheats and special events. Before I started eating clean and exercising regularly, I was a glutton. Oh yes, I would just give in to my cravings like it was part of my meal time. One of my favourites are Aunty Anne's pretzel. I would get either their Sour Cream & Onion or Cinnamon Sugar or even BOTH *yikes*. Okay, so here's the deal. I love cinnamon.  I love brown sugar AND cinnamon. I love cinnamon rolls. Auntie Anne's in One Utama is located just opposite Cinnabon. But the thing is, I never did fancy Cinnabon although I loved cinnamon rolls. The icing just scares me. I did however tried it once but I found it too sweet.

Lately, with exams around the corner... and all stuffed in the house almost the whole day. You just can't help but try to find something to get you off track [deliberately]. The day before yesterday, I had the sudden craving for cinnamon rolls but the thing is, I didn't fancy Cinnabon (although they do smell terrific!) and these days I am not keen on Auntie Anne's either. Ever since I started eating clean, I cooked often and baked often. Especially baking because when you bake your own desserts or breads, you get to control the amount of ingredients that goes into the batter/dough etc. As I was saying, the cinnamon roll craving hit me so I decided to ask my friend for the recipe. She is amazing and so were her cinnamon rolls. She made a batch some weeks ago and it tasted so good, I just had to! My friend's recipe is adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction which she tweaked to suit her taste buds, and I tweaked to suit mine.

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

yields: 9 -10 rolls approximately                       prep time: 3 hours                    cook time: 30 minutes


2 1/2 cups high protein flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or 3 cups all purpose flour)
2 tbsps molasses sugar (a.k.a brown sugar)
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsps active dried yeast
120 ml water
60 ml skimmed milk
6 tbsps coconut oil (or 40 grams butter)
1 large egg

2tbsps ground cinnamon (or 3 tbsps butter)
40 grams molasses sugar 
2 tbsps coconut oil

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tbsps milk (or enough to form a smooth consistency)
1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Dissolve the active dried yeast with a  pinch of sugar with 2 tbsps of lukewarm water. Mix until no lumps and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until it has bubbled and expanded.
  2. Set aside 1/2 cup of flour, whisk the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in a bowl until it combines to a rough paste. Mix in the water, milk and coconut oil. Add egg.
  3. Sprinkle in the reserved flour,  by 1/4 cup increments, knead it until the dough is soft and it cleans the side and bottom of your bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky but not sticky enough to stick on your hands. It should have a slightly sticky surface and an elastic texture.
  4. Lift the dough and lightly flour the same mixing bowl. Place the dough in and cover with clean dish towel. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. While dough is resting, prepare the filling. Mix ground cinnamon, molasses sugar and coconut oil until well mixed, set aside.
  6. After 10 minutes, roll dough out into a rectangle of about 14 x 8 inches on a flat surface.
  7. Spread filling all over the dough, and roll dough up into a tight log.
  8. Grease a baking pan, and cut the dough approximately 2 inches per section. To make the cutting easier and smoother, try greasing the knife with oil or as how I did, I dusted mine with flour and wipe the knife clean after each cut.
  9. Place dough onto greased pan, cut side up, and cover with dish towel. Let rolls rise for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours until they have risen almost double.
  10. Closer to the time when it has doubled in size (about 10 minutes before), preheat oven to 190 degree Celsius and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the top are lightly browned.
  11. Meanwhile, mix icing sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir everything together until there are no lumps in the sugar.
  12. Right before serving, drizzle glaze over the rolls.

Mix all dough ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Final product of dough after mixing all dough ingredients. Bouncy, Sticky & Elastic.

Filling: Mix molasses sugar, ground cinnamon & coconut oil.

Spread filling onto flat rolled out surface of dough. 

Roll tightly into log.

Cut approximately 2 inches each section. 

Grease pan & lay cinnamon rolls cut face up. Cover & let to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Mix ingredients for the glaze.

Cinnamon rolls after baking! Doubled in size! :D

The aroma of cinnamon rolls baking was just heavenly! I was so excited and couldn’t wait for it to be done! I actually prefer it without the glaze because I added lots of cinnamon into it! I substituted butter with coconut oil because I didn’t have butter at home, and I was too lazy to head out just to get butter. Also, it is a healthier alternative using coconut oil. Plus, I found out that the texture of the bread was actually lighter as compared to using butter and less oily/greasy. However, coconut oil is quite pricey so I would suggest if you do not have any future plans for the coconut oil, just stick with butter.

I made sure not to include too much whole wheat flour as the bread will turn out rock hard! If you plan on making whole wheat bread and not cracking your teeth, mix it with all-purpose flour. The consistency of the plain flour to whole wheat flour was perfect because the rolls turned out fluffy and soft. It wasn't packed or heavy neither was it too filling. I plan on trying a healthier version than this, but it will require more work and more pure/natural ingredients.

Halfway through baking, I realised how easy it was to make cinnamon rolls. Even easier than baking cake IMO. I guess there will be more of this in the future! Save my money, save my waistline! ;) I modified the recipe a bit to make it "less" sinful also because I made do with the ingredients that I have in my kitchen.

Simply delightful!

A Sunday well spent indeed! :D Now...

*crawls back to exam notes*

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween Dinner at Nathalie's Gourmet @ Solaris Dutamas

Goodbye October and hello November! Which means Christmas is approaching! I am having my final exam of my final year in two weeks time and I'm thinking of Christmas, and i'm planning about my vacation in December, what to bring, what to wear, will it be enough. Haha. That aside, it was Halloween yesterday, and I haven't gone all out before for Halloween so far with the costumes and make up, but yesterday... yesterday... NOPE. Not even yesterday. :p I just make do with whatever I have in my closet or whatever is lying around the house. No dress up, no parties for me but I joined my sister and the friend for dinner at Nathalie's Gourmet. In conjunction with Halloween, they had a Halloween set menu for the occasion. It was (wait for it....) an 18 course meal. Yes you read it. An 18 course fine dining set menu. Well, you'd think, "Oh, cheeehh....fine dining. Portion so small, shouldn't be filling at all". Trust me, it was filling and it fed my tummy splendidly!

Howdy Ho! Cowgirl June is ready to bring you on a food-tastic ride!

I've heard that Nathalie's is very good, but I only tried it once at a wedding (they do catering too) and those were only canapés and finger food, not meals. I tried their macarons back then and I would say that it is one of the best so far other than the one which I tried in Perth, Australia - Maison Saint-Honore. The chef and owner of Nathalie's Gourmet Studio is Nathalie and is a French and so this is as authentic as it can get in Malaysia. The menu of the night was designed and prepared by Nathalie herself. Without further adieu, I hereby present to you a gastronomical affair, the "Goulish Festival Menu"

18 course "Ghoulish Festival" Menu

The names for the dishes were really creative and some dishes' presentation and design also represented exactly the name of the dish. Some of their food also matched the colour (i.e. black, red, orange)according to the theme of Halloween. Very innovative indeed! Oh, and, if you're reading this at night... Good luck. ;)


Guacamoldy Black Chips

I do believe that their chips are made in-house. Its texture and taste are like thinly sliced and crisp bread. I was unhappy because they only gave us one slice each! :( The guacamole paste was thick and rich in flavour, very strong avocado flavour with little avocado chunks in it. I loved the salsa! It was something new, unlike the ones that I have tasted in other places. It was tangy and refreshing, but tasted not so much of the tomato.

Foie Gras Royale, Celeriac Cream, Croutons

This actually has two layers to it. Our theory was that the foie gras cream settled at the bottom (intentionally). The celeriac cream on top was smooth and creamy, it didn't had a heavy flavour to it because the foie gras cream at the bottom was salty. It blends well with the cream on top and the foie gras doesn't have the raw  fat liver smell or taste.

Marinated Tuna Blinis, Basil Cream

I love canapés. Really. Especially those that are topped with smoked salmon, and in this case smoked tuna. The basil cream's texture was like whipped cream but creamier. There wasn't a strong taste of basil though. The smoked tuna dominated the flavour. I didn't fancy the bread so much, I prefer if it was a cracker.

Me enjoying my glass of "Bloody" Kir Royal champagne

We ordered two set menu with Kir Royal. The set menu costs RM 120++ but it costs RM150++ with a Kir Royal. 

Main Courses

Devilish Eggs
Parmesan Sable, Tomato Compote, Soft Boil Quail Egg, Black Pesto, Parmesan Shavings

The moment I took the first bite, I already fell in love with the first dish and I knew that it was gonna be a phantastic dinner! The crust (parmesan sable) was like a cheesecake crust except that you could taste the cheesy  parmesan bits and crumbly BUT it was firm. The tomato compote went well with the parmesan sable and the black olive pesto. Sweet, salty and a tangy, all happening at once. *drooling* Best part was, the quail egg... It acted as "gravy" for the dish.  When we cut open the egg, the yolk oozed out. Too perfect! :3

Runny quail yolk! 

Warm Yellow Curry Crab in Kadaif Nest, Topped with a Rich Tomato Foam

This was one of the Asian dishes on the menu. Just imagine (dry) curry crab and with diced onions and crab meat shreds. This was, for me, so-so. Because it tasted like something that I could find in a Chinese seafood restaurant. the Kadaif nest was very cripsy and when the tomato foam and curry crab seeps into the Kadaif, it softens and it was like eating rice vermicelli in curry.

Slowly cooked Squid Stuffed with Oxtail Confit, Portobello Mushrooms, Intense Oxtail Jus, Mesclun

This dish, falls under one of my favourites too. The sauteed portobello mushroom was normal, because I've tasted better ones elsewhere. Yes and it is indeed "ghostly". Great use of the squid as a representation of a ghost. The squid was big and fresh! The squid was chewy, bouncy but firm as you are able to bite and cut it off easily. You know how some squids takes you forever to chew them to snip it off, me no likey that. They stuffed the squid till its maximum with the Oxtail meat. the Oxtail tastes exactly like corned beef! It doesn't smell like it but it tastes like it. The sauce was thick and the meat were in little chunks which the sauce seeped deep in. Everything goes well, it makes the whole dish so juicy!

Oxtail stuffed Squid

Crusty Black Bread Cauldron, Green Pea Soup, Truffle Emulsion

My second favourite presentation that lives up to its name! The "cauldron" was very tiny btw. This is a close-up shot. XD It was around 2-inches in diameter. The cauldron was made out of bread made by in-house. They did a great job with the foam because it DOES look like a boiling cauldron! And then when you remove the foam, it reveals the green "sorcery" that it is - green pea soup. Haha.

There must be some sorcery in this cauldron because everything tastes too damn good!

The green pea soup turned out to be very very thick. It was very pea-ish as if you were eating the whole-ungrounded-pea. Although it was thick, but it remained creamy and smooth. A little kind of a milky taste I would say, but the green pea taste prevailed! Their black bread was very good! It was hard like a baguette but very crusty.It looked like a coconut as a matter of fact. XD In my opinion, the best bread-soup that I have eaten thus far Komugi's Pumpkin Bread soup has now fallen to second best. 

Hokkaido Scallop, Cremolata Gratin, Baby Beetroots and a Beetroot Reduction

T'was was a bloody affair. The scallop was cooked to the right texture. It was soft and juicy. It was slightly flavoured with salt. I tell you, this chef is amazing. She makes the most horrible tasting food, tastes so awesome. There wasn't a strong taste of beetroot (you know that earthy taste), just  very lightly. The Cremola Gratin gives the scallop a sweet taste to it and balanced out the beetroot. The champagne turned out to be sweet by this time of the meal. Complements well with the overall food.

Slowly Cooked White Fish Terrine, Lumpfish Caviar, Pan Fried Tiger Prawns, Virgin Dressing

I was and still ambivalent about this dish. One, because the white fish terrine felt a bit like I was eating a soft but not bouncy fish ball. Second, the prawn was overcooked. The fish was lightly flavoured as well because the caviar filling gives the flavour. The topping on top of the prawns were onions and tomato paste. The topping was the one that gave this dish the edge. It fives the slight "kick" because it was sourish most likely from lemon juice but the onions gave it the sweetness. The virgin dressing sorts of the agent that combines everything and keeps the prawn and the topping moist.

Pumpkin Sage Cannelloni, Caper Shallot Butter Sauce

My favourite presentation that lives up to its name! It looks like an angry mummy. XD  I just love her creativity! The pumpkin stuffing was with soft clumpy pumpkin with its pumpkin sauce. Somehow didn't tasted like a pumpkin, wasn't a strong pumpkin taste. The onions were sweet and the butter sauce went well with the dish. It didn't have the strong butter taste, neither was it like buttery oily kind. the ratio of the butter was just nice. The cannelloni was also finely sliced and cooked to the right texture as the cannelloni didn't went soggy in the butter or pumpkin sauce either. 

Decapitated mummy. :/

Rich Veal Osso Bucco with Carrot Squid ink Ravioli

It came in a bowl and it looked like a lighter version of the black fungus. At first I was wondering, "Where's the veal?" Lo and behold... it was hidden under the ravioli. The Osso Bucco complemented the tasteless ravioli and the veal was braised perfectly - tender and soft. The fragrant smell and mouth-watering flavour of the Osso Bocco seeped into the veal. But the natural smell of the veal is still apparent.

Tadaa! Hidden veal under the ravioli.

Smoked Piquillo tube, stuffed with three Coloured Quinoa, Piquillo Sauce

Okaym this was very diabolic indeed. It looked like a finger that has been cut and drenched in blood. :/ No fear, no fingers were harmed. Its Piquillo pepper. Its a type of chilli which is sweet but not spicy. This took a little bit of getting used to. It tasted like the "Yong Tau Foo" chilli actually but instead of stuffed with fish paste, these were stuffed with quinoa. The Piquillo was very soft and the quinoa just crumbles out from it because there was a slit at the bottom of the Piquillo.

Roasted Chicken Leg, Thai Flavours, Broad Beans and Sticky Rice

This was another Asian take. The Thai sauce was really Thai because it has that sourish taste to it but it wasn't spicy. The chicken thigh was very juicy and soft, the skin slightly caramelized. Their sticky rice wasn't as good as the Thai's of course. Their version of the sticky rice wasn't as sticky and compact as the Thai's sticky rice.



My favourite part of the night! DESSERTS!! :3 Okay the "Sweet Brains", "Tombstone Mousse" & Macaron came on one plate. The macaron is specially made for the Halloween Festival Menu and it's not available on their display. It was liquorice flavour. I don't like liquorice at all, tried, tasted, never liked it at all. But their liquorice macaron didn't had a trace of liquorice at all. We wanted more macarons so we bought another 5 pieces from their display! XD Their macarons' shell are soft and it crumbles gracefully and delicately. The macarons' filling are rich in their respective flavour. Most macarons out there are the buttery kind of filling. Nathalie's macarons tasted very pure as if they took it from the fruit itself.

Dark Chocolate Mousse in a glass, Tombstone Sable

Ordinary. Yeah, nothing to shout about this because this was an "expected" dessert. The mousse was thick and rich in chocolate. Probably too much chocolate for my liking but those who enjoy eating chocolate may just find pleasure in this. This was the only dessert that was a let down because the others were orgasmic!

Walnut Sable, Chocolate Ganache, Chestnut Chantilly

This was a delight to eat! Okay, the "right & left hemisphere" are walnuts BTW. XD The walnuts were covered in some sort of sugary coating and it tasted like it was roasted. The walnut didn't have the nutty walnut taste, instead it turned out to be crunchy. The cream in the middle was close to tasteless. It was good that it was close to tasteless actually because the sweet walnut was good enough. There is actually a dark chocolate ganache underneath the walnut and the cream. the taste of the bitter dark chocolate blended well and balanced with the sweet walnut and the cream. The bottom "disc" that the brain sits on was a soft bread.  Again, would've preferred something else than the bread. If there were more of this, I would've grabbed it!

Roasted Pineapples, Bony Meringue, Saffron Crème Anglaise sauce

The dessert that topped my list of best dessert of the night! The cream was actually pineapple cream with plentiful of diced roasted pineapple submerged within the cream. I think the drizzle on top was salted caramel and when you eat the meringue with the caramel, it was an indescribable feeling. It tasted even better with the pineapple cream! :3 It wasn't a lot but because by the time the desserts came, I was already 3/4 full. I stuffed myself anyway and finished this bowl of pineapple goodness.

Fresh Red Fruits, French Crepe, Raspberry Coulis

Oh the crepe. Best. Crepe. Ever.

It was a mouthful! I love-love-love their cranberry sauce! The sauce tasted like freshly crushed raspberry. Thick & juicy. The whipped cream tasted different as well. It doesn't have the sweetness of the commercial whip cream on the shelves. It has a dreamy & light texture. The crepe, soft, goes well with the whipped cream and raspberry sauce. Wouldn't mind having this for breakfast everyday!

When I took the last bite of my crepe, I slumped back into my seat. *Food coma* They definitely placed a spell on me with their piquant array of food. Each of their food has their speciality which makes the whole dining experience so much more enjoyable. Tasting each of their dishes, trying to figure its ingredients and just indulging it the food. Only thing was that some of their plates were quite small for the cutlery, other than that, the attention and delicacy that they place on their food is top-notch. My dining experience at Nathalie's is worth a 9/10. I wouldn't mind going back for special occasions or even just for their macarons! Hehe. You can check out their webpage - Nathalie's Gourmet Studio to take a look at what they have to offer. Nathalie offers cooking classes as well if you are interested! 

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