I’ll have what YOU like

I’ve never really been a cinnamon roll kind of girl. They’ve always just been too much for me. Too sticky, too messy… maybe even too sweet? I don’t dislike them but I don’t love them either, and it’s a pretty rare occasion when I’ll order one.

One of those rare occasions though, is if I’m somewhere and am personally recommended one. Because if there’s another type of girl I am not, it’s the kind that asks a server or other employee for their recommendations and then goes with something totally different, disregarding whatever the person just said. Especially offensive, in my opinion, if you’re at a restaurant and a server tells you how much they personally love a particular dish and rattles on about the ingredients or how it’s made. I just figure if you go out of your way to ask someone what they themselves like from a menu, unless it’s something you really don’t want to eat, just go with what they like. Otherwise, why ask? (I should also explain that many moons ago, when I was in college and studying abroad, an annoying girl I lived with used to do this constantly. We always went to the same restaurant and she’d always ask the waiter what he liked, but then, like clockwork, would go with something else. It got to the point where every time she asked, I just rolled my eyes and wondered why she was wasting everyone’s time.)

So when I found myself at the front of the line at Winner in Park Slope one morning, and the guy at the order window told me they didn’t have what I was looking for yet (grape focaccia, which wouldn’t be available until the afternoon) I asked him what he thought was good. Even with just their morning menu, which included croissants, scones, muffins and coffee cake, there was a lot to choose from and I wasn’t sure which direction to go.

“Definitely the cinnamon roll,” he said, without hesitation. “They’re my favorite.”

Welp, I thought, that settles it then, and ordered the cinnamon roll.

I initially opened the container it was in just to take a photo of the cinnamon roll before I ran back home with it to eat after a shower. (In retrospect I see how absurd that plan was, but that’s also who I am: a girl who will go on a run to a bakery, to then run back, holding a small take-out box with a cinnamon roll in it.) The second I got a good look at it though, I decided to eat it then and there, on the corner as people on morning walks went by with their dogs.

It was about the size of my palm and covered in a thick, even coat of icing, which for a very brief moment made my teeth ache in sugary anticipation. The moment I bit into the pillowy softness of the roll I was so glad I had asked though, because if I hadn’t, I would never have experienced the deliciousness filling my cheeks like a chipmunk. Inside, the glistening, cinnamony filling oozed from the still-warm swirls of golden, fluffy dough, and while it was on the messy side, I didn’t even mind.

I don’t know that I’m a full-blown cinnamon roll convert just yet, but if you ask me what to get at Winner, I’m gonna tell you to order the cinnamon roll.

Be here. Have cake.

I’ve been daydreaming a lot lately about living in a different city, and possibly because it was the last place I visited and because I loved it so much, my reveries have mostly been about New Orleans.

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Get you a friend who can bake

I spent a week there with friends during the holidays and a few weeks after my trip, The New York Times released its annual 52 Places To Go list, and whaddaya know? New Orleans snagged the number one spot of places to go for “escaping into the world.”

That happens to be exactly what I want to do, but since I can’t at the moment, I’m mostly just going to daydream about it. And because no daydream about New Orleans would be complete without food, that’s where my mind often wanders.

Since we’re in the time of year after Epiphany (Jan. 6) leading up to Mardi Gras (Feb. 13 this year) known as Carnival, I wanted to get my hands on some king cake, a traditional treat served all over New Orleans this time of year. When I saw that Joy the Baker, one of my favorite food bloggers who also happens to live in New Orleans, had her own recipe, I had a better idea: solicit the help of my talented baker extraordinaire friend, Stas, and make one ourselves.

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King cake in the making

She had most of the ingredients already (cause that’s just the kind of always-prepared-for-cake kind of badass she is) and I added the rest, mainly the fun accessories, Mardi Gras colored sprinkles (purple, green and yellow) and a historically accurate baby Jesus figurine.

King cakes are served in lots of other countries  (mostly the Catholic ones) and come in  different varieties but for the most part the New Orleans kind is a cinnamon roll-like doughy treat covered with frosting, and usually includes a small plastic baby hidden somewhere inside.

Stas had already made the dough when I came over, so we rolled it out and then made a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar to spread over it before sprinkling it with pecans, rolling the whole thing up and shaping into a giant ring. She then sliced it and twisted each slice so it made kind of a big, wonky looking flower, which we let sit for a bit before popping in the oven. Once it had risen and turned a nice, golden brown, we took it out, covered it in cream cheese frosting, topped it with the Mardi Gras colored sprinkles and plopped a little brown baby on top. (We didn’t hide him inside because we weren’t sure if he’d melt and we weren’t trying to do baby J like that.)

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Unto them a delicious cake was baked!

It was deliciously doughy and sweet, the comforting smell of  cinnamon and nutmeg wrapping us up in a warm hug as we tore off chunks of cake and licked globs of cream cheese frosting from our fingers. Sometimes it just takes a good friend and a warm, fresh cake to put my reveries on hold and make me happy being exactly where I am.