You know how sometimes you go to bed frazzled, exhausted, and completely depleted? And then other times, you want to run after the remaining hours of the day, waving your arms and calling for it to come back? Yesterday was the latter. And even though I had to clean human feces out of human toenails (please don’t ask), at the end of the day I wanted to chase October 25th like my life depended on it.
Annabelle (3) and Evelyn (1) started the day with a “play date” at our small and rustic home with four of their friends, ages almost-three, two and a half, one, and 5 months. I think if I could have bottled the gleeful shouting, sword fighting, bed jumping, sticker sticking, muffin making, graham cracker crushing controlled chaos it could have been used as an elixir for just about any ailment. It was pure joy.
Both of my girls were asleep before their friends were out of the driveway. Forty-five minutes later, Annabelle woke up, ran into Evelyn’s room, and woke her up because “she was lonely”. Her rationale was so genuine and so tender that even amidst Evelyn’s tearful protest, I was joyful and ever so grateful for the love in my home.
Fortunately, the post-nap weather was about as close to perfect as you can get–60’s and nothing but sunshine and blue skies. So the girls spent the afternoon outside-barefoot and semi-feral, covered in houndstongue, mud, and a fair number of benign scrapes and bruises. We started a bonfire, we made a stick and cardboard box fort, did handstands in the driveway, played ball and chased a Frisbee, drew chalk pictures, and played with a train set on the back patio while singing at the top of our lungs. I felt like I was living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Simple with a touch of understated elegance. Life at its finest.
As the sun began to set, our little fire petered out and the temperature became too cool (even by our standards) for bare feet so we danced our way back into the house. The house was cozy and still smelled faintly of chocolate and cinnamon from the batch of chocolate sourdough cinnamon rolls we’d attempted to make for the morning’s play date. Although quite tasty, the texture was reminiscent of those black and white checkered cookies that you usually get in a little tin around Christmastime. You know the ones? Again, quite tasty, but not exactly the texture I was going for with the cinnamon rolls. It was Annabelle who peered into the pan with wide eyes then scrunched up her little face and suggested we try to make them “poofy-er”. Oh my joyful heart.
So, even though dinner was still only a thought at 6:15 PM, both smoky-smelling girls (one without pants) sat on the counter and we re-made chocolate cinnamon rolls. And this time they were poofy.
These sourdough chocolate cinnamon rolls are pretty darn good. I significantly adapted them from this recipe when I was looking for ways to use large quantities of sourdough starter. I decided to make them chocolatey in honor of National Chocolate Day which is this Friday, October 28. The result is sweet, but far from cloying. I encourage you to use good quality chocolate and cocoa powder. The yeast in the original recipe is optional; I don’t recommend leaving it out. Its absence makes toddlers scowl. Be sure all ingredients are at the temperature specified in the recipe if you want the best result. I encourage you to try the rolls before you make the frosting. Annabelle LOVES the frosting, I could do without it. You could also leave the cocoa out of the frosting if you wanted a white frosting to contrast the dark color of the rolls. Up to you!
Finally, if you don’t have sourdough starter, but you’d like to try this recipe (please, please, please try this recipe!) let The Kitchn‘s Emma Christensen teach you how to make your own starter with three ingredients: water, flour, and time. As a last resort you could replace 1/4 cup flour with 1/4 cup cocoa in your favorite cinnamon roll recipe and add chopped chocolate to the filling. I have no doubt it’ll be delicious. Enjoy!
P.S. If you’ve attempted to use the recipe archives or the recipe link in the menu at any point during Just Warm Bread‘s life, you likely noticed they were embarrassingly dysfunctional. That’s changed now thanks to John and Dana’s incredible resources on their site minimalistbaker.com. Thanks guys!!!
- ¼ cup / 60 mL Warm water
- 1 teaspoon Active dry yeast
- 1 cup / 215 g Freshly fed sourdough starter
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- ½ cup / 100 g Sugar (I use organic cane sugar, but regular granulated sugar is just fine)
- ¼ cup / 30 g Cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup / 75 g Unsalted butter, very soft (some melting is fine)
- 2 Large eggs, room temperature
- 2-3/4 cup / 420 g All-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Vital wheat gluten (optional)
- 3 tablespoons Unsalted butter, very soft
- Heaping ⅓ cup / 80 g Brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Ground cinnamon
- 2 ounces / 57 g Chocolate, good quality, very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Sour cream
- ⅓ cup / 40 g Powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons milk
- pinch of salt
- For the dough:
- Mix warm water with yeast in a small liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine sourdough starter, salt, cinnamon, sugar, cocoa, butter, and eggs. With the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for one minute. Add yeast mixture and continue mixing for one minute more. Combine flour and vital wheat gluten (if using) and gradually add it to the liquid ingredients while the mixer is still running. Increase speed to medium-low and mix until the dough comes together. Decrease speed to low and "knead" for 3 minutes.
- If you don't have a stand mixer, mix ingredients in a large bowl in the same order and then knead on a lightly floured surface for 5-7 minutes. The dough should feel like a very soft Playdough.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours.
- After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rough 18 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the brown sugar and then the cinnamon and finally the chopped chocolate. Starting at the shorter end, roll the dough into a log making sure the seam is on the bottom when you're finished rolling. Cut the log into 12 equally sized pieces and place them into a 9 x 13 inch parchment lined baking pan. Allow to rise at room temperature for 1½ hours or you could place them in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile make the frosting. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until a thin frosting consistency is achieved. Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.