You've been planning for weeks. The finish line is in sight. You're making one last mighty effort today, the day before Thanksgiving, to get everything prepped for tomorrow's feast.
What's in your oven right now?
What yeast dough is rising in a bowl snuggled next to the woodstove... and what pie filling is mixed and ready, simply waiting for its crust to chill?
When baking is your passion, Thanksgiving is an extra-special treat. It may at times be fraught with stress – will the rolls rise? Will the crust be flaky? – but when everyone sits down to dinner tomorrow, you'll heave a sigh of relief and humbly accept the plaudits.
"Oh, these rolls... I remember Gram used to make rolls like these. Did you use her recipe?"
"This is the best pecan pie I've ever had. Ever. How did you do it?"
It just doesn't get any better, does it?
The one thing I HAVE to make every Thanksgiving is dinner rolls. No one in my family does it better. That's because no one in my family does it at all – except me. So the competition for Best Roll on the Table is pretty one-sided – I win every year.
But I can't just make any rolls. They have to be soft and white and a tad sweet; I call them nursery rolls, perfect for everyone from 4-year-old Elizabeth to her 90-something great-grandmother.
I have to make Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns.
But this year, I've added a new twist, one I'm sure everyone will love.
Yes, unappealing as a Tupperware container of cold, 2-day-old oatmeal might be when you're rustling up breakfast, it's heavenly for any yeast bread recipe you want to make just a bit more moist, dense, and "earthy."
Here's how to add cooked oatmeal to your favorite roll recipe. Basically, you substitute cooked oatmeal for part of the water or milk in your recipe.
But how do you know exactly how much liquid to substitute for?
Look at the oats' preparation instructions. And be prepared to break out your scale.
The directions on my canister of steel-cut oats says to cook 1 cup oats in 4 cups of water.
A cup of steel-cut oats weighs 5 3/4 ounces. Four cups of water weigh 32 ounces. Thus prepared oatmeal is basically 15% oats, 85% water. (Yes, you have to do some simple division to come up with those percentages. C'mon, you know you can!)
Prepared oatmeal weighs 8 ounces per cup. So each cup of oatmeal is 6 3/4 ounces water, 1 1/4 ounces oats.
My golden butter bun recipe calls for 2/3 cup water + 1/2 cup milk. I'm going to add a cup of prepared oatmeal to the recipe – which means I have to omit 6 3/4 ounces of liquid.
So I leave out all of the water (5 3/8 ounces), and 1 3/8 ounces milk (let's make that 1 1/2 ounces, which is 3 tablespoons).
I mix the dough; it's fine, not too dry, not too sticky, nubbly from the oats.
Shape the rolls, let them rise. Bake.
Brush with butter and pull apart. Oh, my... Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns with oatmeal are a touch denser than the original, perfect for soaking up gravy. And they're wonderfully moist, thanks to the starch in the oats.
I know it's too late now, but give this a try next time you're making dinner rolls (and/or have a sad-looking container of cooked oatmeal in the fridge). It should also work well with regular rolled oats; Cream of Wheat, or any other cooked breakfast cereal you happen to have in your cupboard.
OK, enough about me. What are YOU baking today?
Please share in "comments," below. Let's all take a quick peek into one another's kitchens in these last frenzied hours before the Thanksgiving feast.
Have a GREAT day tomorrow, everyone. Relax; give thanks for the positives in your life and the folks around your table. Enjoy the results of your kitchen labor.
And be sure to leave room for the pie!