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Bathing in the Forest & a Recipe for Eggnog Cranberry Rolls

Walk In The Forest
I read this article the other day about the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”. Despite how it sounds, it doesn’t involve bathing in a forest. I’ve got to admit, at first I was a little disappointed; the idea of splashing around in the creek while rocking a shampoo bubble Mohawk sounded pretty appealing {not at this time of year, of course}.

Eggnog Cranberry Rolls
Apparently, to take part in this practice, you just need to walk around, observe, smell, and touch your surroundings. It’s even suggested that you taste some of what the forest has to offer {though, if I’m about to consume anything that tastes like trees it will, indeed, be gin}.

Eggnog Cranberry Rolls
Trust me, there’s a point to this. Spending time outdoors is supposed to de-stress you. It’s supposed to relax you and maybe even improve your immune system. Who doesn’t need that at this time of year? Between Christmas shopping and going out in public {or what I like to call, my regular re-enactment of Contagion}, we could all use a little bit of relaxation and a boost to the immune system.

It’s a good thing I live near a forest.

Eggnog Cranberry Rolls
It’s also a good thing that I walk around in said forest so much – or, bathe in it, per se.

I’ll admit it’s mighty relaxing – and inspiring. Somehow, every time I go for a stroll in the woods I end up with a handful of photos and an outstanding desire to get back in my kitchen and get creative. For example, during my walk the other day, “eggnog!” popped in my head and I rushed home to make some Eggnog Cranberry Rolls. Surely baking inspiration isn’t the intended outcome for this tried and true activity, but for me, that’s what happens; and I’m cool with that.

Shampoo bubble Mohawk or not, this method of relaxation is right up my alley – mind, body, and taste buds. Where do you find your inspiration?

Eggnog Cranberry Rolls

Eggnog Cranberry Rolls
Inspired by Cooking Light’s Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 16

¾ cup light eggnog mixed with ¼ cup water, ¼ cup skim milk, warmed (between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit; heat in microwave for about 60 seconds)
3 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
Zest of one orange
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons eggnog
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped (or, pulsed in a food processor a few times)

¼ cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons eggnog

1. Pour eggnog/water/milk mixture into a large bowl; sprinkle yeast over top and let rest for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk all-purpose and whole wheat flours together.

3. Add butter, sugar, salt, vinegar, egg and egg white, orange zest, and vanilla to the eggnog/yeast mixture. Stir, and then add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed of an electric mixer (using a paddle attachment) for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix again for one minute. Add the remaining flour and mix in as much as you can with a spoon, and then turn out onto a clean surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes.

4. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap; place in a warm, draft-free spot for one hour, or until doubled in size. Line a 13×9 inch (or similar sized) baking dish with parchment, leaving a slight overhang.

5. Punch down dough and transfer to a clean surface; roll out into a 12×16 inch rectangle.

6. In a small bowl, whisk all filling ingredients (except cranberries) together. Drizzle over rolled-out dough and spread around evenly with a spoon; sprinkle cranberries evenly over top. Roll dough up tightly, starting on a long edge, so you have a 16 inch long roll. Pinch the ends, to seal, and then cut into 16 1-inch pieces.

7. Place rolls in the parchment-lined baking dish cut-side up, leaving an even amount of space between them. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45-50 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Bake rolls in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack while making the glaze.

9. To make the glaze, whisk the icing sugar and eggnog together. Brush or drizzle glaze on the rolls, and serve warm.