By K. Faith Morgan, associate editor
I feel like fall is the on-ramp to the full-blown DIY season: Christmas (when even the least crafty among us will throw together a jar of hot-chocolate mix and tie on a pretty bow). Even though—and maybe especially because—Christmas is a bit of a year-round event when you work in publishing, I love this pre-season of anticipation and cozy crafting.
Pinterest may be full of homemade Halloween costume ideas and pumpkin-themed projects, but as much as I love a good opportunity to dress up, that’s not my favorite part of the season. And even though I admire all the clever pumpkin carvings, let’s get real; cleaning out a pumpkin feels like reaching your hand inside a giant’s nose, and that’s just gross. No, my pick for an autumn activity is cooking fall food. Pecan pie, crusty breads, hearty potato soups—most of my favorite flavors are harvesty ones.
I’m going to let my Southern show here for a minute. I love cooking in cast iron, and autumn is the perfect time to whip up comfort food classics in this most traditional of cooking implements. I’ve already busted out my purple, cast-iron Dutch oven for big-batch fall soups. My granny’s anointed cornbread skillet is staying busy baking perfectly crusty round loaves. Or sometimes I just fry my cornbread stovetop in pancakes like Granny does when she’s in a hurry. (Full disclosure: not much cornbread actually gets to the table when I make it this way; I just eat it as it comes out of the pan.)
Our sister magazine, Taste of the South, is simply bursting with delicious recipes that you can cook in cast iron, and they’re letting me share one of my favorites here. (Thanks, y’all!)
- 1 cup warm water (about 120°)
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup nonfat dry milk
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup warm water, flour, melted butter, yeast, sugar, salt, dry milk, and zest. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until combined. Place dough in a large bowl. Lightly spray top of dough with nonstick cooking spray, and cover. Let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Roll dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle, approximately ¼ inch thick. In a small bowl, stir together marmalade and ginger. Spread mixture evenly over dough. Beginning on one long side, roll tightly into a log. Place log, seam side down, on a cutting board, and cut into 2-inch rolls.
- Spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Place rolls in pan; cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free place 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Bake until lightly browned, approximately 35 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add confectioners’ sugar. Beat at high speed until fluffy. Spread icing over warm rolls.
Food photography by Sarah Arrington
Photo styling by Malinda Kay Nichols