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Bake Room Spotlight: Shannon (and a Recipe, too)

Bake Room Spotlight: Shannon (and a Recipe, too)

 

Here at McConnell's, we are obsessive about how we make our ice cream.

We do it the hard way because it's the right way... which means we do it all from scratch.

And that's where Shannon comes in.


Along with our Head Baker/Pastry Chef, Jordan, our small-but-mighty Bake Room team is in the McC's kitchen every day, baking off hundreds of pounds of cookies for flavors like our new Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, cooking down giant kettles full of jam for our Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, or dreaming up baked goods to work into upcoming flavors (spoiler alert... there's a brownie coming).

 

We had a chance to sneak into the Bake Room (there might have been some ulterior motives here) to talk to Shannon about her dreamy-sounding job, and how baking compares to CrossFit. We even managed to talk her into sharing her personal favorite Cinnamon Roll recipe. While she's not currently using it in the Bake Room at McConnell's, we're hoping our relentless nagging might inspire her to work it into the lineup soon. 

 

1.) How and when did your interest in baking begin?

I’ve always been interested in food. But I didn’t become as immersed in baking until I started working at McConnell’s. I grew up cooking and baking with my mom and grandma, as many of us do. And then I got plugged into McConnell’s and became absolutely obsessed with all things baking, cooking, eating, etc. I live to eat and I highly recommend the lifestyle. 


2.) How many cookies would you say you eat on a weekly basis? 

Too many to count. Don’t tell my doctor...

3.) What’s your favorite part about being in the kitchen?

My favorite part about being in the kitchen is that I feel like I fit in right where I am supposed to be. I don’t feel like I am at work most of the time. I get to see a physical representation of my efforts put into action. And at the end of the day, I get to leave knowing that what I made is going to make someone else’s day more exciting. 

4.) What are you currently listening to on your headphones while you bake?

On any given day, you can find me listening to a podcast about food (mostly the Bon Appétit Foodcast), the Fleetwood Mac radio playlist, or the Band CAMINO.

5.) Love. Is it really the secret ingredient? Do you think there’s an element of love involved in your baking?

I wish I could say, but that would be too top secret.

6.) After being in the kitchen all day, do you still feel the desire to bake or cook at home?

Strangely, yes! People ask me this all the time. It sounds obsessive to say it out loud, but I currently have a routine going where I make breakfast for myself and my husband every morning, prep what I can for dinner, leave for work, bake all day, listen to food podcasts while baking, and come home to make dinner. And occasionally I still feel like de-stressing with baking the occasional Tuesday night batch of cookies.

7.) What about the McC’s kitchen do you find unique or special?

The McC’s kitchen has a special place in my heart. There’s not another place that puts so much effort into doing things the way that people would hope that they would be done and we really do make everything from scratch with our own hands. What I think people don’t realize is that the McC’s kitchen does everything so differently from everyone else. When we say that something is “housemade” we actually made it in-house, from scratch, with ingredients that we sourced ourselves, and with a small group of people who really care about the quality of what we make.

8.) Do you ever sneak bites of cookie dough when no one’s looking? 

Only when Sonia, our Quality Assurance Coordinator, isn’t looking. 🤫

9.) For many of us, if we worked in a bakery, our fat pants would turn into our regular pants. Do you have any tips for novice bakers on how to maintain their figures in this industry?

I think if you are in this line of work, it’s easier to stay fit than it would seem. I’m on my feet moving around, lifting 50 lb bags of flour, carrying sheet trays of cookies, chopping hundreds of pounds of inclusions, washing dozens of dishes anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day (and occasionally making it to the gym). It’s a pretty active career choice, which really just balances out all the tasting that happens (mandatory or not). And let’s be honest, I need to have an active job working for an ice cream company; otherwise, I’d be screwed. But if I had to actually give advice, my general rule of thumb is to always eat real food. Or at least attempt to make everything you’re going to eat yourself. If you make cookies instead of buying them, you are going to add only the necessary ingredients, you probably won’t eat as much, and you get the satisfaction of making something yourself. 

10.) Do you have a favorite recipe you could share with us?!

I do! It’s not something you can currently find at McConnell's, but it is a personal recipe that I have tweaked and perfected myself over the years. 

Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 16-20

Ingredients:

Dough:
3/4 cup warm water (90-105 degrees F)
2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt (3 grams) (I like diamond crystal)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/3 cup oil (I use avocado or a buttery olive oil)
4 and 1/2 to 5 cups (576-640 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (1 gram) (optional)

Cinnamon Filling:
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 TBSPs Ground Cinnamon
1/8 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

Frosting:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 and 1/2 cup (190 grams) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Pinch of salt 

Directions:

In a small bowl measure the salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook, add the yeast, warm water, and a pinch of the sugar. Stir together. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast has proofed. In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk, egg, and oil until homogeneous. Once the yeast is bubbly and proofed, add the buttermilk mixture and the rest of the sugar. Do not add the salt. On low to medium speed, add the flour in 1/4 cup at a time to slowly incorporate. Keep mixing until all the flour is added to the bowl and the dough has pulled away from the sides. Knead for 5 minutes.

Take the dough and add it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Keep in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to finish the first rise. (Sometimes, I like to turn my oven on to the lowest setting possible, put the dough in and turn the oven off with the dough inside.)

While the dough is rising, add all the ingredients for the filling into a clean mixing bowl. Beat together on high for 4 minutes. It should be very fluffy. If it looks dry, add more butter.

After the dough has doubled in size, take the bowl and tip the dough out onto a lightly floured counter space. Press the dough out into a loosely flattened out circle. Take the salt and spread it out across the dough. Knead the salt into the dough for 5 minutes to fully incorporate. Let rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into the shape of a long rectangle, with the long side facing you and being at least twice as long as the shorter side.

Take the filling out of the bowl with your hands and spread it in an even layer across the whole surface. Make sure to spread it all the way to the edges. Prepare a 9 x13 pan with some oil and parchment paper. Slowly roll the dough into a log. Using a knife, cut 2-3-inch long pieces and transfer the rolls to the 9x13 pan.

Let the rolls sit, covered with a towel, for 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 325 F and set the pan in the oven while the oven preheats. Set a piece of parchment paper or foil over the top of the rolls for 3/4 of the baking process. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and the centers are baked through when checked out with a cake tester.

While the rolls are in the oven, add all the ingredients for the frosting into a clean mixing bowl. Beat on medium to high speed for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Add frosting to the rolls and serve. (My husband says that the best way to eat them is to put softened butter on top of the roll while it's still warm, then top with frosting and microwave it for 10-15 seconds.)

 

3 comments

Oct 12, 2019 • Posted by Scott Waterman

Finally, we have found a decent selection of McConnell’s products at the ‘new’ Lucky’s here in town. After enjoying some of their wonderful ice creams, we became spoiled and we don’t bother even considering other brands. You definitely get what you pay for in their ice creams. And today, to get your monies worth is a big deal.

Oct 12, 2019 • Posted by Debbie Wetterholm

Love you, McConnells and Shannon! Our new favorite is the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the Triple Chocolate! To die for! Please open a scoop shop in Northern California! We all love you up here and we buy McConnells in any grocery store we can find you! Keep up your wonderful baking! You’re the best! 😊❤️

Oct 10, 2019 • Posted by tom s.

shannon is wonderful.

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