Merrily Baking at Merridee’s: The Girl with the Clabber Girl Tattoo
The Clabber Girl has been on baking powder cans since the turn of the 19th century. Aside from a slight makeover in 1923, the girl has remained the same for decades. The Clabber Girl has become an iconic figure in pop culture and can be seen in many different media. However, there is only one person we know of who has gone so far as to permanently show her baking powder pride by donning the Clabber Girl on her skin. I was lucky enough to meet Amy McGee in person at the Clabber Girl Museum and Bake Shop earlier this month.
What inspired Amy to get her Clabber Girl tattoo? She’s the operations manager at Merridee’s Breadbasket in Franklin, Tennessee and loves iconic, vintage baking brands. Merridee’s was started by Merridee McCray, who began by baking out of her home kitchen. Merridee grew up on a family farm in Minnesota and learned how to bake from her mother and grandmother, who was originally from Sweden. As word spread about Merridee’s baking abilities, she opened a shop up in downtown Franklin, where it is still located today. You won’t find pre-made baking mixes at Merridee’s; everything is still made from scratch including pies, brownies, cookies and of course, breads. “Even the croissant dough is made from scratch,” Amy tells me.
Like many avid bakers, Amy started baking in her own kitchen as a child. “I started learning how to bake by testing out different recipes. I’d say ‘today, I want to make the best coffeecake!’ and would work on the recipe for days until I got it just the way I liked best,” Amy explains. She continues to produce the best baked goods that uphold Merridee’s long tradition of baking excellence. Working alongside of Amy is Brittany Carter, who also came to visit us in Terre Haute, Indiana. Carter showed us a number of fun projects she’s worked on while at Merridee’s. One of the most unique requests was a wedding cake made completely from cinnamon rolls.
The cinnamon roll cake is made from an egg bread dough recipe that Merridee herself created. Patrons of Merridee’s have long enjoyed fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and one couple wanted to take their love affair with these classic rolls to the next level. Read on to find out how to make your own cinnamon roll wedding cake!
Cinnamon Roll Wedding Cake
1/3 c. dry milk
2 1/4 c. lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. pumpkin
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp. active dry yeast
7 1/2 – 8 c. unbleached bread flour
Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Dissolve dry milk in lukewarm water. Add butter, honey, salt, pumpkin and eggs. Mix well. Add yeast and stir well. Mix in 5 cups of the flour. Beat well until dough is smooth. Then add 2 1/2 – 3 cups more flour to make a stiff but pliable dough. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Place in greased, covered bowl and let rise until dough doubles. Turn out the dough onto lightly floured surface and divide into 14 oz. balls. Cover with a dough cloth, and let rest for a few minutes.
Combine cinnamon and sugar for filling. Roll out one dough ball into a rectangle that measures about 7×9-inches. Spread with an even layer of butter leaving 1-inch with no butter along one 9-inch edge. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll up lengthwise to end at un-buttered side. Pinch seam together securely. Slice into 8-12 pieces. Put in 8-inch round pan about a 1/2 inch apart. Use parchment paper to line the outside of the rolls so they don’t expand over the pan’s edge. This will help the rolls keep their shape and make the “cake” stack easier.
Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar and let rise until double.
Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 10-15 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center roll. Once the toothpick comes out dry, the rolls are ready to come out.
Whisk together the milk and vanilla for the glaze. Whisk in powdered sugar gradually until it is the right consistency.
After the “cakes” have cooled, flip them out of the pans, place the bottom tier on a cake board and start applying the icing. Carter says, “To achieve the desired dripped look we used a piping bag and piped small amounts of the icing along the edge of the rolls so that it would ooze down the cake. We repeated the process on the final two tiers.”