Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brunch Food



I had friends over for a potluck brunch this morning. Earlier in the week the weather got really nice, and it put me in the proper mood (of course today it was cold and rainy). Brunch is one of my favorite meals, mostly because it is an excuse to eat vastly oversugared breakfast foods, along with some fruit, and call it a meal. In keeping with that theme, I decided to make pecan rolls. I followed Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in “Baking From my Home to Yours.” Her recipe, however, calls for a full recipe of Golden Brioche dough to be made, and then only half of the dough to be used. I was having enough people over that I wanted to use the full amount of dough, so I made one regular recipe of Honey Pecan Rolls, and one recipe of Chocolate Almond rolls. I thought both turned out really well. The pecan rolls were sticky and caramely, and the almond rolls were rich and chocolaty (I didn’t make the almond rolls in a caramel glaze). 

I did find that the rolls baked faster than the recipe called for. The recipe also said to knead the dough until it pulls away from the bowl, and after 20 minutes in the mixer, I found this still hadn’t happened. The rolls tasted great anyway though, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I did find that the almond buns got a little burnt on top, because they didn’t have a glaze to sit in. I’m not sure what can be done about that. Fortunately covering them in glaze helps to hide it.

Golden Brioche Dough

Makes 2 loafs

2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons) 
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water 
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons salt 
3 large eggs, at room temperature 
1/4 cup sugar 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

1. Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

2. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

4. Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can make the sticky buns or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)


Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

For the Glaze:

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar 
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces 
1/4 cup honey 
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:

1/4 cup sugar 
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:

1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

1. Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

2.  On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you.

3. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

4. Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this). In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.

5. With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

6. Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

7.  When the buns have almost fully risen center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven. The buns must be immediately unmolded. To do this, place a rimmed cookie sheet lined with a silpat directly over the baking pan, and flip everything over. The buns should fall out of the pan onto the silpat. Be careful, the caramel will be scalding hot! These are best eaten as soon as they have cooled enough.

 Chocolate Almond Buns

For the glaze:

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar 
2 T milk 
½ t vanilla extract 
¼ t almond extract 
Slivered almonds

For the filling

¼ cup granulated sugar 
3 T brown sugar 
¾ blanched almonds 
¾ cup mini chocolate chips 
3 T butter

1. Put the sugars and blanched almonds into a food processor. Pulse until mixture is coarse. Stir in the chocolate chips.

2. On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the almond-chocolate mixture, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you.

3. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can.

4. Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this). With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

5. Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

6. When the buns have almost fully risen center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden. Unmold by placing a rimmed cookie sheet over the top of the baking dish, and then inverting.

7. Mix together the sugar, milk, and extracts until smooth. Drizzle the tops of the buns with glaze, and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

 

1 comment:

JB4TW said...

I'd kill a man for the pecan rolls. Like really.