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Posts Tagged ‘Yeast’

I have more kitchen tools than anybody should ever possibly need, and yet every year when Mister makes my Christmas list for his parents he manages to come up with something else that I’ve been ogling.  This year, among other things (ravioli mold!  Yay!) they got me something that I didn’t even know existed.

I had mentioned to Mister during one of our many discussions on the details of our someday house that I wanted a dedicated baking center with an inset marble counter for rolling out butter doughs.   So imagine my surprise when on Christmas I was handed an extremely heavy box containing this:

A marble pastry board!  My in-laws ROCK!  I didn’t know you could just plop a piece of marble on top of your counter and go to town.  Seems obvious now, but apparently I’d missed that page in the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  Dreams of puff pastry and croissants started dancing through my head.  I’ve made puff pastry before, but the only available place to roll out dough in my kitchen (Just say no to tile counters!) happens to be the cheap laminate right above my dishwasher.  Which means that I can’t wash dishes while my dough is chilling and resting since it’ll make the counter hot.  Very annoying.  But now the problem is solved!  I can put my pastry board on top of the tile on my island, and it provides a wonderfully smooth, cold place to roll delicate buttery layers to my hearts content.

So I ran to my Google reader and searched for “flaky goodness”.  (yes really…these are the kinds of search terms I use when I need inspiration) and the very first result was this delicious looking Spiced Apple Danish Braid from Annie’s Eats. I had starred it when I first read it, and it’s obvious why:  Fruit, cream cheese, flaky layers, beautiful presentation…what’s not to love?

I did make some changes though.  I’ve got a ton of homemade jam hanging around (future posts, I promise) so I wanted to see if I could use that as the filling.  I also wanted to eliminate the multiple glazes, to cut down on the sweetness and work a tad.  And it worked!   I also stretched out the resting/chilling over several days, not really intentionally, but everything seemed to come out just dandy anyway.  This makes the recipe really flexible with timing, even though it has a lot of steps.  Perfect for prepping ahead of time and just assembling in the morning when you have overnight guests or friends coming over for brunch or breakfast.

I don’t have pictures of the actual process – so if you need a visual explanation of how this comes together I highly recommend checking out Annie’s blog.  I’ll be as clear as I can though.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

For the dough:

  • 1.5 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1.5  tsp. yeast (instant or active dry.  See instructions.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup milk (Annie calls for whole.  I only had skim, so I added a splash of cream)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 cup blueberry jam (or any flavor that you like.  Use one with lots of fruity chunks though)

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 4 Tbsp demerara sugar (or turbinado, muscavado, “raw” or decorative sanding sugar.  Anything with nice big crystals)

Directions:
If you are using active dry yeast:  Warm the milk slightly.  (I like to nuke it in my glass measuring cup for ~15 seconds.  Test it like you would a baby’s bottle.  If feels hot, it’s too hot.  You want just warm.)   Mix in a sprinkle of the ¼ c. of sugar and then scatter the yeast over the top.   Let sit for 5 minutes, or until frothy.

If you are using instant yeast, skip the above.

Combine 1¼ cups of the flour in the bowl of your mixer with the (remaining) sugar, and salt, milk+yeast combo (or just milk and yeast separately if using instant) and egg.  Mix with the paddle attachment till just combined, then switch to the dough hook and knead until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 7-8 minutes.  (The dough will be sticky but it should be mostly clearing the sides of the bowl even if it’s still sticking to the bottom.  If not, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.)
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and with floured hands pat it into a square.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Now…this part is totally cheating.  It worked though.
In a clean mixer bowl, combine the chunks of cold butter with one tablespoon of flour.  Toss lightly to combine, and then mix ON LOW with the paddle attachment until the flour is incorporated.  You do not want to whip the butter at all, or let it get very mushy.  Just smash in the flour.  Scrape the butter+flour paste out of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap and using the plastic to help you, form it into a 5” square of even thickness.  Wrap it well and chill for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a 9” square on a well floured and cool work surface.  (i.e. not your counter directly above a running dishwasher).   Place the square of butter (unwrapped) diagonally on the square of dough and wrap the corners of dough into the center to cover the butter.  (like I said…check out Annie’s blog for photo instructions)  Pinch the seams together, and then press your rolling pin into the dough starting in the center and working toward the outside to get everything a little more workable.  Gently roll the dough out into an 11” square, flouring as needed to stop it from sticking.  (all rolling from here on out should be gentle.  This is not pizza dough.  Have a light hand.)

Fold the square of dough into thirds toward the center, like a business letter.  (i.e. fold the top third down over the middle.  Fold the bottom third up over the top.)  Turn the dough 90 degrees, roll it back out and fold again.  This is two “turns”.    Wrap the dough well in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.  Then repeat this process.  (roll out, fold, turn.  Roll out, fold, chill)

This final chilling period should be at least 4 hours, but I left mine for 2 days.  It was fine.  Just wrap it really well so it doesn’t dry out.

When it’s almost done chilling, make the filling.
Combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk in a mixer and beat beat beat till light and fluffy.  Scrape down and beat some more.

On a well floured piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out to a 14” square.   Smear the cream cheese evenly over the center third.  Spread the jam evenly over the cream cheese.  Don’t worry about making it pretty, you won’t see it, just get it on there.

So now you have a square of dough with a long rectangle of naked dough on the left and right sides, and filling in the middle.   With a pizza cutter or a knife cut the naked dough into ~ 3/4” strips diagonally in opposite directions.  The left side should be cut heading down and the to the left, and the right side cut heading down and to the right.  You are essentially cutting a dough fringe for the center filling section.   Does this make any sense?  Just go look at the pictures…

Fold the strips over the center, alternating sides, to achieve the braided look.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot to proof for 30 minutes.  It won’t rise much, but will look a little puffy.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while it’s proofing.

After it’s done proofing, combine an egg with 1 Tbsp of milk and beat well.  Brush the danish gently with the egg-milk wash.  Sprinkle liberally with sugar and transfer to a baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning the sheet halfway through.

Let cool to  room temp and slice to serve.  Mmmm…flaky goodness indeed.

On another note:
Yes – I’ve been MIA.  Sorry!  I have resolved to get back into regular blogging.  You wouldn’t believe the backlog of I’ve got.   There are just  folders and folders of crappy pictures of delicious food to share.   You can’t wait, right?

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I like to get up early on vacation, but I don’t want to actually do anything.  I want to sit with my coffee and/or bloody mary and something to nibble and enjoy the early morning quiet, preferably with my feet in the water or within earshot of the waves.

But, as unmotivated as I am to put forth any effort in the morning, I am also psychologically incapable of feeding my friends and family food that I didn’t make from scratch.  So, no cooking that morning + home-cooked breakfast?  What’s a girl to do?  Answer – make sticky buns!  No really, stick with me here.

As with a lot of yeast breads, the timing of these things is extremely flexible.  You can do all the rises at normal room temp and have a finished product in about 2.5 hours, or you can do all the work ahead of time and delay the actual cooking for days.  Whatever floats your boat.  I like to have everything assembled and in the pan waiting for it’s final proof a couple of days in advance, and then wrap them well and pop them in the freezer until the night before I want to cook them.  That night they hang out in the fridge to thaw and slowly rise, and then come out to the counter to shake off their chill while the oven preheats.   A visit to the hot oven and the next thing you know your fellow vacationers (or your kids/spouse/roommates/neighbors/stray cats and dogs) have fallen out of bed and drifted toward the kitchen, enticed by a heavenly cinnamon sugar scent.

I’ve had this recipe for about 4 years scribbled onto an index card in my recipe file box.  I wish I knew where I got it to cite here, but I haven’t got the foggiest.  I’ve made some changes, but if this looks familiar to somebody give me a shout so I can give the proper credit.

UPDATE:  I found it!  Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Sticky Buns

Dough

  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. milk (I use skim because that’s what I usually have.  whole would be better)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or 1 Tbsp orange zest)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 – 4 1/4 c. all purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter, very soft

Topping

  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (you could probably just sub honey for this)
  • 6 oz nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans – whatever floats your boat) optional

If you are using active dry yeast like me then combine the warm water, 1 Tbsp of the sugar and the yeast in a small dish and let it sit till bubbly.  Once the yeasts are all wide awake and ready for action, combine the yeast mixture with the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, salt and 3 cups of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  (or a big mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and some muscle)  Mix till blended.

Switch to dough hook and mix on low while slowly adding the remaining 1 cup of flour.  Knead 3-5 minutes till smooth, adding the extra 1/4 cup flour if the dough is still sticky.  (it’ll be a little sticky, but it should clean the sides of the bowl and you should be able to touch it without it attempting to catch a ride on your finger)

Shape into a ball and let rise in a buttered bowl till doubled.  (ummm..an hour?  45 minutes?  this really depends on how warm your house is.  Keep half an eye on it, but this isn’t a really delicate procedure so don’t sweat it)

Punch down the now puffy ball and turn out onto a lightly greased board.  (I give my biggest cutting board a spritz of Pam.  It works better than flouring everything)  Allow to rest for 20 minutes, loosely covered with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle roughly 12×18.  It might spring back and argue with you, but just give it a minute and it should relax.  Be gentle and keep coaxing and it’ll eventually lay out nicely.

Combine the filling ingredients and mix well until you have a sugar/cinnamon/butter paste.   Spread the resulting paste over the rectangle of dough, leaving a 1 inch clean margin along one of the long edges.

Roll up the dough tightly, starting at the end opposite the clean edge and then pinch the seam together well.   Stick the roll in the fridge to hang out while you make the topping.

Butter your 9×13 pan and sprinkle the nuts over the bottom if you are using them.  (i usually make 2/3 nuts, 1/3 no nuts to make everybody happy)

Combine all the remaining topping ingredients over medium-low heat till the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.  DO NOT let it turn into caramel.  You just want to dissolve everything.

Pour the sugar goo over the entire pan and make sure it’s spread in an even layer.

Take the rolled dough out of the fridge and carefully cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Use a sharp bread knife and saw carefully without pressing down.

Transfer each of the rolls, cut side up, to the pan.  Lay them on top of the nuts and sugar goo in a single layer.

(This is the point at which I wrap the entire pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.   It’ll keep in there for at least 3-4 days)

Let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge and in the morning pull them out of the fridge to unchill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.   (Or let rise at room temp for….um 1 hour?  I’ve never done it this way, but you want them to grow till they fill the pan)

Bake for 30-35 minutes in the middle of the oven, until the tops of the buns are deep golden brown.

Take out of the ovens and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Place a platter or cookie sheet over the top of the pan and hold it tightly onto the pan (wearing oven mitts) and carefully flip the whole kit n’ caboodle over.  Place it on the counter and carefully lift the pan back off the buns, which should be sitting nicely on the platter or cookie sheet, covered with lovely oozy sugary goodness.  You might need a spatula to get the edge of the pan up at first, but it should come right off with no sticking.

Let the buns rest so as not to burn yourself on molten sugar goo and then dig in!

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