Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sticky pecan-cinnamon buns

 Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking (p51), and Thus Bakes Zarathustra’s The awkward girl who bakes  (I was initially drawn to her blogpost title, why could that be?)

 Put 2 sachets yeast and 1/3 cup each of bathwater-temperature milk and water (I put both together in a Pyrex jug and zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds) in the mixer bowl and stir by hand to dissolve the yeast. Add 600g plain flour and 2 teaspoons salt, and give it the dough hook on medium-low for a minute or so, just until it’s a dry, shaggy mass. 
 Scrape down the bowl, add 3 eggs and ¼ cup sugar and mix on medium until the dough forms a ball, about 3 minutes. Add 340g room-temperature butter in chunks, waiting until each looks to be incorporated into the yellow sticky mass before adding the next. By now it’s a soft oozy dough. 
 Set the mixer on medium-high and leave it for about ten minutes, by which time the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl, and, in my case, creeping above the hook to take over the motor.
 Cover with Gladwrap and leave somewhere warm to double in size, which could take 40 minutes but was more like two hours in my freezing house. That’s okay – plenty of time to feel the warm brioche dough, which is up there with kitten-belly fur in tactile delight.

Punch the dough down in the bowl, recover with Gladwrap and refrigerate, punching it down again every half hour or so until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave in the fridge overnight.

Separate the dough into two equal halves, and only use one half – the other can be frozen, or there’s nothing like a little brioche to whip out, for which Dorie originally wrote this recipe. I put the full recipe here as it’s tricky to halve 3 eggs, but you can try to make just the half-quantity if brioche dough in the freezer doesn’t float your boat.
 For the filling, mix 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg in a bowl. Mash 40g room-temperature butter with a fork to spreadableness.

Find a 9"x13" baking dish and butter it generously. I could only find a smaller one, which meant the scrolls were a bit crowded and the central ones weren’t completely cooked through.

In a heavy saucepan, bring 200g brown sugar, 120g butter and ¼ cup golden syrup to the boil over a medium heat, stirring frequently. When the sugar has dissolved, stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups pecans all over the sticky, oozy glaze.
Flour your dedicated Italian marble work surface, or if by some oversight you lack one, clear a modicum of space on your cramped benchtop. Roll the dough into a 40cm square, spread with a good chunk of just-softened butter, and sprinkle over the sugar mix. 
Roll the dough up tightly and slice into about 15* 3cm lengths. Fit the scrolls cut-side-down into the baking dish atop the pecans, leaving a little more space between them than I did here.
 Cover with baking paper and leave in a warm place until the buns have doubled to puffy softness.**
 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C. Remove the baking paper and bake the buns for about 30 minutes, until they’re puffed and golden and bubbling with glaze. 
 Allow about five minutes for them to set a bit before clasping a serving platter over the baking dish and inverting – do it fast to minimise run-off. The glaze will still be verging on molten, so be careful. Eat while warm, obvs. Terribly rich and terrifyingly good.

 * Since I failed to find a dish large enough, and because I hoped to feed only three people, common sense might have whispered to me that perhaps I should bake a half-quantity. I clearly lack common sense, because we had way too many. Two buns are all that can be effortfully eaten and even those left me feeling beyond replete and verging on ill. The leftover portion, Dorie says, can be tightly gladwrapped and frozen, then thawed overnight and taken from there.

**At this point, I gladwrapped the dish and refrigerated it for the next morning, reasoning I could get up and leave it to rise on the heater and then bake it. But it needed at least two hours and a move to a just-turned-off oven to even think about rising again, much as The Guitar Teacher and Alida Irwin visiting from the country and I glowered at it hungrily. I do not think these are the best choice for breakfast unless you’re willing to get up at an ungodly hour, which was not the case this morning – Dorie recommends almost two hours for them to rise from rolling-out stage as it is. But I failed to read that last bit after Alida Irwin and I staggered home from a Friday night on the tiles. As it was, TGT and I didn’t eat these until midday, long after Alida Irwin had given up on my hostessing and left.