Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

February 27, 2010

Since I tried my hands on making my own bread; I have gotten to be really addicted to trying out new recipes. The smell of the yeast and flour being mixed together  into sticky dough and then the aroma of it baking in the oven is fantastic.  I promised Red a while back that I would  try to make him homemade sticky buns for breakfast, so I thought that this recipe would be a great one to try on the weekends.

And I was right! Oh my goodness… the rolls were so soft and buttery, covered in goey caramel and pecan goodness. Definitely not for the faint of heart. I actually made half of the brioche dough on a Friday night, let it sit for a couple of hours and left it in the refrigerator overnight. Half of the brioche dough makes doubled the recipe for the sticky pecan caramel rolls.  On Saturday morning, I only had to let it rise for another hour or so, and we could enjoy it for breakfast without having to wait too long. Definitely plan for at least 3 hours and 45 minutes before  you plan to serve it because it needs to sit and then bake for an hour in the oven.

Eventhough it does take a little time to put together, don’t let that intimidate you. This recipe is definitely a MUST try. I can assure you that it is worth the time and the wait. This will be an impressive dish to serve as breakfast or brunch for company or family gathering.  I asked Red how he liked these rolls, and his answer was, “Excellent! One of the best caramel rolls I have ever had!” I think this was a keeper for us. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Happy eating.

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Brioche Dough
(This recipe makes 4 1-lb loaves, can be doubled or halved)

Brioche Ingredients
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (~ 1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
7-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg Wash (1 egg beaten w/ 1 tbsp of water)

Brioche Directions
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl.

Mix the flour using a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook. The dough will be loose but will be firm when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.

Cover and allow to rest a room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approx 2 hrs.

The Caramel Topping
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves

The Filling
4 tbsp salter butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
Pinch of ground black pepper

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls Ingredients
Cream together the butter, salt and brown sugar.  Spread ovenly over the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan using a spatula. Scatter the pecans over the butter-sugar mixture and set aside.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 to 1-1/2 lb dough piece (this is about a quarter of what the recipe for the brioche dough above makes). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent in from sicking to work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry.

Cream together the butter, sugar and spice for the filling. Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. If the dough is too soft to cut, let it chill for 20 min to firm up.

With very sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 8-equal pieces and arrange over the pecans in the pan, with the “swirled” edge facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise 1 hr (40 mins if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 350 deg F. If you are not using a stone in the oven, 5 min is adequate.

Bake about 40 min or until golden brown and well set in the center. While still hot, run a knife around the inside of the pan to relase the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. If you let them set too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.

Yield: 8 large caramel rolls

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Homemade Pizza

February 20, 2010

Red and I love pizzas. And it’s an unconditional love; because we love them all… the crispy thin one, a deep-dish style, the simple margherita, or the fancy carbonara style. We can have this almost every day of the week and seek to have them when we travel (even to places where it’s unlikely to have a great pizza, like Lombok, Indonesia!). A couple of my favorites are the gorgeous coal-roasted white pizzas at Lombardi’s in NYC and the house special at Pizzaria Baffetto in Rome. I figured, it is time for me to try my hands on making my own pizza dough, and what a perfect time to make them than on a cold winter day in February!

This dough needs to rest probably a little bit over an hour total, so make sure that you start prepping a couple of hours before you want to serve it. I made this on a Saturday afternoon for our dinner that evening; and saved the second dough for Sunday’s supper. I made a Hawaiian pizza for the first one, adding sliced ham, cooked bacon and pineapple.   Delicious! Be aware though, this is a very basic dough. Next time, I may try to find different add-ons to make this dough a bit more flavorful… maybe with drizzle of wine? More salt? Or honey?

Adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
Coarse-grain cornmeal, for dusting
3 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
Pizza sauce and topping of your choice

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 500 degrees, with a 16-inch diameter pizza stone placed on lowest shelf position, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Pour warm water into a small bowl. Add sugar, and sprinkle in yeast. Using a fork, stir the mixture until yeast is dissolved and water has turned a tan color. Let yeast stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a food processor, use blade to combine the 2 3/4 cups flour and salt, and pulse three to four times. Add yeast mixture and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until the dough comes together, adding more flour as needed until dough is smooth, not tacky, when squeezed. Transfer to clean surface; knead four or five turns into a ball.
  3. Brush the inside of a medium bowl with olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl, smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, and press your fist into the center of the dough to punch it down. Fold the dough back onto itself four or five times. Turn dough over, folded-side down, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the warm spot to rise again until the dough has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  4. Punch down the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, divide the dough in half, and knead each half four or five turns into a ball. Place one of the dough balls back in the oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Lightly flour a clean surface, place the remaining dough ball on top, pat into a flattened circle, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rest 5 minutes. Using your fingers, begin to flatten and push the dough evenly out from the center until it measures about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Do not press the dough all the way to the edges. Leave a slightly raised border, about a half-inch wide, around entire circumference of pizza dough.
  5. Sprinkle cornmeal all over the surface of a pizza peel, and set aside. Lift the dough off the surface, and center it on top of your fists. Hold your fists about 1 to 2 inches apart. Begin to rotate and stretch the dough, moving your fists until they are 6 to 8 inches apart and the dough is several inches larger. Then place your fists under the inside of the outer edge, and continue to stretch the dough a little at a time until it reaches about 12 inches in diameter. The dough will drape down over your forearms. At this stage, it is important to keep your fists along the inside of the outer edge and watch that the dough does not get too thin or tear in the center. At the same time, make sure to maintain the slightly raised border on the edges. The dough is surprisingly resilient and will not tear if this step is done carefully and slowly.
  6. Arrange the pizza dough into a circle on top of the cornmeal-dusted peel. Leaving the raised edge uncovered, pour 9 tablespoons of the pizza sauce onto the dough. Using the back of a tablespoon, evenly spread the sauce leaving a half-inch border of dough uncovered.  Arrange your favorite topping on top.
  7. Lift the pizza peel and, using a slight jerking motion, slide the pizza about one inch back and forth on the peel to loosen it. Slightly tilt the peel, and place the front tip of peel on the back side of the stone. Slide the pizza off the peel, centering it on the stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown and crisp on the edges and the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes, turning the pizza halfway through baking. While first pizza is baking, shape and assemble a second pizza using remaining dough. Using tongs, lift the edge of the first pizza, and slide the peel all the way under to remove it from the oven. Using a pizza wheel, slice the pizza into eight pieces, and serve immediately.

Yield: 2 (12-inch) pizza


MSC: S’mores Cupcakes

February 15, 2010

Mary Ann from Meet Me in the Kitchen chose S’more Cupcakes on pages 150-151. The recipe called for graham flour–which I have never heard of before. After googling for its substitution; I went ahead and used an equal amount of wheat flour, which I happened to have in the house. I wouldn’t have known that there was any wheat flour in the cupcakes; they tasted delicious.  My husband and I are not sure whether these cupcakes taste quiet like s’mores; but we still liked the combination of cinnamony cupcake, topped with melted chocolate and marshmallow.

I had a little bit of challenge with having the marshmallow peaks like Martha did on the book. Mine wasn’t coming up as high as hers. And pssst… I didn’t really have a kitchen torch, so the presentation wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked it. It was still delicious! Don’t forget to check out other members’ creation here.


Cookie Dough Truffles

February 11, 2010

I saw this recipe a couple of months ago, and knew right away that I had to make them! Who could resist the old-fashioned flavor of cookie dough, dipped in chocolate? What can potentially go wrong with that combination? Nothing! What makes this perfect is that it uses condensed milk instead of raw egg yolks, therefore, it is truly convenient. Another bonus, this recipes makes whopping 5-1/2 dozens of truffles–and you will need that many since they will go fast! Since I wasn’t here during the holiday, I decided to whip them up now.  I think they will be wonderful for Valentine’s Day if you want to bake up something special this weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you want to try other truffle recipes, check out:
Chocolate truffles
Oreo Truffles

Adapted from Taste of Home Holidays-Christmas edition

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 lbs semisweet candy coating, chopped

Directions

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually, add the flour, alternatively with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Shape into 1-inch balls; place on waxed-paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hrs until firm.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating, allowing excess to drip off; place on waxed-paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 5-1/2 dozens.


Blueberry Crumb Cake

February 6, 2010

I have been wanting to make this cake for over a year!  Every time I look for something delicious to have for breakfast or a snack–I always think of this recipe, but then end up making something else. Finally, I bought a huge pack of blueberries; and decided that I would try this recipe. The only thing that I have to say for this recipe is that I don’t know why it took me this long to try this cake. My girl Ina, has proven to me one more time–that her recipe is a winner. This cake has that velvety custard cake on the base, with just enough hint of sweetness and fruity-flavor from the blueberry; topped with wonderful crunchy cinnamon-y flavor topping. It is great in the morning for breakfast or afternoon snacks in the afternoon. Happy eating!

Other recipes using blueberry that are equally delicious:
Blueberry Pie
Lemon Glazed Blueberry Scones
Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ingredients

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
Stir in the melted butter and then the flour.
Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light.
Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife.
With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.