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Archive for May, 2012

These have to be the best sticky buns I’ve ever eaten. They have all of what I love about sticky buns – the gooey caramel topping, the unwinding spiral of sweet dough, crunchy on the outside, then moist and chewy on the inside, revealing the cinnamon filling. And none of what I dislike about some sticky buns – their heaviness and usually disappointing driness. The recipe is from Baking With Julia, and features a brioche dough base, rich with butter and eggs, then “laminated” with more butter, resulting in a flaky layered pastry, surprisingly light. I was baking it as part of a Tuesdays With Dorie project. The recipe was contributed by Nancy Silverton who is now co-owner of several Los Angeles restaurants.

Making these buns is at least a two day endeavor, three if you want to bake them first thing in the morning. There are many steps interlaced with periods of chilling and rising. I made them over two days, assembling the dough on the first day and leaving it to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The dough is silky and elastic, the result of lengthy kneading in the stand mixer with the dough hook.

On day two, I rolled out the dough, added more butter, folded, rolled again, and refolded before chilling briefly. Then the dough was rolled out again, brushed with beaten egg, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar and nuts, and rolled into a log, followed by another chilling in the freezer to firm up the logs for cutting. At this point, I left one of the logs in the freezer to bake another day.

While the log was chilling, I prepared the topping of butter and brown sugar in the baking pan. The recipe calls for using a nine inch round cake pan and cutting the log into seven slices. I used an eight inch square pan and nine slices, so I rolled the dough into a wider rectangle, making a longer log. Three pecans are pressed into the bottom of each slice before placing it into the pan. The buns are then left to rise. This rising was slow in getting started, since the buns had started out quite cold from the freezer.

While baking, the kitchen was redolent with the scent of yeast and cinnamon. I was surprised by the lightness of the pan when I removed it from the oven and loved the spiral pattern of the buns. I immediately inverted the sticky buns onto a plate, and wound up with a lot of melted butter on my countertop. I expected the butter and brown sugar of the topping to melt and blend together more for a thicker sticky caramel topping, but liked the lighter, more subtle caramel coating. With the next batch, I’ll use less butter and see what happens.

One of the best things about eating sticky buns is pulling apart the layers, and these did not disappoint.

The recipe is included in the blogs of two Tuesdays With Dorie participants, Lynn of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, Dog, Cats (who has the good idea of leaving the prepared pan of buns to rise in the refrigerator overnight), and Nicole of Cookies on Friday.

A couple of tips:

* I added about 3 Tbsp. additional flour to the dough to make it cohesive.

* My KitchenAid mixer got very hot during the kneading. I had to hold it down to keep the dough hook from bouncing out of the bowl, and it became almost too hot to hold my hand on during the last couple of minutes.

* While lovely to handle, the dough was very elastic, so rolling to a precise size was difficult.

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Simple as can be, this lemon loaf cake from Baking With Julia was the Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for April 17. I was travelling, had guests, and was travelling again, so I didn’t get to baking until late in April. It tastes like a pound cake, but has considerably less butter than a traditional pound cake. It slices beautifully…you can easily cut off a sliver of cake. I thought the lemon flavor was more pronounced the next day. For the recipe, visit the blog of Truc of Treats or Michelle of The Beauty of Life.

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I think of shortbread as a crunchy, crumbly, buttery cookie, but this recipe for Hungarian Shortbread produces a moist, chewy, buttery pastry, filled with sweet-tart rhubarb filling. Lately, I’ve been making recipes from Baking With Julia, a Tuesdays With Dorie project. This week’s recipe was the Hungarian Shortbread and was contributed by Gale Gand, who you can read about here. I made half of the recipe and used an 8″ square baking pan.

Since Baking With Julia was published in 1996, I’m interested in knowing what the contributing chefs are doing now. Gale Gand includes a recipe for Austrian Raspberry Shortbread on her website that is identical to the Hungarian Shortbread, except that it calls for raspberry jam instead of the homemade rhubarb jam. It also suggests a variation substituting a cup of cocoa for a cup of the flour to make a chocolate raspberry version. Yum.

The rhubarb jam is made by simmering cut-up rhubarb with a little sugar, water, and a vanilla bean. A while ago I bought some “vanilla powder” which I used instead of the whole bean, and it worked out well. Rhubarb is funny, the odd fibrous stalks that disintegrate when cooked into a primordial ooze.

 

The shortbread is simple to make in a stand mixer, whipping softened butter, mixing in sugar and egg yolks, then the flour/baking powder/salt mixture. The dough is then shaped into two balls and frozen for thirty minutes.

To assemble the shortbread, one frozen dough ball is grated into the baking pan, followed by a layer of the rhubarb jam, and finished with a final layer of grated frozen dough. Freezing and grating the dough is a clever way of distributing the shortbread dough without compressing it, and was especially helpful for the top layer covering the jam. The assembled pastry looks like a casserole with a grated cheese topping:

After baking, the shortbread is dusted with powdered sugar and allowed to cool before cutting and eating. I loved this shortbread – so buttery and simple, but made interesting with the layer of rhubarb jam, delicious with a cup of tea. You can find the recipe on the blogs of Lynette of 1 Small Kitchen and Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler….

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