Everyone in the Alpha Bakers group that baked this week’s recipe early was absolutely raving about these – the soft, sticky caramel sauce, specifically. I was going to post some of the quotes, but Monica beat me to it… so I’ll just quote her quotes:
“I just sampled the sticky caramel. OH MY WORD!!!!”
“OMG, these buns are so good I had to make a second batch.”
”..made them this past weekend. YUMMY. They lasted about an hour”
“The caramel pairs so well with your brioche recipe. Everything is in perfect harmony! That said, I feel like having another one now!”
Looking at Monica’s post again, I also realize just how terrible I am at taking appetizing pictures of food. To be fair, when I’m baking, I’m generally more concerned about taste than presentation, so it’s no wonder my pictures tend to turn out like this:
This is another one of those recipes where, honestly, there isn’t that much active time, but it takes a lot of clock time, because there’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.”
First step is to make the brioche dough. Bread dough at its most basic is flour, yeast, salt, and water. My rye bread is flour, salt, water, rye flour, and sourdough starter. To make a soft sandwich bread, you would typically also add some honey or sugar, some milk (or milk powder), and some butter. Brioche is also a yeast dough, but it’s enriched with eggs, sugar, and a whole lotta butter.
It makes a super sticky dough, which means that it goes into the fridge to chill out for a while to make it a lot easier to handle, and to prevent the butter from separating.
To prepare to shape the rolls, you need to first soak the raisins in rum+boiling water, so that you don’t end up with dried up chewy raisin bits in your lovely soft roll. You also need to toast some pecans, and mix them up with sugar & cinnamon. Have a beaten egg on standby too, to make the sugar mixture stick.
The dough’s supposed to be folded twice during its chill in the fridge, but I ultimately ended up just folding it into a nice square at the end of the chill, just to make it easier to roll out a proper rectangle.
I’ve also learned that it’s a lot easier to roll something into a rectangle if you roll into each corner, rather than trying to just go forward and back or side-to-side. Once it’s rolled out, brush with the egg, then sprinkle on the sugar, nuts, and well-drained raisins.
I keep seeing recipes that suggest using dental floss to cut things like cheesecake or rolled things like this, and I never tried it until today. I’m never using a knife for this job again. I actually have round rolls, not squishy flat misshapen things!
After the rolls proof, the Mason jar in the middle gets filled with boiling water, to provide steam in the oven. Steam makes better bread, for a variety of reasons, but I’m generally too lazy to make it happen, unless given a handy method like this one.
The recipe indicates that the rolls won’t rise vertically – they expand outward instead, which is exactly what happened.
I didn’t get any pictures of making the caramel. In part because I was doing 3 other things in the kitchen at the same time, and in part because once caramel needs attention, it needs it NOW. You dissolve sugar & corn syrup into water, let it boil until it’s “deep amber,” (360 degrees F), then add hot cream, where it promptly bubbles up furiously, then butter, then vanilla. Then, yum.
I took the rolls out when they reached the appropriate internal temperature (about 190F), but I feel like they could have stood to bake a bit longer. I noticed that they kind of collapsed as they cooled, even though I split them apart immediately to let the air circulate. Anyway, to gild the lily here, you top these with caramel sauce, a few toasted pecans, then more caramel sauce.
Jay and I each had one tonight. I handed him a damp paper towel with his plate. 🙂 I like the flavours, but we both kind of thought it’d be nice if the caramel had hardened a bit more. Maybe if I cook the sugar just a touch longer next time? I’m also not sure that the whole pecan halves on top really add anything beyond what the pecan pieces inside do. I ended up pulling them off and eating them separately.
The other feedback from Jay? “I don’t like raisins.” Knowing his opinion on raisins, I also made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, today. As a result, I have a treat that he won’t begrudge me taking to the “team chartering” session for one of my scrum teams at work tomorrow. Lemme see.. 12 caramel rolls, 2 eaten tonight, 6 team members… first come, first served for the remainder. 😉
Oh, and sneak preview – the oatmeal cookies that are on the schedule for March 23rd call for homemade granola. I made mine today, since I often have granola on my yogurt for breakfast, and a double batch looks like this: