Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food WanderingsApril 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Breads, Yeastspotting | 37 Comments
Tags: Baking with Heritage, Brown Butter, Challah, cinnamon, Food Wanderings, Vanilla Bean, Yeast
A few months ago, Shulie, from the beautiful blog, Food Wanderings, asked me to write a post for her Baking with Heritage series. I couldn’t have been more flattered, not to mention excited, since this would allow me to journey back to my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen, where she taught me to make challah from an old family recipe. This recipe was taught to her by her mother, who in turn learned it from her mother in Russia, who learned it from her mother in Russia. and so on and so forth - a precious family heirloom that is dear to my heart, and to me, the most perfect challah.
I rarely sway from this recipe, but in this case, my creative side overruled my traditional side, so this round, Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah Twist was born.
Before I link you to my post, along with the recipe, a few things I need to touch on, totally unrelated to challah, but I wanted to update you and failed to do so in my last post.
Tags: biscuits, brown sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon biscuits, cinnamon goo, Cream Cheese Frosting, cream cheese glaze, scones, tall and fluffy buttermilk biscuits
Please don’t hate me. I need to postpone Bad Boy Love Part Two for a few days. You see, some things came up that couldn’t be avoided, which is also why I’m a day late for the Daring Bakers Challenge. These ‘things’ rendered me so off kilter, I couldn’t finish writing the post – I could not get back into the moment. Before I knew it, I had written a novel about the below cinnamon goo biscuits, and I need a whole post devoted solely to Part Two. Keep checking back, as I promise Part Two will be here this coming week – along with something pretty tasty! I need to STOP promising certain ’dates’ for posts. ‘Coming Soon or late‘ should be my catch phrase.
I don’t flip over scones. I also don’t flip over biscuits. Unless they’re super flaky, or light and fluffy, I usually take a pass. They’re usually too dry, crumbly and pasty for me. I’m not a tea drinker - nor am I a milk dipper, so when I eat a scone or biscuit, I feel like someone painted my tongue with kindergarten paste as I try to swallow it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them.
I’ve had some really great biscuits in Texas and down south (east coast), especially biscuits smothered in amazing gravies, or slathered with my friend’s late step grandmother’s amazing pear preserves, in Texas (Oh, how I wish I had the recipe for HER pear preserves). I simply don’t crave them, and would rather have a warm slice or hunk of home-baked savory or sweet bread in its place.
As for scones (scones – biscuits, same thing really, though I always see scones as the biscuit dough you add dried fruit and/or nuts to and cut into triangles), unless they’re loaded with gooey cheese, or anything that detracts from the crumbly, pasty feel, I usually pass, unless I have a ‘bready‘ carb craving and a scone is pretty much my only choice.
All in all, it’s a texture thing, not a flavor thing.
A few years ago I actually found a biscuit recipe I loved. They’re called Tall and Fluffy biscuits, and they were created by the crazy, obsessive testers at Cook’s Illustrated. I mean ‘crazy and obsessive’ in a good way, because they will futz with a recipe dozens of times, or more, to get it perfect. I think I can say these are probably the most perfect biscuits I’ve ever had, as far as texture goes. Light and fluffy, no pasty palate feel, and the best part..super easy, no cutting involved, so no biscuit scraps that don’t rise as well as the first ones cut.
This recipe gives you a thick, wet dough that you scoop with a 1/4 cup measure for each biscuit (like a drop biscuit), then drop into flour and roll lightly, so you can round them up a bit without a mess, before placing each one in a 9-inch round cake pan. Brushed with butter and baked..I can’t even begin to tell you how great they are. I could easily eat a pan of these all.by.myself. – and they don’t need loads of butter or amazing pear preserves.
Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
So, my friend Audax is hosting this month, and I really wanted to use the exact recipe he came up with/provided since 1) They look so high and fluffy, and 2) He linked a great video of his sister making them, which was fun to watch. BUT, I couldn’t risk a batch of scones sitting around until they turned to rocks, then getting chucked in the trash after reaching the point of stale where they could be used as hockey pucks.
Fortunately, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe is similar to his recipe plus another where the scones are baked together touching, in a circle, called a ’touch of grace’, The only difference is, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe uses much more liquid and baking powder. He told me I could use the Cook’s Illustrated recipe because it was so similar. Thank you, Aud!
As you can tell by the title, I put a twist on them. I had many requests for a gooey cinnamon roll like biscuit. I’ve seen lots of recipes for cinnamon roll scones and biscuits, but they mostly incorporate just cinnamon and sugar, which is delicious, but I wanted GOO, just like the GOO in the giant cinnamon rolls you get at the malls – called CINNA plus rhymes with Tron. I wanted these biscuits to have swirls or ribbons of inner goo like a fresh out of the oven baked CINNATRON bun. I know they use dark brown sugar, butter and a special cinnamon hand ground just for them by the Zukicacalukichang tribes of the Vietnamese jungles, using rocks. Umm, great..but I think Cassia or Ceylon will do, thank you.
First I tried folding the cinnamon goo lightly into the batter with the buttermilk, so I wouldn’t overwork it. The goo didn’t swirl or ribbon, just blended in fully, which was surprising since it was so thick. They tasted great, but I wanted strips of goo, like CINNATRON buns.
Second attempt – once the dough balls were nestled in their comfy circle, I poked three to four holes, with the floured end of a wooden spoon, into each ball of dough, then piped the goo into the holes using a snipped ziplock bag. It worked – BUT, it would have worked a lot better had I used a squeeze bottle or bag with a small, plain pastry tip. I would have been able to get the goo in deeper, and I wouldn’t have ended up with cinnamon goo blotches all over the tops of the biscuits, as you see in the above collage. This dough is way too soft for a snipped ziplock to excavate and fill. I didn’t go for a third try – didn’t need to – I know for sure a squeeze bottle or pastry tip will work great.
I know I say this all the time – but these are fantastic. A gooey cinnamon roll in an easy to make pull apart biscuit. You can also use the same technique on any firm dough biscuit of your choice. Poke holes, fill with cinnamon goo..brush with melted butter. sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, bake and drizzle or glob with cream cheese frosting glaze. Mine may not be pretty, due to the photos being taken in testing mode and crap lighting, but I’m sure yours will, and they’re SO (Yes, I’m going to use the word that’s been blackballed in the food blogosphere) DELICIOUS!
Since you have to subscribe to see the recipe for the biscuits at Cook’s Illustrated, an online search showed me that frankly, people who do subscribe, don’t give a damn. The recipe is all over the place!
Cinnamon Goo Biscuits with Cream Cheese Frosting Glaze
Makes 9 biscuits
Cinnamon Goo Filling
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (taste before adding more)
3 tablespoons melted butter
* To make cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon. Store in a clean, airtight jar.
Cream Cheese Frosting Glaze
Recipe from My Baking Addiction, with my small revisions
4 ounces cream cheese (half a package), softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-5 tablespoons of milk, depending on how thick or thin you want it.
1. Make Cinnamon Goo. Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan, Stir in the sugars and cook until dissolved. It will separate and look ruined, but don’t worry, take off the heat and stir in the heavy cream until smooth. Stir in cinnamon. This will make more than you need for one pan IF you don’t use a snipped ziplock bag (Again, look at it all over the tops of the biscuits in the collage - if done properly, you could probably make another pan of biscuits with whatever is left over). Pour into a squeeze bottle or disposable plastic pastry bag with a small, plain tip inserted. You can also insert the pastry tip into a snipped ziplock bag. Set aside. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
2. Dip the end of a wooden spoon in flour (about 1/8 to 1/4-inch diameter). Poke three to four holes, as deep as you can without hitting the bottom, in each ball of dough. Keep cleaning off and flouring the wooden spoon when it starts to stick in the balls of dough, until all dough balls are poked.
3. Pipe or squeeze cinnamon goo into each hole, almost to the top. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 15 -20 minutes, or fridge for about a half hour.
4. Remove from freezer or fridge, and remove plastic wrap. Brush with biscuits with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake at 500 degrees F for 5 minutes. Turn down oven to 450 degrees F and bake for another 15 minutes, until well-risen and golden brown.
5. While biscuits are baking, make cream cheese frosting glaze. Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth – add vanilla extract and salt. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar until uniform, then drizzle in the milk until you reach your desired consistency. I kept mine thick – only used a little over 2 tablespoons.
6. Remove biscuits from oven, and let cool about 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Turn pan over so the connected biscuits fall onto the rack. Pull apart and turn them over – let cool a bit.
7. Drizzle or glob (I did both) cream cheese glaze frosting over the warm biscuits. Sprinkle glaze with a bit of cinnamon sugar, if desired. Enjoy them while they last!
If you have some time on your hands, please check out my fellow Daring Baker’s scones and/or biscuits by clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE. To get Audax’s fantastic, fool-proof recipe for Aussie scones (aka US biscuits), plus a wealth of information about the ingredients, methods etc..click HERE.
Finally, I want to wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend Jamie from Life’s a Feast! Hop on over to her beautiful and ‘delicious’ (Ooops, I used the D word again!) blog to wish her a Happy Birthday too!