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, Holiday, 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, although I always see scones as the biscuit’s sweet counterpart), unless they’re loaded with gooey cheese or anything that detracts from the crumbly, pasty feel, I refrain, 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 absolutely 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, 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 a point of stale, for which 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 and leaves.
Umm, great..but I think Cassia or Ceylon will do, thank you very much.
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 and didn’t need to, because 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!
Cream Cheese Glaze adapted from My Baking Addiction
- One 9-inch pan Cook's Illustrated Tall and Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, up to the part before they're brushed with melted butter and baked
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ 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
- cinnamon sugar*
- 4 ounces cream cheese (half a package), softened
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2-5 tablespoons of milk, depending on how thick or thin you want it.
- Prepare Biscuits from Cook's Illustrated, right up to the part before you brush with butter and bake.
- 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, just 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.
- Dip the end of a wooden spoon in flour (about ⅛ to ¼-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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Tags: baking, Brioche, Chocolate, Chocolate Sticky Buns, cinnamon, Orange, Orange Juice, Orange Sticky Buns, Orange Supremes, Orange Zest, Pecans, Recipe, Sticky Buns
I made these sticky buns over a week ago, the photos processed, resized and ready to go, but I couldn’t write the post to go with it. There’s been a lot going on in my life – so with all the drawn blanks, I let it sit until I could write something that wasn’t boring or viscous. I finally decided to write about my first ‘true’ love. We all have one of those, right? It’s loaded with corn and cheese, but a great memory. Don’t worry, I will get to these fabulous, gooey sticky ‘bad boy’ buns.
When I was in High School, I had a thing for bad boys. Not necessarily boys who did bad things, but boys who probably weren’t going to become doctors or lawyers or even attend college, for that matter. Not dumb, just tough, hard-working, strong boys with a dash of danger – the type that scared your parents just a little bit god forbid you marry one. Bad boys like a young Matt Dillon, or Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life – you get the gist.
I lived in a pretty affluent town. Most of the residents had loads of money, old and new, as did the residents of the other town that used our high school because they didn’t have a high school – probably because it was even more affluent than our town and didn’t want some old high school decreasing the palatial estate property values.
Most of the guys were clean-cut and super-duper spoiled. Even the ones who looked like bad boys, were wealthier than the clean-cut guys, and the Phish/Deadhead stoners were even wealthier than the rich guys who looked like bad boys. I’m not saying there weren’t some great guys in the bunch, because there were, but I just wasn’t feeling it on a crushy, puppy love level.
I guess there were just too many of them, and after a while any attraction I had poofed as I grew up. It was the same old, same old – stepford boys who were gifted brand new porsches and corvettes the minute they got their learner’s permit – not driver’s license, learner’s permit! Some celeb’s kids were dropped off in limos. Really vulgar displays of wealth at times.
I was the opposite of a gold digger. The tough, brooding, blue-collar cuties with natural grit and sexy, deep voices, made me weak in the knees. The type of guy who would always defend your honor and not hide under a table when a fight broke out at a party (Yes, one of the rich boys I knew did just that). Ladies, have we all not had at least one moment like THIS, in some form, sans the dyslexic talk?
Turn this upside down……..
Well, I finally found my ultimate bad boy, or rather, he found me. It was the summer of my 15th (almost 16th) year of life, at the Jersey Shore, before the show of the same name completely bastardized it and turned it into something that it was the polar opposite of when I was a teen.
Back then, it was all about the beach, the boardwalk, parties, and rock/pop music- not the tanning salons (they’ve got the beach as their front or backyard, for chrissake) and discos you see on TV. There were no Snookis in my Seaside. In fact, the only time I saw guidos and guidettes was on Sundays when they would drive down in troves and swarm the beach and boardwalk like fruit flies to a rotting apple. A mass of muscles, suntan oil, and strong cologne. Lasers of sun reflected off their gold chains, blinding us as they sauntered down the boardwalk in their tight tank tops showing off their bulging biceps, making all kinds of lewd remarks and gestures to women. Eating an ice cream cone was grounds for;
“Oh man, I wish I wazzat ice cream cone…come mere, baby…tawk ta me!”
It was only one or two days a week, and everyone has a right to enjoy the shore, so no big deal. Since the TV show started airing, Seaside Heights is now a sticky fly trap for them.
So, I finally met my ‘dream guy’.
…….and you get this
It was an uncharacteristically chilly night for August, so I was wearing an over-sized jean jacket over a thin, lacy white mini skirt and top (I looked “like a doily”, to quote Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites), my arms crossed tight, wrapping the too long sleeves around myself like a straitjacket. My best friend and I were on the Casino Pier watching, with shock and awe, some hunky guy climb to the top of a pirate ship ride to fix it (blue-collar boys didn’t have the luxury of free summer vacations like we did – they had to work to play). She was scoping him out big time, hoping he would notice her once he was finished. Suddenly, she nudged me hard in the ribs and said loudly so I could hear her over the music, right into the deepest part of my ear canal, which made me jump;
“That really hot guy that works on the bumper cars is trying to get your attention..OMG, Lisa..LOOK!”
I had seen this guy a few nights before and nearly melted into a puddle of goo, but there were too many girls standing around trying to get his attention, and frankly, I was way too young, insecure and shy to even consider joining the fray of adoration.
I turned my head to look, thinking she was probably messing with me. There was no way a guy that hot would want my attention, no way. Lo and behold, he was signing to me by rubbing his arms and mouthing “Are you cold?”. I turned around to make sure this wasn’t directed at someone else because I still could not believe, on any realm, that this was meant for me. When I saw no one, my stomach fluttered. I turned back, shyly nodding ‘Yes’. He gave me a huge smile, then shouted out..
“Come over here, it’s warmer!”
I don’t even remember how I got there. I couldn’t feel my feet, much less my legs, but soon I was standing before him. Ironically, ‘Walking on the Moon’ by the Police was the song that was playing on the classic rock station he had blasting for the ride. I was most certainly walking on the moon, not to mention over it. I’d never felt this in my entire, albeit brief, life. Sure, I’d dated and had crushes, but no one had ever lifted my body and soul off the earth like this in less than a minute. The colorful lights of the rides and attractions turned into a kaleidoscope of blur – but his beautiful face, shiny, thick, light brown hair, barely brushing his collar, and blue, blue eyes, were perfectly, and the only thing, in focus. Third degree hot guy tunnel vision. Then he spoke, his voice deep, tough and sexy, exactly how I liked ‘em;
“Feeling warmer? What’s your name?” He asked with a small, sexy smile. He had the nicest lips I’d ever seen on a guy.
I’m pretty sure I said “Lisa”. but my friend repeated it, so it probably wasn’t very audible.
After the usual “Where are you from? Where are you staying? How long are you here for?”, questions, he asked me how old I was. I gained some sense of clarity (landed on earth) for a moment and asked him the same before I gave him my answer.
“18” He responded, almost too quickly.
When you’re a teenager. a 3-year, or well, 2 1/2 year age difference is akin to a 50-year-old man dating a 20-year-old woman, intellectually, at least. A 15-year-old would be a ‘kid’ to him. I was jail bait.
“I’m..I’m…17″ I responded, LYING.
I hated myself, but I never wanted someone so much in my life. He was my ultimate day (and night) dream fantasy boy, right down to his voice. He was the guy I would fantasize about when I was a 12-year old chubby girl with glasses, sitting at home reading on a Saturday night while all of my friends, who never had an awkward stage, were at middle school make-out parties.
He asked me if I wanted to do something when he got off work. “YES YES YES!” I screamed inwardly, but kept it as cool as I could bear. I was seventeen, after all.
“Sure.” I replied breezily, as if I was so accustomed to being asked out by super hot guys.
As luck would have it, the hunky guy my friend was checking out, the one who bravely climbed the what seemed to be thousand foot tall ride as fast as a monkey up a tree, was also 18, and his friend. So, he would be there too. It was all too perfect.
The problem was, since we were 15, we had a curfew, and that curfew was midnight, and not a minute after. However, a loophole! Since it was a weekday, my mother was the only disciplinarian at the beach house because my father only came down on weekends due to work. She was easy to sneak out on – we’d been doing it since we’d arrived a few days before.
He asked us to meet them by the carousel around midnight. We decided to go home early so my mother would fall asleep, content that we were home safe, giving us plenty of time to sneak out and be there at 12:00 am on the dot. Everything went as planned, and soon we were scurrying up the ramp to the boardwalk to begin our trek to really hot, older guys who like us!
I was still floating from the initial meeting…walking on the moon, not feeling my feet as we hurried down the boardwalk, lest we were a minute late. I’d never felt so alive in all of my 15 plus years of life. The salty air was blowing my hair every which way, the sound of crashing waves in the dark night was hauntingly beautiful music, and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy was getting stronger with each step, each step closer to where the ‘perfect’ guy was waiting for me. As the lights grew brighter and the music louder, I looked up. There he was, his face breaking out in a huge smile, the best smile I’d ever seen on a guy. His smile was just like Jon Bon Jovi’s, I thought, in my 15-year old dreamy state.
“Hi, I’m so glad you showed.”, he said in that tough, sexy Matt Dillonesque voice that somehow didn’t completely jibe with his amazing face (sorta like Matt Dillon), but that’s exactly how I imagined my fantasy ‘bad boys’. Like the moment I first laid eyes on him, too scared to stand among such pretty, older girls vying for his attention, I found myself melting into a puddle of goo.
Where are my legs? I can’t feel them! Oh, there they are – they just turned into rods of JELL-O.
We couldn’t stop looking at each other as my friend and hunky monkey man chatted away – shy, fleeting glances from my end, more direct, confident glances from his.
This is where I stop because speaking of ‘bad boys’, I’ve got some sticky buns that need some attention. If you want to read the rest of this story, send me an email via my contact form or at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you where you can find it. Don’t worry, it’s free, I just wanted to take it down because it annoyed some when it came to printing out the recipes.
So what happens if you take a brioche recipe by Nancy Silverton, and sticky bun inspiration from Joanne Chang of the Flour Bakery and add orange and chocolate? You get these sticky buns.
I call them my ‘If Nancy Silverton and Joanne Chang’s sticky buns had a baby with orange and chocolate, STICKY BUNS’.
I love Nancy Silverton’s brioche recipe..I love Joanne Chang’s sticky buns. The goo is amazing in Joanne’s recipe – but a little too sweet for me, so I took the amount of sugar down a bit, added orange zest, orange supremes and substituted freshly squeezed orange juice for the water. The filling is mine. Why not add chocolate to a sticky bun filling? This is what makes them bad boys, in relation to this ‘bad boy’ theme I’ve got going here. One thing I did, via Nancy Silverton’s sticky bun recipe, was also add chopped , toasted pecans to the filling.
Since I use 1 cup of chopped and whole pecans in each pan of the goo, the pecans in the filling were nutty overkill. I omitted them from the filling in my second roll of sticky buns, and as you can see in the cross-section photo above, pure brown sugar, chocolatey, orange goodness.
The best part about these outside of the chocolate? The orange supremes caramelize so perfectly, they’re like soft orange candy.
Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns
Makes two 9-inch round pans – 14 sticky buns, if using whole batch of brioche
The directions for rolling, filling, and cutting the buns are from Nancy Silverton’s recipe, with my additions and subtractions.
Filling – this is the amount for one pan of 7 sticky buns using half the dough – make another batch for the other half of the brioche dough if making two pans. If not, make something else with the other half of the brioche dough or freeze it for later use.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup grated milk or dark chocolate
Adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, with my revisions
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Supremes from 4 navel oranges, divided – How to supreme an orange
2 cups toasted whole pecans, half of them chopped, divided (1 cup for each pan)
1. Divide dough in half; keep one half covered and chilled while working with the other. On a floured work surface, roll dough into a 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Dot surface evenly with half the softened butter and fold dough in thirds. Turn it so the closed fold is on the left and roll out again, without rolling over the edges. Fold dough in thirds again, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling with second piece of dough and remaining butter. (This is what I love about Nancy’s brioche for sticky buns, the additional butter with turns)
2. Rub orange zest into sugars until fragrant, then stir in cinnamon; set aside. Make another batch of the sugar, cinnamon and zest mixture in a separate bowl and also set aside. Have two separate bowls, each containing 2/3 cup grated chocolate, ready.
3. Remove first piece of dough from refrigerator and roll into an 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Paint surface with beaten egg. Leaving top quarter of dough bare, sprinkle one bowl of the cinnamon, orange sugars over the dough, spreading it lightly with your fingers. Top with the 2/3 cup of grated chocolate; spread with fingers to distribute evenly. Use a rolling-pin to lightly press the filling into the dough. Starting from the short side, roll into a log and pinch the seam to seal.
4. Make the gooey topping. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine until uniform. If it separates, that’s ok, keep stirring until it comes together somewhat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, orange juice, orange zest and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Wrap log in plastic and freeze until firm. Repeat with second piece of dough. While logs are chilling, lightly butter two 9-inch cake pans and divide the gooey topping evenly between them. Top each pan of gooey topping with half the orange supremes, and 1 cup toasted whole and chopped pecans.
6. Remove a log from freezer and trim ends if ragged. Slice log into seven 1 1/2-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay each slice flat, flatten slightly, and round the sides. Place rounded buns in a circle with the last one in the center; seams of buns should face outside of pan.
7. Repeat with second log. Let rest, uncovered, for 2 hours, until slices touch. Arrange oven racks so one rack is in the middle and the other just below, and preheat to 350°F. Put pans on middle rack and put a foil-lined jelly-roll pan underneath to catch drips. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Invert immediately on serving dish – one that’s big enough to catch any extra gooey topping that drips down the sides.
8. Use any extra goo on the bottom of pan or plate you turned buns over on, to drizzle over individual buns.
Finally, did you know that sticky buns originated in Germany and and are known as ‘Schnecken’? They were brought to Pennsylvania via German Settlers in the 18th century. Germany is one of many countries I’d love to visit in Europe, so I’m submitting these to Bread Baking Day #46, in which the theme is baking a bread from a place we’d love to visit, hosted by Noor of Ya Salam Cooking.
Don’t forget to tune in to Part Two of Bad Boy First Love, on the 27th!