Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TWD: Pecan Sticky Buns

TWD: Pecan Sticky Buns

I had one of those weekends that lasted forever. Lots of time with my family, great food and gardening. True bliss.

It's started off rocky on Friday evening; both my husband and I arrived home in equal measures of grumpy.  Because we both take great pleasure in food, on days that the two of us cannot decide what we want to eat we have a hard time shaking our funk. We made Nathan and Sarah their usual Friday night dinner: Annie's Mac and Cheese and hot dogs.  I know we are foodies.  How can this uninspired menu be a tradition?  Listen our kids love risotto, steak medium-rare, mushrooms, Greek salad with lots of feta cheese, mussels and can be pretty much be brought to any kind of upscale restaurant. So how can we forsake them that one night a week when they have comfort food on their terms.  With the kid's tummy's taken care of, what are we to do?

What could shake us out of our indecisive and sad state?


So frozen yogurt it was. Jason and I actually ended up having dinner-in-reverse.  We're sure that we began a new food craze.  Dessert first then followed by dinner. While our quesadilla dinner did not live up to the corn tacos with chipotle skirt steak with avocado cream (http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/04/dinner-for-two-hot-hot-hot-chipotle-steak-tac.html)  that we made on Thursday night, dinner-in-reverse was the way to go.

Sunday morning began with a trip to Gerry's Donuts in Ellington, CT.  If you don't have a local doughnut place near you; I feel sorry for you.  This is one of those no-nonsense kind of places.  The donuts are made fresh and are spectacular.  They have cake-like and yeast-based donuts and other than these breakfast treats there is a very limited menu.  If you go to Gerry's and walk in wearing your Sunday best, don't tell them I sent you. I don't want to be associated with you.  It's a place to grab a black coffee and a strait-forwardly awesome doughnut wearing your sweatpants and Red Sox hat. Anything other than that you are a pretentious loser.

The sticky bun ADVENTURE began on Sunday night.  

I prepared the brioche dough and place in the refrigerator for the overnight rise.

On Monday evening, Sarah helped me roll out the dough.  While we made a whole batch of the brioche, we decided to take half of the dough and freeze it to make sweet rolls this coming weekend.

Sarah and I had a bit of the butter and brown sugar from the pan. Crunchy, sweet, yumminess. 

Sarah tried the pecans and decided that while she liked them she wanted her sticky bun to have no nuts.  That was a given for Nate.

I wasn't able to capture it super well here but you could see the layers of butter.  

This morning, I woke up at 4:00 am and took the rolls out of the refrigerator and let them rise for 2 hours before I got up again and put on the oven. The buns entered the oven at about 6:15 am.

The smell when I got out of the shower was intoxicating. Sarah and Nathan sat by the oven and watched and waited for them to be ready to come out.

Nathan and Sarah were so nervous when I immediately turned the rolls over on a plate.
These were such a bit hit.  My husband who is not huge on sweets for breakfast gobbled one up.  What a great way to start the morning.

I realized that I'm no longer afraid to tackle the croissants.  Bring it on!

See you all in June, can't wait to learn what is next.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD: Hungarian Shortbread

TWD: Hungarian Shortbread

This is another one of the recipes that I've been eyeing for years. While I thought the taste was fantastic, I've been second guessing if we got the texture exactly right.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself. 

Sarah and I made the rhubarb filling the week before because Dad found some great red stalks at Whole Foods.  The sauce was sweet and tart and would be excellent over ice cream. 

Sarah did a great job measuring out the salt and helping me with the rest of the dry ingredients.  Sarah's Kindergarten class has been learning about measuring and she's pretty into it and is loving explaining all that she knows on the subject.  For this reason she wanted to put four times as much salt as the recipe called for because using the teaspoon is so much fun!

A pound of butter, how can you go wrong? When we first turned on the KitchenAid, one of the sticks came flying out of the bowl. "Whoopsy",  Sarah said.  So just to let all the tasters in my family and work know, yes the "five second rule" was involved here if you catch my drift.

When I got the grater out my husband thought I had gone crazy.  It's a pretty weird method but I can see why this would help the shortbread turn out light a fluffy rather than too hard and cookie-like. It looked pretty weird going into the oven.  So much so that I did not include the picture.  I hate to write about gross comparisons to what it resembled in a food blog so I'll let you use your imagination on your own.

This is my favorite photograph; the rhubarb is pretty-in-pink and glistening.  Rhubarb does have a gelatinous quality to it.  I think if I ever prepare this to serve over ice cream I would blend it.

I baked for 50 minutes instead of the 40 minutes as written in the recipe.  The top was golden brown and the shortbread was not longer giggly.  We finished baking this at about 8:15 pm on Sunday so I let it cool on the counter for most of the night. Sarah wanted to try so badly, she woke up at about 8:45 pm and called very quietly to me as she walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.  We both took a snitch of the edge which was warm, crunchy, buttery and tart from the rhubarb. I shepherded her back up to her room with us both happy that this was our little secret.

So it looks good, but I did find that the texture was different throughout and changed based on when we ate it.  For example, I put the pan in the refrigerator after I let it cool and when the shortbread was cold the pieces tasted, especially the bottom, a little too mushy for my liking.  I brought some squares into the office and those sitting at room temperature have a nice texture.  But I have to say that first snitch out of the oven with that wonderful crunch was the best.  I have frozen a dozen small squares to serve this weekend for dessert for Nathan's First Communion brunch.  Now knowing that they are better at room temp, I will take out the night before and leave them out.  Next time I make this, I will cook for longer, perhaps make the shortbread layers thinner and eat right away so they keep their crunch.

See you later on this month....for sticky buns!