Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TWD: Brioche Raisin Snails

Wow, talk about cheating Peabody ;-) Three recipes in one, how is that fair? But hey, it definitely stepped me out of my comfort zone, so uber thanks from moi. Brioche was something I've wanted to make for a good long time, and never have because, well... three sticks of butter?!?!? Dear god, can you say artery clogging? I don't think I go to the gym quite enough to have that sort of temptation sitting around my apartment.

All in all, things went pretty well though. The brioche came together smoothly, although it was hella sticky. Much stickier than I was expecting, and the boyfriend laughed at me until I came at him with my brioche-d fingers :-) Ha! I have to admit that recipes like this make me oh-so-very glad that I splurged and bought a KA. However, recipes like this also make me think I should be doing it manually to burn off the calories ahead of time, but oh well. In the end, the dough firmed itself up pretty well in the fridgidaire overnight. I did have to do more than "lightly sprinkle" the flour though, since the dough was still pretty sticky.

The pastry cream was a bit of a nail-biter, what with cooking egg yolks and all. I wasn't sure how much it was supposed to set up, but it tasted amazing, so I didn't really care too much. Speaking of which, you know how there are food items that you buy because you really want to use them, but then you're too afraid to ruin them? Yeah, that would be my vanilla bean purchase of about 6 months ago. I finally got over that hurdle and scraped the insides into my pastry cream instead of using my uber cheap fake vanilla extract, and oh. my. god. Flowery, delicate, but with a punch-in-the-face vanilla flavor. So very good. So very worth it. Now what to do with a 1/2 recipe of vanilla pastry cream...

Assembling was relatively easy, although I skipped flaming the raisins due to the complete lack of alcohol in my apartment besides beer and peppermint schnapps. I couldn't justify buying a fifth of dark rum for one recipe, sorry guys!

The verdict? I think it was good, but it would have been better with the optional glaze. I'm also thinking that I'd rather cut them thicker than 1 inch (or maybe a larger 1 inch than I originally cut them), just to make them less like flying saucers :) All in all, a definitely challenge, and a slightly disputed success. These are the sorts of things that make me glad I joined TWD and the food blogging community - personally challenging with tons of support, how can you beat that?

Oh, and bear with me - the recipe? Loooong.

Last week: Swedish Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake
Next week: Caramel-Topped Flan

Brioche Raisin Snails

1 cup moist, plump raisins

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)

1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)

For The Optional Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder.)

With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they're ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.

Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume--they'll be puffy and soft--about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake: When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you're using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

If You Want To Glaze The Snails: Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Golden Brioche Loaves

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

For The Glaze
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.


Di said...

Great job on your snails, Caitlin! Don't feel bad, mine looked kind of like flying saucers, too. But extremely tasty! Do try flaming the raisins sometime if you have a chance--they're really tasty.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

pastry cream with real vanilla bean sounds divine! i hope you found a good use for the leftovers (even eating it as pudding would probably be pretty darm tasty).

lemontartlet said...

If those are flying saucers, bring on the invasion! Mine flattened too, I'd love to try to make them thicker. The vanilla bean sounds so tasty!

chelley325 said...

They look wonderful Caitlin! And your vanilla bean pastry cream sounds divine! So glad that you're having fun working outside of your comfort zone :)

Marie said...

Mmm....your snails look delish! I love the extra punch a vanilla bean gives to most creamy desserts and fillings. Mine were rather flatter than I had hoped they would be, but they were delicious too!

noskos said...

They look very yummy! And nice to read that I'm not the only one who has vanilla beans and is saving them for I don't know which occasion :-)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your snails look darn tasty, and good on you for cracking into your vanilla bean pod! You'll never go back to faux vanilla extract again, I promise you!

CB said...

ohmygod! I am the same way about buying things but not using them. ugh. where were you to tell me to use my vanilla beans in my pastry cream?? I totally wanna try that now. Your saucers...er... snails look delish! Great job! :)

amanda. said...

Mmm.. they look wonderful! And now, thanks to you, I want pastry cream and lots of it!

Heather said...

Great job! Mine looked like flying saucers too. Didn't hurt the taste though! I'm with you on buying the rum. I skipped it and used rum extract.

slush said...

I second the comment about cutting them a tad thicker, I think I will do that next time too. They look fantastic Caitlin! Great job babe!

Madam Chow said...

These look great!

Erin said...

These look great! I'm glad someone else likes raisins too!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely snails! I agree that 3 sticks of butter is a bit much! The no-knead brioche uses less and I preferred the taste. Great job on yours!

Judy said...

They look great. They're supposed to be sort of flat-looking.

theflouredapron said...

I do the exact same thing when it comes to buying splurge ingredients and then letting them sit in my pantry for months! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. Your snails look delicious, and I'm sure the pastry cream with a vanilla bean was amazing!

Natalie said...

Hmmm... peppermint schnapp raisins. You should have gone for it! :D

Mine were flat too. Next time, I'm trying Peabody's trick of using a muffin tin.

Oh, and totally using a vanilla bean next time. Sounds delicious!

Rachel said...

Great job! I love the vanilla bean idea. I have a bunch just chilling and I need to use them up. :)

Jaime said...

great job! i agree about cutting them thicker...i expected them to rise more!

Rebecca said...

FYI: In the event of an alcohol baking emergency, where you need the liquor but just a few tablespoons, ask your local liquor store if they carry the tiny bottles, like you'd find on an airplane. Good quality and just a few dollars.

cruisingkitty said...

I had a vanilla bean and I never thought of using it! Next time!
I thought that 3 sticks of butter was a typo, but I did it anyway and they came out fine. Good Job!

Lori said...

I bet your pastry cream was wonderful. I really need to invest in some vanilla bean pods.

Tartelette said...

You did a fabulous job! I think they look perfect you are too hard on yourself!

Peabody said...

I only get to pick one recipe...why not the multi step one :)
Loving the vanilla bean usage.

smellslikehome said...

Great job on your snails Caitlin! To be honest, I didn't think the glaze added too much and I saved a lot of calories by not drizzling it on all of the snails. Love the idea of using vanilla beans in the pastry cream!