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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nigella Meets National Sticky Bun Day and the Master Baker

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Did I need a good excuse to make another sticky bun recipe? Not really, but it doesn't hurt. Did I find one? No, I found three! I was going to make them anyway for National Sticky Bun Day on Feb. 21st, but since I found the Master Baker - Cinnamon Event, I thought that was another good reason to justify this again. Oh, and though I can't find a good resource online showing that today is such a lovely holiday, I am confident that my information is correct. Why? Because on his cinnamon bun episode Alton Brown said so and if he says so, that's more than good enough for me.


Now enters Nigella. The esteemable Ms. Lawson. One of the recipes sitting in my files for a while now is for Schnecken. Yes, seriously fun word. So, here we are again, feeding my craving - and hopefully yours too! I'll be submitting this one to Foodie Chickie for the Weekend Cook Book Challenge #25. It is thanks to her choice of Nigella Lawson for the theme this time that I get to make this recipe in particular.

Nigella says about these buns in her book How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and The Art of Comfort Cooking that “Schnecken means "snails," which is what these German-American coiled buns resemble. They are like the Norwegian cinnamon buns*, only more so. By which I mean they are stickier, puffier, gooier and generally more over the top." Nigella also says that she actually came across this recipe in one of her favorite books, The Village Baker's Wife by Gayle and Joe Ortiz, which she recommends as well as it's companion The Village Baker. *(note from PheMOM: this is another recipe in Nigella's fabulous book).

I obviously couldn't have said it better, and besides, unless you are lucky enough to live in the U.K. and hear accents as lovely as Nigella's all the time (or have one) then it is just more fun to imagine this in her voice. So, word for word, here is her recipe (with a few little notes from me, the doubter, while I was making this - since I was sure I was doing something wrong):

Schnecken
For the Dough:
3 1/3 cups bread flour
3 Tbsp cup sugar (which I assume means regular white sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 package (1/4 oz) rapid-rise yeast or 1 Tbsp fresh yeast
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
2 large eggs

For the Syrup:
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
4 Tbsp maple syrup (I didn't have any real maple syrup, so I opted to use honey here)
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp dark corn syrup (I added this because I thought the taste and texture would help)
About 1 cup walnut or pecan pieces

For the Glaze:
1 large egg
2 Tbsp milk

For the Filling:
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon


You will also need:
12-cup muffin pan, buttered parchment-paper lined roasting pan or baking pan for turning the sticky buns out onto later - large enough to cover muffin pan

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.

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Melt the butter in the milk - use a microwave and a measuring cup for ease - beat in the eggs.

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Stir into the dry ingredients to make a dough.

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Knead for 10 minutes or for 5 with a dough hook. When it's springy and satiny, form it into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap.

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Leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

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Notice, the dough did not get smooth. I took the cue from Nigella's directions, and the use of bread flour, that perhaps this is supposed to be a firmer dough. So, after I finished kneading into a ball by hand for a couple of minutes, I didn't push my luck further. Thus, here is my dough. Yes, it was springy and somewhat satiny, but definately different than any other sweet roll type dough I have made, unless it was a brioche recipe. Oh, and it really took the full hour to get just doubled - even using the "rapid-rise yeast."

Using an electric mixer, start on the syrup: beat the butter until soft and smooth and add the sugar, still beating. Beat in the syrups and then divide this mixture among the muffin cups. (I also lightly sprayed the cups so they wouldn't stick as much later).


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This mixture, even with the additional tablespoon of dark corn syrup I added, did not make a syrup consistency, but more of just a soft butter. Again, I just plugged along having faith. I spread the mixture into the muffin tin and patted it down with the back of a spoon with a little cooking spray to keep from sticking.


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Top with the nuts, about a tablespoonful in each sticky-based waiting cup. I just placed pieces into the butter, enough to cover the area.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the dough's ready, knock it back, knead once or twice and then roll out to a large rectangle, approximately 24 by 12 inches, with the long side nearest you. (I couldn't roll mine any bigger than 16 x 12 inches). Beat the egg and add the milk. Glaze the dough, using a pastry brush to paint, or just your fingers.

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Mix the filling ingredients in a little bowl.

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Sprinkle onto the dough.

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Now, roll up from the long side and away from you, carefully and firmly (though not too tightly), keeping a firm sausage shape.

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Cut into 12 even slices, and lie each slice spiral-swirly cut side up, on top of the nuts and syrup in the muffin cups.

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Leave to rise for about 20 minutes and when they're risen and puffy, put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, by which time they should be golden and cooked; crisp in parts, voluptuously gooey in others. (Mine took the full 25 minutes.)

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Place the roasting pan or baking sheet on top and turn the whole thing the other way up. (You will need oven mitts and a degree of caution for this.) Remove the muffin tray and dislodge any nuts that are still stuck in it, adding them, along with any residual syrup, to the upturned buns. Leave to cool, then apply to face - as if you needed my encouragement.

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Makes 12
Final note: These tasted great and, other than second guessing myself, weren't too difficult to make. The next time I make them though, I will use all-purpose flour, and maybe a little less to start with. Also, these actually didn't turn out very gooey at all, as you can see. I will probably increase the amount of dark corn syrup, or add some cream to the syrup for a bit more of a caramel effect.


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2 comments:

DawnsRecipes said...

Yummmmm!!! Anything with pecans gets an A+ in my book!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I live in Ireland and so I'm not sure if you can get golden syrup in America (or even if it is the same thing as light corn syrup)but in the UK version of this recipe Nigella suggests 3 Tbsp of Golden Syrup. I use Lyle's, it's in a green tin. They have a website www.lylesgoldensyrup.com and maybe they can tell you if there are any shops (English or Irish most likely) that sell it near you. This and real maple syrup combine to really give a gooey, golden brown colour.

Also, I was doing a lot of baking one day and all my muffin tins were in use when I remebered I needed one for this recipe, so I used a buttered, parchment lined rectangular baking tin for my schnecken and placed the 'snails' next to each other-much gooier than the muffin tin version. I've never used the muffin tin since.

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