Sunday, January 11, 2015

Schnecken/ Pecan Cinnamon Buns

It is a tradition of my mother to make cinnamon rolls at Christmas for breakfast. These rolls are light and airy, filled with cinnamon and nuts. However, there are other households which take the tradition to a sweeter level by having the cinnamon rolls topped with a sticky sweet caramel and toasted pecans.

In comparison, these have more of a pastry than "bread-like" quality to the dough when baked up.  While less filling than bread, each serving does hit the mark for your sweet tooth.  Instead of just cinnamon lovers, these rolls will have your pecan pie lovers taking notice.

I found the rolls quite easy to make. The dough did not require a lot of shaping and kneading.  Outside of the rise time, it is just a matter of rolling up the dough like a jelly roll and slicing.  Also, these rolls fell out of the pan easily when inverting and came out without leaving a lot of topping still sticking to the pan.  Topping in the pan is something I did not want to have to tangle with, so I was happy to see it in its rightful place.

The other good point about these rolls are that they can be prepared the night before and placed in the refrigerator. Follow everything as directed up to the end of the 40 minute rise time. Then cover and place in refrigerator. The next morning, remove pan from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. Then bake as directed.

Schnecken/Pecan Cinnamon Buns
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients/ Dough
1 cup milk
1 egg and 1 yolk
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (more for greasing pan and bowl)
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 3/4 tsp regular salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
5 tbs sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark-not specified)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1/4 cup corn syrup

1 cup sugar
1 tbs cinnamon

The first step to making the dough is to melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted, pour in the milk and then add the sugar.  Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon until there is no longer a grainy feeling when scraping the bottom of the saucepan, which means the sugar has all dissolved.  The ideal temperature for this is 110 degrees, so test the temperature with a candy thermometer and let cool or heat further according to the temperature it registers.

At the idea temperature, pour mixture in a heat proof bowl.  Sprinkle in the yeast and stir, making sure it is mixed evenly without clumps. Let rest 10 minutes and then stir in the salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, place the egg and yolk and mix with a fork until all is blended.  Pour into the yeast batter and mix.  After the egg and yolk are thoroughly mixed in, prepare a flat surface by dusting with flour.  Then add 1 cup of flour to the batter and stir.  Continue to add the flour in one cup increments until 3 cups have been incorporated, stirring mixture after each addition.  Check for the consistency of the dough, it should be sticky.  Reserve the rest of the flour for dusting and kneading.

Place the dough on the prepared flat surface and knead about 5 times.  Your dough should now be smooth and elastic.  Butter the interior of a large bowl and a 9 x13 inch glass pan.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bottom of the prepared bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until tripled in volume, which should take about 2 hours.

During the last 1/2 hour of rising time, prepare the topping.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then stir in the corn syrup and brown sugar.  Let thicken a little and remove from heat.  You will notice that there is some excess butter that does not blend in.  It is okay, the excess is what enables the saucepan to be cleanly emptied along with the pan when inverted.

Pour brown sugar mixture into the prepared pan and let run to the edges evenly.  Then sprinkle on the chopped pecans, being careful not to get too close to the edge.  The ones close to the edge will most likely fall off the outer edge of the rolls.  No worries though, these as well as topping spill over can be easily scooped up and placed on top of the rolls when inverted.  However, should you need to do this, do not delay after removing the glass pan or the mixture will set up and make it more difficult. After filling with topping, set pan aside.

Prepare the filling by mixing the cinnamon and sugar together.  Then melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool.

Once dough has risen, punch down and then place on flat surface dusted with flour.  Roll dough out to the size of 12x15 inches with an even thickness.  Brush with the melted butter and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface. Press into the butter lightly with a spatula and make sure all is damp.  Dry cinnamon sugar will have a tendency to spill out when the dough is cut.

Take the longest edge and start rolling up.  Should you have any issues with sticking, use a bench scraper to ease it off the surface.  Roll the dough into a long cylinder with the seam facing down.  Then slice vertically into 12-14 inch pieces approx 1 inch thick.  Place each piece, cut side up, evenly in the pan.  Remember that these will rise some more, so do not place them too tightly together.   Tear off enough plastic wrap to cover pan.  Oil one side of plastic wrap and cover pan of rolls with the oil side face down.  Let rise in a warm place for about 40-50 minutes.

10 minutes prior to rise time completion, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  After the rising time, uncover rolls and place pan in oven and bake for 17 minutes.  Then rotate pan and bake for another 17-20 minutes.  Check periodically to make sure they are not getting too brown.  If so, place aluminum foil over pan (do not fold tightly around edges but just let set on top loosely) and continue to bake.

Remove pan and place over rack and let rolls rest for 10 minutes.  During this time, line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper.  After the 10 minutes have expired, invert the rolls on the paper lined baking sheet.  The easiest and cleanest way to do this is to hold the baking sheet with the paper inside and place face down on top of the glass dish.  Then grip the handles of the baking dish along with the baking sheet edges and invert.  Then lift glass pan off of rolls.

Serve warm and enjoy.
                                  **LAST YEAR: Kiwi Pomegranate Angel Pies**