Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TWD: Brioche Raisin Snails

Not much can get me motivated enough to get up before 6 am in the morning, especially on a Sunday. But, this past Sunday, there was a special feature on a television news show that I really wanted to see, so 6 am it was. While I waited for the story to air, I took advantage of my extra time to assemble this week’s “Tuesdays with Dorie” creation, Brioche Raisin Snails, thoughtfully chosen by the charming Peabody, from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I had prepared all the components the night before, so the task was easy.

First I had made the pastry cream, flavoring it with rum extract, to complement the rum-flavored fruit.

Next, I made the brioche dough. I really was uncertain how this was going to turn out, because the softened butter just refused to incorporate itself into the flour mixture. It took nearly 20 minutes at medium-high speed on the super-duper KA (aka Silver Sage) before it was done. But, I only had to deflate it 3 times during the refrigeration part, so that was ok. I hoped.

Finally, I prepared the fruit filling, opting for currants instead of raisins. I only used ¾ cup and 2 tablespoons of dark rum and had no difficulties with the flambĂ©eing part. Pretty exciting, actually. Next time, I’ll probably cut the amount of fruit back to 2/3 cups, which would be plenty.

So, early on Sunday morning, I just had to roll out the dough, spread on the filling,

slice the rolls, and let them rise. The dough was easy to roll out, which was encouraging. Using a combination of unwaxed dental floss and my bench scraper, made slicing easy as well. Not too much filling oozed out.

While the rolls were rising, I turned the remaining half of the dough into the brioche loaf, which I froze after baking.

The rolls were out of the oven by 9 am, and frosted by 9:15 am.

I have to say, they turned out nearly perfectly, considering my doubts at the beginning. My neighbor happily took 4 of them for breakfast, leaving only 8 to torment me. There are still 4 left, since I’m trying to make them last as long as possible. If I could be that productive every morning, I might think twice about sleeping in.

Thanks to Peabody for a delicious choice. Be sure to check out the results from the other TWD bakers and go to Dorie's own blog for her comments about our group!

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.


noskos said...

Your snails look fabulous! And aren't they good??

Engineer Baker said...

They look awesome! Since I don't have handy neighbors to foist mine off on, all but two are still hanging out in my freezer - lucky you, with only 8 to torment you!

Anonymous said...

They look wonderful! I love productive mornings too!

Anonymous said...

That nice at 6 a.m.? You are truly a baking prodigy!

Marie Rayner said...

Ohh well done! They look fabulous! I am a person that does her best work early in the morning as well!

Mari said...

What could possibly be that good on TV on a Sunday morning at 6 am?!

Your snails look great though, so maybe there is some sort of early morning baking magic that we just never knew about?

CB said...

Its amazing what you can do at 6am huh? I am a morning person myself but I don't seem very productive with my extra time. haha. Your snails look awesome. Great job!

Madam Chow said...

It took me 20 minutes with my KA, too. Glad you ended up liking these!

Anonymous said...

These look wonderful! I loved them too!

Di said...

Your snails look great! I'm up that early way too often, but that's because I have small children who don't seem to know how to sleep past sunrise (if that long). Unfortunately, I don't get to be that productive even when I'm up early, since having a toddler underfoot in the kitchen doesn't work that well... =)

Bumblebutton said...

Night owl that I am, I couldn't imagine. But your snails sure look yummy!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Judy, I love the currants in your snails! I think they look adorable! Great job with this one!

Natalie said...


I had the opposite problem with my KA and the brioche - it incorporated into a ball before I got the butter in. I was sure I ruined it!

Rachel said...

I'm so happy to see all these successes. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I sent the last of these off this morning, but your post has me thinking they'd be nice for Easter brunch ... with currants this time. Good substitution.

Anonymous said...

Wow! They're huge! Lovely, lovely!

Jaime said...

great idea adding the extract to the pastry cream! :)

ostwestwind said...

They look wonderful, like you I baked them in the morning. It was hard no to eat all myself!

Dolores said...

I'm saving this recipe for the weekend, when I'll have house guests to help me fend off the temptation (and eat the evidence). I can't wait... they LOOK great!

Heather B said...

Great job! Looks delicious!

Peabody said...

I probably would have beat my neighbor down if she took 4 of mine. :)
So glad that you liked them.
Job well done.