Pumpkin Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009. May I recommend these for Thanksgiving breakfast?

I like these pumpkin cinnamon rolls a lot.

In case it seems like I’m damning them with faint praise, consider that I’ve spent the past two weeks in class redefining my relationship with butter. Brioche à tête. Brioche sucrée. More brioche à tête. Cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns. Brioche tarts. Brioche tartlets. Brioche coffee cake. Strawberry brioche. Gibassier. Stollen. Panettone. Pan d’oro. And let’s not forget croissants 521 ways.

They’re delicious, they’re beautiful, they’re fun to make, every one of them. So I truly mean no disrespect when I say Stop! I’m supersaturated! Quick, someone give me a lima bean (and if you know me, you’ll recognize a truly desperate plea here.)

But back to the rolls. I made them at home, the weekend before we started this descent into the sweet, rich, yeasty madness known as the Viennoiserie unit. I guess I thought… well, clearly I was unencumbered by the thought process, as Click and Clack would say.

But I can I still say like these rolls, and right now, that’s saying a lot. Maybe you’ll like them too.

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Pumpkin Anise Sourdough Bagels

pumpkin-anise-bagels-wild-yeast-550

Here’s a nod to pumpkin season, but not the ubiquitous “pumpkin spice.” The large proportion of pumpkin yields a bagel that is compact and chewy, but not hard or dry. If you’re not an anise fan, or prefer something more savory, caraway or cumin seeds could be interesting.

I think most people believe bagels are difficult to make, but they’re not. They do require a lot of mixing to achieve a high degree of gluten development, though, so a stand mixer is helpful. That’s even more true with these particular bagels, because the pumpkin should be evenly incorporated in the dough, and that will be challenging if you’re mixing by hand. But it’s not impossible; just plan to spend at least 30 minutes giving your arms a workout!

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Panettone, In Miniature

mini-panettone-wild-yeast

It’s panettone time again! I bake this rich, light, citrus-and vanilla-scented bread every holiday season. It’s one of my favorite things to make because, although it requires meticulous mixing and handling, a more festive bread never graced a holiday table.

This year I used my go-to recipe, which I detailed in last year’s panettone post. The only difference is that, for the first time, I baked it in these wonderful diminutive molds. Although it was a bit more work, I loved ending up with 20 small breads — each perfect for one, or sharing with a friend.

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Pan de Muerto

pan de muerto

Pan de muerto is the traditional Mexican sweet bread eaten during Día de los Muertos, observed November 1 and 2 to honor loved ones who have died and celebrate the eternal cycle of life. The signatures of this soft, sweet, orange- or anise-scented bread are the “skull” and “bones” and that decorate its top and sides.

This pan de muerto recipe is richer in butter than one I have made in the past, and zestier with the use of sourdough starter. I present it in honor of mis muertos, who made my life richer and zestier in countless ways:

My father: Charles W. Tenney, Jr., a brilliant mind and playful wit, who encouraged me to dream first and ask questions later.

Charles W Tenney Jr

My maternal grandparents: Mary Strawson, who taught me  to make things with my hands, and Stanton Strawson, who thought hammering together wooden vessels to float in the tide pool was a perfectly wonderful pursuit for little girls.

Stanton and Mary Strawson

My paternal grandparents: Mildred Tenney, who loved nothing more than sitting down at the piano to play a lively tune, and Charles W. Tenney, Sr., who gave me stamps that inspired me to learn how to use an atlas and discover more about the big world out there.

Mildred and Charles Tenney

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Panettone

I started making panettone at Christmastime in 2006. Over these few years, I have tried variations on the recipe (here’s a chocolate one, and here’s one studded with bits of chocolate and ginger), but this is the one I keep coming back to. I still hold my breath each time I make it, because it’s fussy and needs to be pampered. But given patience, discipline, and a loving hand, it does not disappoint. Light and buttery, citrus-y sweet and holiday-special, its baking is a ritual that comforts and satisfies me. Sharing it with my family, and with you, makes me unreasonably happy.

 I first posted this panettone in 2007, and the recipe hasn’t changed. But I have accumulated a few refinements and lessons learned, so I thought it was time, once again, to tell you everything I know about making panettone.

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Yogurt!

There’s always a lot of fermentation going on around here. Yeast is doing plenty of that work, but bacteria also get in on the action. Sourdough cultures contain — along with wild yeast — one or more strains of Lactobacillus, which produce the acids responsible for the “sour.” But lactobacilli like to ferment other things in addition to flour; they help turn cabbage into sauerkraut, cacao into chocolate, and apples into cider.

Then of course there’s milk, for which the bacteria were named in the first place. Lactobacilli love lactose (the sugar in milk), and the resulting yogurt loves us! Medical research suggests that regular consumption of yogurt, like other fermented foods, has beneficial effects on cholesterol, immune function, and digestive tract health (some references for these claims are listed below). Yogurt is also rich source of calcium and protein, and can often be enjoyed even by people who are lactose-intolerant.  Or you could forget all that and eat it just because it’s tangy and creamy and delicious.

In any case, the good news is that it’s simple to make your own. Heat the milk, add a little “starter” (store-bought yogurt or some of your own from the last batch), keep it warm for a few hours, and you’re done. No really, it’s that simple.

 I love my Brod and Taylor proofer for making yogurt. It maintains a constant and easily adjustable temperature, and you don’t need special containers like you do for a specialized  yogurt maker; any glass or ceramic jars will work, as long as they fit inside the roomy box. The yogurt-making method on Brod and Taylor’s website is easy, relatively fast, and yields a smooth, mild-flavored yogurt that has earned wonderful reviews from everyone I’ve fed it to. In fact, while I can’t tolerate the very sour flavor of plain store-bought yogurt, I can eat this without any accompaniment at all — although a sprinkling of muesli and a few raspberries certainly don’t hurt!

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