After a 3 week stretch with no baking, I finally caught up a bit this past weekend. With the exception of some crescent rolls for Thanksgiving dinner from a recipe in Southern Living magazine, everything was from the Bread Bakers Apprentice.
My wife volunteered me to bring cinnamon rolls to a brunch with friends. I decided to try Reinhart's formula from BBA and it was a big hit. I made a double batch so that I could try both the cinnamon roll and the sticky bun variations. Plus, we needed a bunch anyway. The dough is fabulously rich and sweet. The inclusion of the lemon zest adds both a fragrance and a flavor that are still identifiable in the finished baked goods. Because it was for a Saturday brunch, I made the dough Friday evening, shaped it into rolls and put them in the refrigerator to retard overnight. That gave me time to bake them in the morning and convey them, still warm, to the brunch.
I did take a few liberties with the rolls. Reinhart calls for spreading a cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough before rolling it up, using white sugar. I replaced the white sugar with brown sugar for some additional flavor. And, remembering a delightful twist from my college days, I scattered some chopped apple and chopped walnuts on the cinnamon rolls before rolling up the dough. (That idea comes from the enormous cinnamon rolls that are still available from the Hilltop Restaurant in L'Anse, Michigan, just up the hill from Lake Superior. They will even ship the rolls to buyers in the U.S. if you want to order them from their website at http://www.sweetroll.com/ . And no, I don't get any commission, just a bit of nostalgia.) The other variation was to add some chopped pecans on top of the glaze for the sticky buns.
Here are the cinnamon rolls, after coming out of the refrigerator:
You can see that the dough is so soft (I didn't even need a rolling pin to spread it into a rectangle; just patted it out) that some of the rolls have partially collapsed, even though they were refrigerated. If I have to use the overnight retard again, I think that I will allow them to rise to nearly full size before putting them into the refrigerator. That way they will hold their shape better. As it was, I had to nudge them back into shape as they completed rising at room temperature.
Finished, they looked like this:
The sticky buns looked like this after being taken from the refrigerator:
As with the cinnamon rolls, I had to straighten these up as they rose. You can see the layer of caramel topping in the bottom of the pan, with the bits of pecans. Reinhart notes that any excess topping can be refrigerated. Silly man! We used it all!
After baking and inverting onto another pan to let all of that wonderful caramel coat them, the sticky buns looked like this:
Oh, yeah, they are good! One friend said that although the cinnamon rolls were the best she had ever had, the sticky buns were over the top. My wife has already told me that these will be on the menu when everyone is home for Christmas.
It also occurred to me that my sourdough starter had been neglected recently, so I started feeding it on Friday morning. After four feedings, one of rye, it was ready to go to work Saturday afternoon. Since there was enough to fuel two batches of bread, I started with the New York Deli Rye from BBA. When I made the deli rye previously, I used fennel seeds in place of the optional caraway seeds. This time, I remembered just how well dill gets along with onion, so I added dill seed to the dough. It may not be original, but it is absolutely delicious in this bread. What a great foundation for sandwiches! The dill seed, I think, will be a standard part of this recipe going forward. Because of the yeast that Reinhart includes in this formula, I was able to complete this bread before going to bed Saturday evening. Here are the finished loaves:
I'm not entirely certain what caused the lighter blotchiness on the top crust, unless maybe it was the spray oil on the plastic that I used to cover the loaves while they fermented.
After setting the deli rye dough to bulk ferment, I started a batch of the basic sourdough bread, also from BBA. After bulk fermenting and shaping at room temperature, the loaves went into the refrigerator. On Sunday, after getting home from church, I pulled the dough out of the refrigerator and allowed it to finish fermenting at room temperature. Then I baked it on a stone, with steam, starting at 500F and then dropping to 450F after 10 minutes. When the internal temperature reached 205F (love that instant read thermometer!), took them out of the oven. At that point, they looked like this:
I still need to practice slashing, although one loaf came out better than the other. They also formed small ears along the slashes. I have no idea what the crumb looked like, since I gave them to friends. Apparently the flavor was alright, since they reported that one loaf was half-eaten by the time they got back to their house.
It was a real treat to get that much baking in over the course of a few days, especially since a couple of recipes were new to me. And it was a pleasure to find some new favorites.