Monday, November 8, 2010

Chewy Cinnamon Sticks

Pastry Lesson #1: Pastries and yeast baking require time... 
lots of time.

I don't know why, but lately I've been antsy to try my hands at pastries.

I mean, what's a bakery without pastries right? I have to try them some time.. and there's no better time than now.

I knew that pastries were labor intensive, but I had no idea how much prep time really goes into them.

I woke up this weekend with all intentions to make croissants, only to be highly disappointed when I realized that if I wanted to eat breakfast at breakfast then it would be impossible- the whole process takes about a day.

Then I remembered a cookbook I recently got that had some simple sounding pastry recipes and learned quickly that even if a pastry seems simple in nature, the process still starts hours prior.

Hanging my head in defeat, I started flipping through A Passion for Baking and came upon Marcy's Chewy Chocolate Sticks. The recipe was part of the Sweet Yeast Baking section, described as 'a wonderful venue for baking, as it combines some of the attributes and appeal of bread baking with much of the appeal of pasty baking.'

It's like training wheels for pastry AND bread baking (something I also need to get better at).

We weren't feeling chocolate (weird, I know), so instead I filled the chewy sticks with cinnamon, dried blueberries and almonds.

Chewy Cinnamon Sticks
Adapted from A Passion for Baking
Oven: 350 Bake Time: 25 minutes
Prep time: 1 to 2 hours
Makes 12 pastry sticks

1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 TBS rapid rise yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup dry milk powder
2 cups AP flour
2 cups bread flour

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 TBS cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into cubes
1/2 cup raisins or dried blueberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds* optional

Finishing touch
egg white, beaten
TBS filling mixture

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, mix warm water, sugar and salt until combined.
Sprinkle yeast over mixture and lightly whisk to break up yeast.
Let stand for 3-5 minutes until mixture starts to foam.
Briskly whisk in eggs, butter, vanilla, milk powder and most of flours- blending well.
Attach dough hook and knead of lowest speed for about 10 minutes, adding remaining flour to form soft dough.
Remove dough hook and spray dough with non-stick cooking spray.
Cover bowl with saran wrap and let dough rise 30-60 minutes or until it almost doubles in size*
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and gently deflate.
Press dough out to a 20 by 10 inch rectangle.
Blend sugars and cinnamon and scatter over dough. Dot with butter and sprinkle blueberries and almonds over dough.
Roll dough into a long (starting with longer side toward you); then flatten gently.
Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut into 12 sticks and place on prepared baking sheets, stretching each a little bit and twisting.
Brush pastries with beaten egg white and dust with sugar.
Cover loosely with saran wrap and let sticks rise 30-40 minutes or until almost doubled.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool in baking sheets.

Happy Baking!
Next week, no training wheels..