Friday, June 27, 2014

Daring Bakers! - Cinnamon Bun Pie

Hello, dear readers. Yesterday...I cried in the car. My friends are scattering all over the country, including my best friend of the past four years, who left for California yesterday. So I'm sad, understandably, right? I don't like change, and proximity is honestly such a huge factor in maintaining relationships of any kind. Things are just easier when you're closer together. And for some people, long distance friendships aren't worth the effort. At least, that's what I'm afraid of. I fear that my meaningful relationships will wither away into husks of what they were. 

People say there are certain kind of relationship where you can go without speaking for years, then pick things right up from where they left off last time you saw each other. That may be true, but I hate the idea, because regular, frequent communication is incredibly important to me. Maybe I'm just saying that because I've never experienced such a relationship as the one described above. Things change, things change all the time, and there's nothing I can do to stop that. I just hope that the people who matter to me stay in my life. 

So, uh...let's talk about this food business. The Daring Bakers theme this month was cinnamon rolls, but since I've already blogged about cinnamon rolls, I decided to go with my baker crush, Christina Tosi, and make her Cinnamon Bun Pie. It's not the prettiest, but it's crazy good. Can't go wrong with Liquid Cheesecake. Anyway, enjoy it. And if you have any insights about friendships and relationships, I'd love to hear about them. 

Dinosaurs love cinnamon. Truefacts.

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

Cinnamon Bun Pie 
 (All ingredients are in cups and grams, so choose what you prefer)

1 recipe mother dough (recipe below), proofed
30 g flour, for dusting 3 tablespoons
80 g brown butter ¼ cup
1 recipe liquid cheesecake (below)
60 g light brown sugar ¼ cup, packed
1 g kosher salt ¼ teaspoon
2 g ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
1 recipe cinnamon streusel (below)

1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
2. Punch down and flatten the mother dough.
3. Take a pinch of flour and throw it across the surface of a smooth dry countertop to lightly coat the counter. Take another pinch of flour and lightly dust a rolling pin. Use the rolling pin to flatten the punched-down circle of dough, then roll out the dough with the rolling pin or stretch the dough out by hand as if you were making a pizza from scratch. Your end goal is to create a large circle that is approximately 11 inches in diameter. Keep your 10-inch pie tin nearby tor reference. The 11-inch dough round should be ¼ to ½ inch thick.
4. Gently place the dough in the pie tin. Alternate between using your fingers and palms of your hands to press the dough firmly into place. Put the pie tin on a sheet pan.
5. Use the back of a spoon to spread halt of the brown butter in an even layer over the dough.
6. Use the back of another spoon (you don’t want brown butter in your creamy white cheesecake layer!) to spread half the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the brown butter. Spread the remaining brown butter in an even layer over the liquid cheesecake.
7. Scatter the brown sugar on top of the brown butter. Tamp it down with the back of your hand to help keep it in place. Then sprinkle evenly with the salt and cinnamon.
8. Now for the trickiest layer: The remaining liquid cheesecake. Stay cool, and spread it as gently as you can to achieve the most even layer possible.
9. Sprinkle the streusel evenly on top of the cheesecake layer. Use the back of your hand to secure the streusel.
10. Bake the pie tor 40 minutes. The crust will puff and brown, the liquid cheesecake will set firm, and the streusel topping will crunch up and brown. After 40 minutes, gently shake the pan. The center of the pie should be slightly jiggly. The filing should be set toward the outer boundaries of the pie tin. If some of the filing erupted onto the sheet pan below, don't worry – consider it a snack tor later. It necessary, bake for an additional 5 minutes, until the pie meets the description above.
11. Cool the pie on a wire rack. To store, cool the pie completely and wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, the pie will keep fresh tor 3 days (the crust gets stale quickly); in the freezer, it will keep tor 1 month.
12. When you are ready to serve the pie, know that it's best served warm! Slice and microwave each slice on high for 30 seconds, or warm the whole pie in a 250°F oven for 10 to 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

Mother Dough
makes about 850 g (2 pounds)

550 g flour 3½ cups
12 g kosher salt 1 tablespoon
3.5 g active dry yeast ½ packet or 1 1/8 teaspoons
370 g water, at room temperature 1¾ cups
grapeseed oil

1. Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer—do it by hand, using the dough hook like a spoon. Continue stirring by hand as you add the water, mixing for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together into a shaggy mass.
2. Engage the bowl and hook and have the machine mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes, or until the ball of dough is smoother and more cohesive. Then knead for 4 more minutes on the lowest speed. The dough should look like a wet ball and should bounce back softly when prodded.
3. Brush a large bowl with oil and dump the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Liquid Cheesecake
makes about 325 g (1 ½ cup)

225g cream cheese 8 ounces
150 g sugar ¾ cup
6g cornstarch 1 tablespoon
2g kosher salt ½ teaspoon
25 g milk 2 tablespoons
1 egg

1. Heat the oven to 300°F.
2. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 2 minutes until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.
4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry and paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Line the bottom and sides of a 6 x 6-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour the batter into the pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.
6. Cool the liquid cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Refrigerate before using in the cinnamon bun pie!

Cinnamon Streusel
makes about 120 g (2/3 cup)

40 g flour ¼ cup
20 g old-fashioned rolled oats ¼ cup
2g ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
1 g kosher salt ¼ teaspoon
30 g light brown sugar 2 tablespoons
25 g butter, melted 2 tablespoon
0.5 g vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon salt and brown sugar with a spoon or spatula. Pour in the melted butter and vanilla and toss until almond-size dark oat clusters form.
2. If you’re making the pie the same day, the streusel can wait out on the counter. If you’re making the streusel in advance, transfer it to an airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hawaiian Bread

I'm feeling much better than last post, which was pretty mopey. I apologize; I don't want this place to be full of negativity. But I also don't want to hide my emotions. It's about striking a balance, I suppose. So...let me tell you about my job. I'm a real baker now. Not that I haven't always been real, but you know what I mean. I get up between 4 and 5 in the morning and start whipping out scones, biscuits, and muffins. It's fast paced, time sensitive, and I love it.

A part of me can't believe that I'm doing what I've wanted to do for so long. My dreams are coming true. And yeah, it's been a lot of work, a lot of trawling through job postings and a lot of rejection. But I did it. And now, I feel like I can take on the world. 

I don't bake bread at work (maybe in the future?), but I make a lot of it at home. We go through it pretty quickly, which I love, because it means I can make lots of different kinds. Hawaiian bread is easy, lightly sweet, and makes killer hamburger/sandwich buns. Or, if you're like me, toast it and break out your secret Biscoff stash. It's worth it. 

Hawaiian Bread
(This amount made a smallish loaf and 6 rolls) 

4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon ginger
2/3 teaspoon vanilla
2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes yeast
1/3 cup butter, melted

Beat the eggs. Add the pineapple juice, sugar, ginger, vanilla, and butter.
Place flour. Stir in the egg mixture until well-combined. Sprinkle in the yeast, one packet at a time, and mix. Blending with a spoon will be hard, so you may have to use your hands. Make sure it is thoroughly combined. Alternatively...use a stand mixer. The dough will be soft and kind of sticky.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Place in greased and floured loaf pans or shape into rolls. Cover and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or golden brown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rhubarb Syrup

Sorry for the gap in posting. I shouldn't let this get pushed to the wayside. I have been one of two things these past two weeks: incredibly busy and sleep deprived, or in that awful, fidgety yet also completely paralyzed by anxiety phase. I'm leveling out now. I have a part time job (more on that in a different post) and I'm learning to navigate the area. And forcing myself to get out of the house more. Soon I will be more comfortable here. 

I'll keep this one short, with the promise that I will post again later this week. A friend offered to bring me some rhubarb, and I'm not going to turn down someone giving me ingredients to mess around with, even if I'm not a huge fan. Rhubarb is too tart and stringy for me to normally enjoy, but making it into a syrup just leaves the delicious parts. Add this to club soda/seltzer for a super refreshing soda, or use it as a mixer for a cocktail.

Rhubarb Syrup 

10 oz chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. When the mixture boils, turn down the heat and simmer it for 10-12 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl/whatever vessel you want to keep it in. Press on the rhubarb chunks with a spoon to make sure you get all the liquid out. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Brazo de Mercedes

Moving is hard. I've never actually picked up my life and moved, at least not in this way. I've lived in a dorm and a different country, but I've never had to pay bills, set up internet, or set up a piece of IKEA furniture (it SUCKS). This is more...permanent. Real. It can be scary, and a little bit lonely (I'm so glad I have my roommate), but I have people who really care about me in my life. Transitions will never stop being difficult. So I just have to wait and let time settle things down. 

That up there is my kitchen. It's not the biggest or flashiest, but it belongs to me. I can put whatever I want in the cabinets, I can make sure it stays clean. So I think it's wonderful. I didn't get a chance to bake in it until last night, since I've been running around crazy like a headless chicken, trying to get my life in order. I went straight home and packed immediately after graduation, and made the drive up here after a week. 2 SUVs full of stuff, 5 hours on the road, and 3 trips to IKEA later, things are finally resembling normal. 

Before I left, I wanted to give myself a baking challenge. I'd never made a rolled dessert before, and had a bunch of eggs that needed to be used, so I found this recipe for Brazo de Mercedes on Jun-blog (check him out, he takes great photos!). Brazo de Mercedes is a Filipino dessert comprised of a layer of sticky sweet meringue rolled around vanilla custard. I was so pleased that nothing went horribly wrong--rolling cakes isn't so bad! I especially enjoyed my slice cold, straight from the freezer.

Keep your eyes peeled for posts from my new kitchen! 

Brazo de Mercedes 
from Jun-blog

For the custard
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
8 egg yolks

For the meringue
10 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the condensed milk, butter, vanilla extract and water in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until well combined, about 5 minutes. Beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. Place the mixing bowl over a double boiler over low heat. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the yolks, stirring to prevent curdling over low heat until the mixture has the consistency of a custard. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Line a 14 x 16 in cookie sheet with greased parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. make the meringue by beating the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the meringue forms stiff peaks. It is important not to overmix the meringue. Then gently fold in the vanilla extract.
Spread the meringue evenly on the lined cookie sheet to form a 1/4-in thick layer. Tread a cake decorating comb lightly on the surface of the meringue to create a ridge pattern. Bake in the preheated oven until browned, about 20 minutes or until the meringue has set.
Remove the meringue from the oven and invert it onto another sheet of greased parchment paper. Peel away the parchment paper on the top and spread the custard evenly on top of the cooked meringue. Roll it carefully to form a log. Brush the top of the log with softened butter and brown again in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the log from the oven and slice thinly.