Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Baking Recap

I did a lot more baking than cooking this Thanksgiving. Although I love to cook, at get- togethers, it has become expected that I will bake. I certainly don't mind this, as I have grown to really enjoy baking over the last year.

Since R and I both have family in town, we often end up doing double duty on holidays. This year we had a Turkey Day brunch with R's family. Erica made a bunch of delicious savory food, so I went the other direction and made a huge pan full of brioche sticky buns. And, if I do say so myself, this was the best batch yet. I used the brioche dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I promise you don't want to ask how much butter, eggs, and honey is in it.

You start by whipping together butter and brown sugar and spreading it along the bottom of the pan. For my double batch we filled up a 9x15 pyrex baking dish. Then spread a handful or two of pecan halves around. The dough gets rolled out and spread with a mix of whipped butter and brown sugar with cinnamon and chopped toasted pecans. Roll the dough up, chill for a bit, and then slice into rounds. Arrange the rounds into the pan so they are just touching and fill the pan up. You can let them rise and bake immediately, but I usually get to this point, cover in cling wrap and put them into the fridge overnight. That way you can do all the prep work in the evening (or after the kids go to bed) and bake first thing in the morning. I think the slow, cold ferment also gives the dough a nice character. They come out soft, warm, gooey, and amazing.

That evening we had dinner at my mom's house with about 14 others. Again, I was on baking duty. This time I wanted to bring bread and some sort of dessert. I ended up making a loaf of crusty artisan semolina bread and a batch of pull-apart buttermilk rolls. For dessert I put together a pinenut tart that has always been a favorite of ours but one that we haven't had in quite a while.

The semolina loaf was also ABi5MaD, and therefore quite easy but delicous. The rolls were a new recipe I found at one of my favorite sites, The Fresh Loaf. Luckily there were several comments after the original recipe post that talked about needing to add extra moisture to the dough to make it workable. I would have been concerned because I, too, ended up adding quite a bit more buttermilk before I could work the dough well. Still, the dough was quite tough, almost like a bagel dough, so I was worried that the rolls would be too dense or tough. All in all they went together very easily, baked up beautifully, and were soft and delicious. We will definitely be making these again; they're tasty and have a fun presentation.

Finally, for dessert, we had the Pignoli Nut Tart that I have been making for years. It is wonderful to eat, and easy to make. It's a simple all butter pate sucree base, with an almond meal filling, baked half way, topped with pine nuts and then put bake in to finish baking. It is not too sweet, and great with a whipped cream and a drizzle of good honey.

It was a fun holiday spent with family, friends, and a lot of quality carbs.

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