Monday, June 11, 2012

Brioche raisin snails

I love pastries, and that is undeniable!  Not just simply eating them but especially baking them. Although the experience that I have with baking is very limited, I have always dreamed of opening a pastry shop myself. I know I still have much to learn, and a lot more to see in the pastry world. But, nevertheless, my passion for baking is just as great as the love that I have for cooking. 
One of my all-time-favorite pastry is this raisin croissant. It is not only my favorite, but my sons also adore it very much. We usually get them at a Korean pastry store called "Paris baguette" whenever we go down to Orange County to visit our families. The buttery, flaky texture of the croissant in combination with the plumped raisin and creamy custard filling makes my breakfast, with a cup of coffee, a little trip to heaven. 
I have been searching for a perfect recipe to recreate this delectable sweet without much success, until recently when I stumbled upon one that looks and sounds very close to what I have been looking for. The original recipe was calling for the brioche dough, not croissant dough. But since they both are somewhat related due to the requirement for a large sum of butter, I thought it would be very close to what I've yearned to duplicate from my kitchen. And since brioche is one of my favorite bread, I was really excited to give this recipe a try. My oldest son stayed up with me until almost midnight to wait for the fresh treat coming out from the oven. He could hardly wait for them to cool down on the cookie rack before gulping down almost two himself in the middle of the night. The aroma of the bread while being baked was so irresistible, it made me want to devour one myself.
Before we get started, I will be honest with you that the recipe may, in fact, look intimidating and complicated, but with some patience and a little passion for baking, the result is definitely well worth it.

1. Golden brioche dough:
Ingredients (Original source from Brown eye baker, thank you for sharing your delicious recipe)

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook.  Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.


2. Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk– this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly–as I always do–put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

3. Brioche raisin snails:
1 cup of raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves (from #1), chilled and ready to shape
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (from #2)

Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the raisins in a small bowl of hot water, add the rum and soak the raisin for a couple hours until plumped up

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
On a flour dusted surface, roll the refrigerated dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder.)

With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they’re ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.
Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume–they’ll be puffy and soft–about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake: When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you’re using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

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