Last week, I joined Tuesdays with Dorie, an online baking group committed to making one recipe a week from the same cookbook: “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan. My first assignment? Brioche Raisin Snails.
After a night spent making the lovely, buttery dough and Dorie’s pastry cream, I spent the next morning lost in rolling, shaping and baking the snails. And since I couldn’t let the other half of the brioche dough go to waste, I prepped a quick batch of Dorie’s Pecan Honey Sticky Buns.
A bounty such as this must be shared. As soon as the snails were glazed, I packed them, along with the still-rising sticky buns, and drove the 45 minutes to my parents’ house.
I had an ulterior motive. My mother always has a crockpot of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. I baked the sticky buns there and also left some snails. She sent me home with all the makings for the World’s Best Reubens. So good, my pup curled himself around the package of corned beef nestled in the backseat and slept all the way home.And the sharing continues. I sent Jeff to work with the rest of the snails and sticky buns this morning. All that’s left are the memories, the smell (oh, the smell!), and a sink full of dishes.
Well worth it.
Brioche Raisin Snails
From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
- 1 cup moist, plump raisins
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)
- 1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (see below)
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- About 1 teaspoon water
- Drop of pure vanilla extract
- Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
- Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stir until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum can be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
- On a flour dusted surface, roll the 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.
- 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.
- 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 to a cooling rack.
- To Glaze The Snails: Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and stir in the teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.
Golden Brioche Loaves
- 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
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 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, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, 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 (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), 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.
- At this point, your dough is ready for making either the Brioche Raisin Snails or the Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. To make the Golden Brioche Loaves, continue to 6.
- The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pans.
- Pull the dough from the fridge, and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time will depend on how warm the room is.)
- Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- To Make The Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
- Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again, and cool for at least 1 hour.
- 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.