Monday, November 21, 2011
Raspberry Braid and Cinnamon Rolls
It's always nice to have a basic sweet dough recipe in your files. This one is rich and buttery, but easy to work with, and lends itself to many variations. I used half of the dough to make a raspberry braid with a streusel topping and the other half for cinnamon rolls. Thanksgiving is only three days away; after which begins a month of cooking, shopping, socializing, gift-wrapping and decorating for the holiday season. A batch of sweet dough can come in handy when you need a freshly-baked bread for a breakfast or brunch table. In the preface to the recipe below, the author, Beth Hensperger, writes, "A good all-purpose sweet dough has a place in every baker's repertoire, as all sweet doughs are minor variations of the same basic proportions, though the fillings and shapes will vary. As this bread bakes, the kitchen will fill with a delicate perfume." Here are two variations of sweet yeast dough.
Sweet Yeast Dough ( from "Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions" by Beth Hensperger)
*(This dough requires an overnight rise in the refrigerator)*
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 F)
1 1/4 cups warm milk (105 to 115 F)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces.
To prepare the sponge: In a large bowl, using a whisk, or in the workbowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, sugar, water, milk, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat hard until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes, until bubbly.
Add the eggs, zest, salt, sugar, and 1 cup more of the flour to the sponge.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, shiny, and soft, about 2 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to prevent sticking. It is important that the dough remain very soft and pliable.
2 cups fresh or unthawed frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or fruit liqueur, such as framboise
1/2 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine all the filling ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the fruit juices are thick, stirring occasionally and gently to keep the berries as whole as possible. Take care not to let it scorch. The mixture will be quite thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To prepare the streusel: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, zest, cinnamon, and flour. Cut in the butter pieces until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one 1/2 of the chilled dough to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Transfer to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and even out the rectangular shape. Spread half the raspberry filling down the center of the rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut diagonal strips at 2 inch intervals down the outside portions of the dough, almost through to the filling.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. (You can prepare both pieces of dough as Raspberry Braids or make twelve cinnamon rolls as you will see in the instructions below). Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F. Sprinkle the surface of the plait(s) with the streusel. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the pan to cool completely on a rack.
Raspberry Braid ready for the oven.
Now for the cinnamon rolls: On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the remaining half of the chilled dough to an approximately 12x18 inch rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle 2/3 cup lightly packed golden brown sugar, 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, and 2/3 cup raisins or coarsely chopped dried cherries over the dough rectangle, leaving a small border at the sides.
Roll the dough, from the long side, into a tight cylinder. Cut with a sharp knife into 12 equal-sized rolls and arrange in a well-greased 9x13 inch pan.
Enjoy these sweet treats with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and have a Happy Thanksgiving!