Last week we finished off tarts, quick breads and laminated doughs. I baked a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread, but forgetting that convection ovens can cook a little faster, it got a little bit browner than I usually bake. No worries- at least I have learned more basic things about quick/loaf breads, and that the dry ingredients should be added to the wet ingredients just to the point of everything coming together- overmixing will cause gluten development, which is not desirable with quick breads, and you won't get a light, delicate texture.
The real excitement of last week was....cinnamon rolls!!! These were absolutely delicious. I can't remember the last time I had a cinnamon roll, let alone one so yummy. This was a definite out of control evening....more cinnamon rolls flew into my tummy than necessary. C'est la vie!
Cinnamon rolls would be one of those things that I would bake, and then not be able to watch people eat. A batch of them would be gone in seconds. And while that is the point in baking something, I would still be screaming in my head- don't you know how long those took to make?! Try breathing between bites!!
Anyways, these will take some practice for me, if I would ever be interested in making them in a make believe bakery I will own some day.
It starts with laminated dough. All that this term means is that you prepare a pastry dough, roll it out, and layer (or laminate) it with fat. It's really important to have an even, consistent combination of fat and dough that will cause expansion and create a flaky texture as an end result. This procedure is used with croissants, puff pastries and danishes. Again, we practiced this technique with cinnamon rolls.
Initially, I followed a simple danish dough recipe, which included yeast, and allowed the dough to rise for awhile. Then I rolled it out to the size of a large sheet tray and let it refrigerate over night, to relax the gluten, or protein, that was developed while mixing. Gluten is a protein that develops during bread or dough development when flour and water are mixed, and it gives the dough elasticity.
The next day I rolled my dough out, trying to get it as close to an even rectangle as possible, so I could spread the butter on one half of the dough. This step is called lock-in. Once the butter is evenly on one side of the dough, you do a single fold and fold the dough in on itself- this type of fold doubles the number of layers in the pastry. After this fold, you refrigerate before the next fold.
Basically, all that's left now is lots of waiting for the dough to relax under refrigeration, alternated between folding the dough into layers. The reasoning behind the layers is that, while baking your dough, the fat will melt between the layers. When the fat melts, this will create pockets in the dough where released steam from the moisture in the dough acts to rise the dough. As the steam rises, the dough will expand and rise, and the remaining fat will "fry" the dough so that the air spaces are retained.
And so, you start folding away.
The above picture comes from this website here, which has one of the best pictures I found for a four fold, even though this site is describing a puff pastry. What this does is quadruples the amount of layers of pastry dough that you started with. Visualizing your rolled out dough into quarters, you first fold the two quarters to meet in the middle. Then you fold the two halves like a book.
It didn't occur to me at the time to take pictures along the way, since I was a tad bit frustrated with this process.
Anyways, after the single fold and four fold, let the dough rest under refrigeration again. Then we proceeded with 2 three folds, in between refrigeration again. This would be just like folding a letter into an envelope- eyeball the dough into thirds, then fold one third over the middle, and the other end of the dough over that. Every time you do a fold, the next time you fold, you should rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll in the opposite direction.
Now I was finally ready to make the cinnamon rolls! After rolling out the last three fold, I divided that into two pieces and rolled them out one at a time. This was difficult for me- I'm pretty sure I didn't fold my dough in opposite directions each time, or maybe I didn't let enough time pass between foldings. Either way, my dough was hard to work with.
I finally came up with this. Theoretically, the dough probably should had been rolled into a bigger rectangle, which would had made the dough thinner. I brushed egg wash over my dough and sprinkled on a hefty portion of cinnamon and sugar.
Then I rolled it on up, and cut into pieces.
I'll need to work on my pretty factor here. But the taste didn't skip a beat in the deliciousness department!
See?! No wonder people just buy the dough ready to go in the can...this will take ya forever! But well, well worth it! ;-)
Now go get into the kitchen and make some!