Roses Alpha Bakers: Rum Raisin French Toast Royale p.440

One of the things that should be in the “must to do list”, should include making home made bread. You get to enjoy and watch how four simple ingredients become one of most loved foods. Sure you get to follow so many steps, and it might take a couple of days to make, but the final product is so rewarding.

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Rose’s Alpha Baker: Caramel Buns P.470

Caramel Buns

I have never tried caramel buns, but years ago I tried her known sister “the cinnamon kind” with the cream cheese icing and wasn’t a big fan of that either. I love the bun by itself, but I never could brings my- self to eat that much of sugar.

The recipe, which takes a couple days, is very straight forward and easy to follow. Brioche is one of my favorite dough’s to make, but don’t let the “stickiness” and all the stages deceive you because after all, brioche is very simple to make.

The first step is making a starter. I made a little change to the recipe and replaced the Instant yeast with baker’s yeast. If you have never worked with “baker’s yeast” or otherwise known as “fresh yeast”, you might want to give it a chance next time. It gives a great aroma to the dough and creates much depth of flavor. Fresh yeast has a little down side, which like its name, it does not last as long as instant yeast. It also does not like cold ingredients, and unfortunately your only chance to get your hands on some in the US is to ask your local bakery to sell you some. To replace instant yeast with fresh yeast, simply multiply by 3 the amount that is required by the recipe. If you are not sure, there are so many great websites that will calculate it for you, or if you own “The Bread Bible”, Rose instructs how to convert any yeast with each other (The Bread Bible P. 562). For the starter and the dough, I used the recommended replacement, half bread flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour (both were organic brands). When the dough is finally ready, you send it off to get some beauty sleep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Baker Yeast

The day of the Baking, I started with soaking raisins in hot water and dark rum for an hour. When the raisins are ready, then it’s time to shape the dough. I had a little difficulty with that since I just lightly floured my counter…should have known from past experience that I should have floured the counter a little bit more.

I forgot to add the raisins after I sprinkled the dough with the sugar mixture, and only realized that after I finished to roll up the dough, so Rose instructed to push down any raisins that pop out…well I did push some raisins as much I could (See picture below). I then arranged the cut-out buns in a 9” pan with a mason jar in the middle and sent them to the oven with the light on and two cups with hot water to help with the rising.

Pushed raisins

While the buns were baking, I made the caramel bun glaze. Needless to say, the aroma throughout the house was similar to walking outside a bakery which made it even more difficult to wait for a taste! I pulled out the buns, and the first challenge was to release the buns from the foil. So then with a wire rack pressed against the bun, I flipped them onto the rack pulling slowly to remove the foil from the buns, and then carefully inverted them back. While the buns were still hot, I then glazed the buns , and couldn’t hold myself…and I took one out to taste…It was so soft, fluffy and the brown sugar created an under layer of caramel crunch that complimented the pecans. It was near perfect if only I didn’t forget to add the raisins! With that said, I couldn’t help but wonder why I would want to ruin such a perfect bun by adding caramel to it.

Buns without the soft sticky caramel

Regardless, I went on to prepare the soft sticky caramel. It’s a very easy process that requires attention to the steps. I replaced the corn syrup with brown rice syrup. I did not research if I could replace the corn syrup with the latter, but I had a good experience with it in the past making other goodies that required corn syrup, or when I just wanted to reduce the glycemic value in my baking (granola is a great example). Thankfully it worked wonderfully with the caramel and gave me the same results as if I were to use corn syrup.

Brown Rice Syrup

As you’ve probably already guessed, I couldn’t allow myself to try the caramel buns, but I was very pleased with the ones without it. I will next time (aside from not forgetting to add the raisins) make more of the caramel bun glaze. Those who did try the caramel buns absolutely love it…well they must have because nothing is left on the kitchen counter… I will defiantly repeat the recipe if I really love you, but will leave the caramel out.

Caraml Buns

Rose’s Alpha Baker: ‘Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread’ P.488

Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

In honor of the Jewish holiday “Tu b’shevat’, this week’s project is “Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread”’. But before we run to wear our aprons and work some dough, what is Tu B’shevat?

Tu B’shevat is the new year of the trees, and it is celebrated on a full moon or the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat. The 15th letter in Hebrew is ‘TU’ hence the holiday name. It is a minor festival that has gained importance in the last  decade as an environmental holiday. In Israel it is celebrated as the Jewish Arbor Day and reminds us about the return to the land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. God instructed the Jews to revive the land and plant trees, fruits, vegetables, and grain.

The holiday is usually celebrated by eating the fruit of the trees and vines that grow in Israel, such as almonds, apples, apricots, figs, grapes, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, olives and pomegranates. Also, God prohibited Jews from eating the fruit from trees within the first three years after planting. This practice ensures that the trees will mature, bear fruit, and live a long life. As a kid, our school would take us to a bare land, usually around Jerusalem, and we would plant trees. This experience made it very unique to know that I had contributed, in a little way, to my Country (Israel).

When all my Brothers and Sisters would come back home, my Mom would make a plate full of goodies that the land had to offer that year, which would include fresh and dried fruit that are in season. We would also enjoy many types of raw nuts, and we would sit and feast.

This TU B’SHEVT I am happy to offer a new addition to our Family traditional fruit and nut plate.

As I mentioned above, this is a project that took me five days. For a maximum flavor experience, Rose recommends to let the Biga and the Bread dough after prepared to rest for couple of days in the refrigerator.But don’t let the time be a decision factor to ever bake bread. Yeah it does require some time, and yeah there are a few steps, but most of the job is done hands-free…meaning you let the dough rest most of the time, either in the refrigerator or resting to proof. Don’t miss out on the experience of a house filled with a fresh baked deliciousness. So let’s get started, we have a lot to do…

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