PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: MOTHER’S DAY PANCAKES

It’s my turn again to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen, and this time I chose Mother’s Day Pancakes. I could eat breakfast food for every meal of every day, and pancakes are my absolute favorite breakfast food.
I’ve tried over and over again to make perfect, fluffy pancakes on my own, and I’m just not very good at it. These pancakes turned out pretty darn good, though. I had some brown bananas that I needed to use, so I used the “Rather Sweet Variation” and added banana and mini chocolate chips to my pancakes. The kids scarfed them, and I really liked them too. The banana and chocolate chips made them feel more like a dessert than breakfast, which is probably why the kids liked them so much. I think this is a great pancake recipe, and I will be trying it again soon without the add-ins.  I am posting the original recipe for those of you who don’t want the add-ins, and I’ve included the banana chocolate chip pancake variation below. This recipe gives a range for the amount of buttermilk to use; if you want thicker pancakes use less buttermilk, and if you like thinner pancakes, use more.

Mother’s Day Pancakes

2 large eggs
3 1/2 to 4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
1 Tbsp. butter, for frying

Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; whisk until just incorporated. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Pour the batter into a pitcher. (At this point, the batter will keep for 2 to 3 days, covered and refrigerated). Set a griddle or frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Add some of the butter for frying; when it begins to foam, pour some of the batter into the pan to make pancakes of whatever size you wish. When the bubbles form on top of the pancakes, flip them and cook until the bottoms are golden brown. Serve immediately.

To make chocolate chip banana pancakes, mash 2 ripe  bananas or cut them into 1/4 inch slices and stir them into the batter. Cook as directed above. To make chocolate banana pancakes, stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips with the bananas. Your kids will love them.

Source: The Pastry Queen

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: JAILHOUSE POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS

This week, I got to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen: jailhouse potato cinnamon rolls. The reason I chose this recipe was that I wanted to compare them to the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls that I make all the time. Lucky for me, we had food day at work on Friday, so I had a place to take them because if they had remained in my house, I would have gained 10 pounds and my kids would be on a constant sugar high. I kept a couple of smaller pans at the house for the kiddos, and they have not lasted long. These rolls are so soft and sweet and decadent.

I think the texture is not very different from the Pioneer Woman’s rolls, but these are a little more involved to make because you have the extra step of making the mashed potatoes. Of course, the icing is different too, but I changed it up a bit and doubled the amount, using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as inspiration. My changes are noted below in the recipe but I included the original recipe below as well. I asked a lot of people at work which recipe they preferred.

Some said they couldn’t tell the difference, and others said that they found these rolls to be more moist and still others said they like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe better. I think it’s a toss up as far as taste goes. These are absolutely delicious and are worth the work for a special occasion.

As everyone else in the PPQ group has said, the dough for these rolls is a pain in the rear end to work with. It is very wet and soft and falls apart easily. I always preheat my oven for a minute or so and then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise, since my kitchen is quite drafty. That was a big mistake with this dough.

When I went to check on it at about 45 minutes into the rise time, the dough had exploded all over my oven. I had put it in a very large bowl to rise, but when it reached the top, it just started spilling over the edges. It was everywhere! I probably lost about 1/4 of the dough. Even so, I ended up with 4 dozen cinnamon rolls from one recipe (double what the recipe says you’ll get). My advice to make the dough easier to handle is to really flour your work surface, hands, rolling pin, and dough as you work with it.

It really tries to fall apart when you roll it up, so be careful not to roll it out too thin to begin with. (I realized as I typed the recipe that it says to chill the dough and I did not do that. Maybe that’s why it was so hard to work with?) I really liked these rolls but I think I prefer making the Pioneer Woman’s rolls better, just because they are less time consuming and the dough is easier to handle.

When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make them in the evening and bake them the next morning. I have found that once you get the rolls cut and in the pans, you can cover and refrigerate the pans overnight and the rolls will actually rise most of the way in the refrigerator.

I pull them out and put them on the counter about 20 to 30 minutes before I’m ready to bake them. This always works like a charm and I don’t have to wait for the second rise time. Thanks to the Project Pastry Queen girls for letting me choose the recipe this week!


Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
Reserve 3 c. of potato water
1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
3/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. salt
9 c. flour

Filling:
4 c. toasted pecans, optional (I didn’t use them)
4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted

Icing:
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter, melted

Butter two 9X13 disposable foil pans by greasing using butter or Pam (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 4). Wash, peel and dice the potatoes and boil until fork tender. After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Add the flour 3 cups at a time. After the dough begins to get thick, switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day. You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.

With floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface and divide in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread each rectangle with half the butter. Then half the brown sugar mix. Then half the chopped pecans.

Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough. Using a very sharp floured serated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan. At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in polastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point. Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.

Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.

*I changed the icing substantially. The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: TEXAS BIG HAIRS ALMOND TARTS

This week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe was chosen by Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago. I liked this recipe because it was easy to adjust to make smaller or larger portions. I halved the recipe and prepared it in a 6 inch springform pan because I didn’t need more than one tart. This was a great exercise in “using what you have” for me, because I made a lot of changes based on what was in my pantry. I used almonds instead of hazlenuts, almond extract instead of Frangelico, vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, and I had to make my own powdered sugar, because I was out. (To make powdered sugar, place 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a blender, and blend until the sugar is powdered. So easy!)

This tart is very, very rich. I think it would be fun to experiment with different types of chocolate, because the bittersweet was a bit bitter. The marshmallow flavor in the meringue was a good balance for the bittersweet chocolate, though. Cut yourself a tiny sliver, and it will be plenty to satisfy a craving for something sweet. I posted my version of the full recipe below. for the original recipe, visit Joelen’s site.

 

Texas Big Hairs Almond Tarts

Crust:
1/3 c. almonds
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature + more for greasing pans
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. flour

Ganache:
1 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Meringue:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar

To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With your fingers, butter four 4 3/8-inch, 1-cup capacity tartlet pans, using about 1 generous tablespoon softened unsalted butter total.

Arrange the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. (Alternatively, you can place them in a dry nonstick skillet and toast the hazelnuts on the stovetop.) Chop the almonds and set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the almond extract and salt. Gradually add the flour and combine on low speed until just incorporated. Add the almonds and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide into 4 equal portions, and press into the prepared pans, making sure the dough comes up to the top edge of the pans. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. (Don’t worry if the tart bottoms look wrinkly.) At this point, the crusts can be cooled and stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

To make the ganache:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, salt and vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Spoon the ganache into the tart shells, dividing it evenly among them. Refrigerate the tarts at least 30 minutes, or until the ganache is set.

To make the meringue:
Set a the perfectly clean bowl of your mixer over a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg whites and sugar. (Note: if there is a trace of fat in the bowl, the eggs won’t reach their proper volume.) Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all the sugar grains have melted and dissolved. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; then increase the speed to high and whisk for 5 more minutes, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler. Pile the meringue on top of the cooled tarts, being sure to seal each tart by spreading the meringue to the edge of the pan. Style the meringe with your fingers by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes. (For those who don’t like the hands on approach, shape the meringue with the back of a spoon.)

Broil the tarts until the meringue turns golden brown. Watch the tarts carefully, as they can turn from browned to burned in a matter of seconds. (If you are using a kitchen torch, hold it 2-3 inches away from the meringue until it is browned all over.) The tarts should be served the day they are assembled.

*I halved the recipe and prepared one tart, using a 6-inch springform pan.

Source: The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather