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Seriously, if I could lean through the computer screen and kiss Peabody for this choice, I totally would!! Even though it took me an extra few days to get my act together and make last week’s TWD recipe (as I promised Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food that I would), I am proud to say that I completed the challenge…one that I think I was subconsciously dreading but that turned out absolutely wonderfully.

This Dorie recipe pushed my limits. It was one that incorporated two full recipes into one: brioche and pastry cream…and just for the sake of testing your skills, Dorie had you setting raisins on fire. So that’s right, all three of main ingredients were things I’ve never made before. The thought of making brioche flat-out terrified me. Pastry cream: while it looked simple enough, eggs and hot liquid does always work for me. And don’t get me started about the raisins: submerging them in rum then setting them on fire? Grrreaaat…

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I took the recipe slowly not wanting to overwhelm myself. I had a plan. Unfortunately, when I attempted to set the plan in motion on Saturday afternoon, I realized that I didn’t have enough flour so the plan would have to wait until after dinner. 8:30pm rolls around and dinner ran longer than I expected it to. I could have easily said screw it and flop on the couch but I HAD to make this recipe. So I got started late. I got working on the brioche and everything was moving along swimmingly when the motor on my KA mixer sounded like it was going to die – yes, that’s right – the mixer with the 450 watt motor that is supposed to be able to handle up to 6 loaves of bread or 7 pounds of mashed potatoes had trouble with 2 loaves of brioche dough. I was not a happy camper but turned down the speed and pressed on anyway. The rest of the dough process was fine – long but fine and at midnight after the last round of proofing, I went to bed.

The next morning (Easter) at 6:15am, I got started on the pastry cream and the raisins and was finished with both before Kyle rolled out of bed. No incidents to report other than when I turned my back on the boiling milk and it boiled over onto the stove; setting the raisins on fire was actually a lot of fun!! After church and breakfast, I assembled the brioche log: taking care to measure out the dough after rolling it, quickly spread the pastry cream on before I had another chance to eat more of it, sprinkled on the raisins and rolled it up. Yeah, I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top of the raisin – no biggie though as I sprinkled it on top of the rolled up snails after I cut them. Cutting them with a chef’s knife was an issue (even a well-sharpened one) so I used a serrated bread knife and it did a beautiful job. So off we went to do some holiday visiting while the snails proofed on the baking sheet and all I could think about was that the snails weren’t going to rise again. I almost panicked at one point but was able to talk myself down. It would all work out OK…I followed Dorie’s recipe to a T and she wouldn’t steer me wrong.

The snails rose and baked up perfectly and I couldn’t have been more pleased. They turned out absolutely delicious and after trying one or two :) with the glaze and one or two without the glaze later on, Kyle and I both decided that the glaze wasn’t necessary as it didn’t really add too much to the snails. We both just fell in love with this recipe and rather than making brioche bread with the extra 1/2 of the dough recipe, I might end up making more snails in a few weeks. :)

Thanks again to Peabody for a wonderful choice!

To see how the other TWDers did with this recipe, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blog – you’ll also see this week’s recipe as well, Caramel-Topped Flan, which I might attempt tonight. Be sure to check out Peabody’s blog for her special take on the Snails as well as for a myriad of other delectable delights.

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Last week’s TWD recipe: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake as chosen by Natalie of Burned Bits

This week’s TWD recipe: Caramel-Topped Flan as chosen by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon

Next week’s TWD recipe: Gooey Chocolate Cakes as chosen by Leigh of Lemon Tartlet

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Brioche Raisin Snails

source: Dorie Greenspan, 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(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)
  • 1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)

For The Optional Glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • About 1 teaspoon water
  • Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready:

  1. Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. 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. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)
  3. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
  4. 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. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Getting Ready To Bake:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 onto a cooling rack.

If You Want 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 a 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 3/3 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

For The Glaze

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
  6. Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the 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 with 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.

Pastry Cream

  • 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
  1. Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.