Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TWD: Brioche Raisin Snails

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody: Brioche Raisin Snails. I think Dorie probably put it best; she says "there's something about the plump little swirls--the buttery brioche dough, the silky pastry cream, the rum-soaked raisins--that makes them impossibly good and impossible to enjoy in moderation."

This was my first time making brioche. To be quite honest, I didn't really know what brioche was until I entered the food blogging community! (Yes, I am still very much a young and blossoming foodie.) Brioche is a rich but delicate French bread that almost tastes like a pastry. It is a yeast bread that is enriched with butter and eggs. You need to plan ahead when making this recipe. The brioche needs to be refrigerated overnight, and the pastry cream needs to be chilled for several hours.

Brioche is made with butter, and I wasn't sure if I had messed up the recipe when I let my butter get too soft. It's supposed to be at room temperature, but still firm, when added to the dough. I set my butter out a little early, and by the time I was adding it in, my butter was quite soft. Thankfully, this didn't seem to affect my brioche, as it still came out wonderfully.

I have to admit that I was a little frightened of scorching my hand when it came to flambéeing the raisins. I had never done it before, and all I had were regular, short matchsticks. Instead of using a saucepan, I decided to use a sauté pan instead, so I could easily reach over the edge of the pan instead of having my hand down into a saucepan when the flames came up. I very slowly brought my lit match towards the rum soaked raisins and poof! There were blue flames everywhere as the raisins were flambéed! Even though I knew it was going to ignite, I still jumped back a little, startled by the flames coming up. I used a damp wooden spoon to stir the raisins while the flames burned off the alcohol. It was actually kind of fun, and now I know I don't need to be quite so scared of doing it.

These were so good. The brioche had a light, buttery texture, and the pastry cream wasn't too sweet. The flavor of the rum in the raisins was more pronounced than I expected it to be, but in a good way. I was initially planning on glazing these, but they were perfect as is.

I love that you can freeze these and just bake them as needed. This recipe only requires half of the brioche recipe, but Dorie does not recommend halving it. Instead, you can use it to make Dorie's Pecan Honey Sticky Buns, or freeze it for later use. I opted to just make up a double batch of brioche raisin snails (I was that confident I would love them) and freeze a bunch. I love that whenever I get a craving for them now, I can just grab a few out of the freezer and pop them in the oven :)

Thanks Peabody, for picking this week's recipe. While it wasn't my first time working with yeast, it was my first time making brioche! I will definitely be making these again. Make sure you check out the blogroll on the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see what everyone else thought of these sweet, buttery treats!

Brioche Raisin Snails
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

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) - recipe below
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448) - recipe below

For The Optional Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready:
Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

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.)

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

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.)

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.

Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubled in volume--they'll be puffy and soft--about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake:
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.

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) (I only baked mine 15 minutes before they were perfectly golden), 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
3-3/4 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:
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.

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 (I never put my KA on anything higher than speed 4, since I was worried something horrible would happen - KA does not recommend using it on speeds higher than 2 with the dough hook). 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 (again, I only did this on speed 4) and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

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.

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.

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

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

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

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.

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.


  1. They look wonderful!! I LOVE your pics of the flaming raisins!! Great job!!

  2. Great job!!! Way to get in there and torch those raisins.
    Glad you were devirginized from the world of brioche.

  3. Great pictures and very tasty looking snails!!

  4. Lovely, lovely snails! I love the color you got on yours. I didn't think the rum came through much at all but they were delicious all the same. Great job!

  5. They look great! And I love the pictures of the blue flames!

  6. I love it how this recipe brings so many different aspects to baking.
    These look delicious, Jaime - so tender!

  7. You have more of those ready to bake? Really? Can I come over??? I'll be your laundry slave for more!

  8. These look soooo good!! Wonderful job.

  9. Beautiful Jaime! I love all the photos too, especially the raisins!!! Was my first time with brioche too, but it will definitely not be my last. It is sinfully good stuff.

  10. These look wonderful! Definitely on my "To Bake" list! Thanks!

  11. They look soooo good !! and your pictures are so nice

  12. Your snails look great and I love how you were able to capture the flaming raisins! I almost burnt my face doing those babies, but it was worth it!

  13. Looks so good, just like the one we get here from the bakers. I am sure it tasted heavenly and the aroma while it was baking yummm

  14. I'm so jealous that you got good shots of your flambéing raisins! Good job! I think you did fabulous for a girl who's all new to brioche.

  15. WHEE! look at those blue flames. Love the picture! Great job!

  16. Those are beautiful! The pictures of the flames are great!

  17. What a great post! I love all of your pictures; your snails turned out great!

  18. So glad it turned out well for you, and I LOVE the photos, especially the flaming raisins! Way to go!

  19. Beautiful pictures! I'm so impressed that you got pictures of the flaming raisins. Your snails look great!

  20. These look wonderful! I love how you took pictures of the process! I decided to freeze them and bake them when I want them too- that way I don't have too much temptation lying around! :)

  21. I'm beginning to think I should have made two batches of snails instead of one. I froze the loaf but would rather have frozen extra snails.

  22. Those look so good! I have been wanting to try making a brioche for a while now. Great photos of the blue flames on the raisins!

  23. Best fire pics I've seen yet! NICE. Glad it all turned out for you. :)

  24. I love the flaming raisins pics! Looks great Jamie!

  25. Ooh, nice pictures, especially the flaming raisins. I liked the snails without glaze as well.

  26. Goodness, these photos are gorgeous! Inspiring.

  27. Great job! The raisin pics are beautiful. Thanks for the welcome!

  28. those look wonderful! welcome to the world of delicious brioche treats!

  29. I love the blue flame! They look awesome!

  30. these look fantastic! really yummy!

  31. I like that you have photos from the dough making and raisin flaming parts. I always forget to take pictures. Your snails look wonderful!

  32. Flaming raisins batgirl!!! The brioche, a steaming cup of coffee, it just takes me to my happy place. Imagine how happy I would be with a dozen or so.

  33. I was impressed at how smooth your brioche dough looked in the bowl! Nice job!

  34. Wow, your picture of the flaming raisins is great, and you snails look delicious!

    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  35. Oooh, lovely! These look delicious.

    Oh la la! Flambe! I've never tried that before.

  36. I love your pictures! I only managed to get one good shot of the flames before I went back to stirring them. I've started to cook with my camera sitting on the counter for photo-ops... As can be told by the slight flour residue on the grip.

  37. Love the pics of the raisins! I wish I had thought to wet my spoon when I flamed the raisins...it is a bit scorched now, but okay. Great job!

  38. Great job! I love your pics of the flambe!