Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Ridiculously Delicious Challenge - Stage 2

I advanced to stage 2 of Marx Food's Ridiculously Delicious Challenge! Each of us that advanced were sent a mystery box containing eight ingredients. We have to use two of them in this recipe. I chose an unlikely pair: saffron threads and dried tart cherries.

While researching saffron I came across a Swedish tradition called Lucia Buns. These are rolls, laced with saffron, baked during the feast of St. Lucia, on December 13th. The rolls are traditionally formed into an "S" or a cross of two "S" shapes and studded with currants or raisins. I chose to replace the traditional dried fruit with the dried tart cherries.

I started with a plain yeast roll recipe and worked from there.

1/2 cup warm water
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp saffron threads
5 cups flour

1 egg
2 Tbsp water
handful of dried tart cherries

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water and yeast. Let sit a few minutes to dissolve and start to foam. Next, add the boiling water, cold water, and melted butter to the mixer, beating on low. Beat the egg and add that to the mixer with the salt.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and the saffron threads. Using the back of a spoon, grind the saffron threads against the abrasive sugar. Work them together for a few minutes, breaking the saffron up until it becomes fragrant and mixes throughout the sugar. (A mortar and pestle can be used here if you have one.) Add this to the stand mixer.

Now, 1/2 cup at a time, gradually add the flour. The dough will be sticky and start to pull away from the side of the bowl. Let run for a few minutes on low speed until the dough gets a shiny, smooth look and is very elastic.

Oil a large bowl and turn the dough out into it. Let it rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until doubled in size. Punch down.

Form into 12-14 balls. With floured hands, roll each one into a cord about 8-9" long. Shape onto a greased baking sheet in the shape of an "S."

Mix the second egg with a couple tablespoons of water and beat. Brush lightly onto the tops of the rolls. Stud the center of each curl in with a dried cherry or two. Let rise another 30-60 minutes.

Bake in a 400° oven for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. Delicious eaten warm.

Johnny and I could barely wait for these to get off of the baking sheet to try them! They poufed up so beautifully, I was actually really proud of myself. This is my first success with baking rolls! I've never been able to get any results better than dried out, hard pucks.

The insides were speckled with a fantastic bright yellow from the saffron. I would say that the saffron's presence in the roll was more of an aromatic experience, tasted through the sinuses and the back of the throat, versus a strong flavor on the tongue. I loved the tart cherries on the top, it was a startling sour, chewy treat on an otherwise fluffy cloud of comfort.

I'm glad I didn't wait for December 13th to make these! Johnny and I will be enjoying them for breakfast and snacks for a few days.

Voting for the Ridiculously Delicious Challenge will be held March 1-4th. If you like my recipe, I will post links and tweet when it is time for you to vote!


Laura said...

ohhh these look so fantastic! I'm so proud of you for stepping out there and doing something you haven't done before. Go little sister!

Christina said...

Thanks Laura!! I have been nervous all night making them! I was so glad they rose and poufed like they did! I'm proud of myself too!

Simply Life said...

wow! you took on this challenge and were SO successful! These belong in a bakery storefront! Nice work!

Kim at Coffee Pot Chronicles said...

Wow! Well done Christina!

I have yet to attempt anything involving bread but my curiosity is getting piqued even more seeing people being more willing to try it. Congrats on the success with your rolls!

Christo Gonzales said...

mmmmm these look and sound so good - they seem like a mix of both worlds as they seem neither overly sweet nor overly savory - I know what I would do and it involves a lot of slathered butter.

Anonymous said...

Wow--these looks poofy and perfect in every way. I love the picture that shows the yellow-tinted insides. It looks so tender . . . I just want to bite into it!!

Unknown said...

ooh, love the saffron-cherry combo, and with homemade bread, can't be beat!

Donna Currie said...

So pretty! I love baking breads, and these are quite tempting. It looks like a lot of us used those dried cherries in this round - interesting that with so many choices, these came up so often. Good luck with the contest!

Leslie Uhl said...

I didn't know about Lucia buns before, but now that I do I will have to make them. I love your combo of the saffron and cherries! They look delicious!
Looking forward to your next 8x10!