This post is both a milestone and a watershed!
It is a milestone because it has been 1 year since Michelle kicked this whole adventure off with the First (unofficial) HB in 5 Post, which was also Pumpkin Pie Brioche. Kind of a nice symmetry. Kudos Michelle. (I looked back at My First (ever) Post. I notice that I was much more terse then.)
It is a watershed because, of the "official" posts, this is number 21 of 42--half way! It is all down hill from here.
You know, the English language is a funny thing, and it is interesting to me how easily simple words can be misunderstood. Last post I had a contest for a Morgan Shepherd Special Edition Ben's Mustard jar. It is funny how many people thought it would still have the mustard in it. But I ate that a long time ago.
Judy's Bakery and Test Kitchen, and I used my discretion to award Michelle a jar as a special Founder's Prize for getting and keeping this whole thing going. The jars will make lovely decorative accents for their kitchens.
On to the baking. Once again we were to make the Pumpkin Pie Brioche, which was fine with me because not only is it tasty, it is seasonal. I went old style on this one, and used an heirloom organic pie pumpkin I purchased at the Farmers' Market. I roasted it and then ran it through my potato ricer. It worked out fine. We were to make two breads with this: Pistachio Twist and Fruit-filled Pinwheels. Now I am the kind of guy who likes to use a belt sander to do the finish sanding. So these were a bit fussy for me.
I started with the Pistachio Twist, which required rose water. Really. Being in for a penny, I got an 8.8 ounce bottle of rose water. The recipe called for 2 1/2 teaspoons. Now there are 6 teaspoons in an ounce, so there are 52.8 teaspoons in my bottle of rosewater, which means that I have 50.3 teaspoons of the stuff left--enough to make 20 more batches of this bread. Who knows, by then I might get it right. And at least the stuff is not unhealthy--it has no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol and no calories. Speaking of calories, did you know that it takes about 2200 calories of energy to make a can of diet pop, which of course has no calories (and no nutritional value)?
Anyway, I started out fine with my Twist. I mixed up the filling, rolled out the dough, spread on the filling, and rolled it up. So far, so good.
But then the fussy part. I should have quit while I was ahead.
To make the twist it was necessary to stretch out the log, to make it longer so that it could be twisted. Since the dough was rolled to 1/8 of an inch, with the stretching the dough got really thin, and in some places the filling started to poke through. I perservered, and got the thing twisted. I tried to tuck the exposed bits inside the twist. It rose fine.
But when I baked it, it erupted--a pastry Mt Vesuvius.
From that fiasco it was on to pinwheels!
I tried rolling and cutting the dough and then moving it to the parchment paper, but the dough was too tender, so I rolled it and cut it directly on the paper. I used a pizza cutter and it did not cut the paper. I made squares, then diagonal cuts at the corners. They looked like Maltese Crosses. I put some flavored (light) cream cheese and some apricot jam in the middle, and folded alternate corners to the center.
I let them rise, then brushed them with egg wash and decorated with an almond. After The Great Twist Explosion I was concerned about leakage. I got some, but not too much. They actually turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself, though some of them started to unfold a bit. But I think that added a certain wabi-sabi (the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection) appeal.
I had some left over pumpkin brioche, which I used to make English Muffins. These were pretty easy to make, but I also could have just made a loaf of Brioche. Anyway, it seems to me that if you take an English Muffin or a slice of brioche, put on a little schmear and some jam, you have the same effect as the Pinwheel without the Strum und Drang. Now I do not mean to be anti-aesthetic, but in the words of Albert Einstein, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." See also, Occam's Razor ("the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one"). So while these were interesting to make, I think you can get to the same place by a shorter and more direct road. But then, as Robert Frost noted, it can make all the difference to take the road less traveled. Which is why I have 50.3 teaspoons of rose water.
So that ends the first year and the first half of the Official Braid. In the words of Winston Churchill "this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."