Monday, January 21, 2008

Caramel pecan rolls

First, a product endorsement: I ran to the store for some flour the other day and discovered it's now available in resealable plastic bags. How long has that been going on?

I am psyched because I usually have to transfer my flour to a plastic bag anyway for storage and the bag is designed so you can scoop and level with it standing upright on the counter without making a mess. Thank you, Gold Medal Flour people!

And now, the buns. Or the rolls, if you prefer. Or the dangerously delicious delights of diet doom.

It all starts innocently enough, with the sweet master dough from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." Yes, that book, which has been blogged about hither and yon lately. Much like no-knead bread was a year ago. And fittingly, since it builds on the same principle of letting time do the work for you.

Kris has been making bread and rolls, which look lovely, and she has some videos of the process you can check out. But Jaden kicked my interest up a notch – OK, twenty notches – with her photos of the pecan caramel cinnamon rolls. Plus a contest to win a copy of the book.

I didn't win, but that's OK. Let someone else experience the joy I did when I found out I won the vanilla. Mmmmm ... vanilla ....
.... Oh, sorry, my mind wandered there for a minute. Focus on the dough above and loaf at left. The dough includes seven cups of flour, a lot of yeast, honey as a sweetener, and some other stuff. That's a lot of dough! The idea is that you make a lot and let it sit in the fridge for days, pulling off hunks and baking it as needed. Such as the shaped loaf you see here.

To make the rolls, you roll out the dough, spread the filling, roll up the dough and slice. If you lack a rolling pin, a wine bottle filled with cold water works nicely.

(Have you tried Vinho Verde? It's a young Portuguese wine, very slightly bubbly, and with a little less alcohol than most wines. It's very refreshing.)
I was supposed to start with dough "about the size of a small cantaloupe." Apparently my melons are bigger than Jaden's.

I got all the official filling spread in the middle, and I stretched it on the edges by mashing up a little butter and sugar separately and cooking those rolls in another dish.

But wait! I forgot to show you the topping. Which starts out as the bottoming. It's hard not to be obsessive about design when working with pecan halves. You can't just scatter them.
(I'm sorry, I don't know what the hell happened to the white balance here. But I'm sure it's the camera's fault and not operator error.)

Bake for about 40 minutes, invert onto a platter (watch out for the melted butter!) And ta-da! Here they are at my office, on a desk known as "The Trough" (also known as the "Not a Trough" since we're not supposed to have food there).
They're ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille:
Yes, they are as yummy as they look. The cow-orkers enjoyed them very much.

Will I make them again? Maybe, but while the dough was easy to whip up, the whole process of making the topping and the filling in separate batches, and spreading both out, and rolling the dough and pounding the pecans with a hammer for the filling and toasting them and the halves in separate batches, uphill, barefoot, in the snow ... well, it was a lot of work for essentially eight rolls. (OK, the little extra ones were tasty, too.) But I'm lazy like that.

I will make a batch of monkey bread next week (which I do in total cheater fashion) and see how it compares. (P.S. Yes, the Monkey Bread for Cheaters is much easier.)

My whining is not a slam of the book at all, and I plan to find a copy ASAP so I can deal with the rest of the dough that's sitting in my fridge!

"Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François is back-ordered at Amazon, but you should check with your local independent bookseller or cookshop to see if they have it, or order it through them.


  1. Put them in the post to me right now! They look absolutely scrummy

  2. I love nice big fat rolls!

    (not on me of course..i meant to eat)

  3. Hi. Those rolls look amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing this with your readers. I'm inspired to make a batch myself.

    Did you make them with Brioche dough or the master recipe?

    Thanks, Zoe Francois (co-author)

    ps check out our wesite to find the errata sheet for the book: and

  4. One word: YUMMO!
    Looking forward to seeing your Monkey Bread recipe. Ginax

  5. Eeek, and then there's me who insists that everything is wrapped in either paper or glass because of the phytoestrogens that leech into the food from the plastics. You didn't know? Didn't effect the look of those buns though. Lucky work colleagues you have!


  6. Cow-orkers say "Sorry, Breezy, all gone!"

    Jaden, I see you did put the correct weight of the dough to use; I will use my scale next time. Kitchen variety, not bathroom; I don't know what these are doing to my fat rolls.

    Hey Zoe, thanks for visiting! Great book you've got there, and quite the buzz for it. I used the recipe that Jaden posted; I think that's the master sweet dough.

    Gina, you're going to laugh at the monkey bread recipe. It's about the exact opposite of this one.

    Dani, I'm humming Joe Jackson's "Everything Gives You Cancer."

  7. I made this as well! It's soo goood and buttery (= sinful). and i agree-it's quite abit of work but the end product is worth it!

    So u r the lucky person who won the cookbook. hehehe..Can't wait to see more creations here.

  8. Hi Daphne! No, I didn't win the cookbook; wish I had. But I'll track down a copy one of these days. It's so popular it's hard to find!