Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baking with Beer Part 1: Beer Pecan Rolls

This recipe is from the food blog of food blogs, Serious Eats. Now, blogging about recipes I find on recipe websites, magazines, and cookbooks is one thing, but blogging about a recipe that was already blogged about always makes me feel alittle sketchy. So, I am making it crystal clear I AM NOT THE FIRST PERSON TO POST ABOUT THIS! See the original post here.

However, I do have something to say/ an improvement to make. This recipe was probably converted from metric measurements without much care. If you checked out the original post, you might have noticed my comment, which at the time of posting has remained unanswered, I guess because it’s a huge blog and an old post.

I noted in my comment that the recipe says 1 ½ tablespoon, which is kind of a weird way to measure stuff (I don’t have a tool to measure ½ tablespoon ) but easy enough to figure out (3 teaspoons in a tablespoon so 2 ½ teaspoons). But then ¼ tablespoon? Oww, my head hurts trying to figure that one out. It was easy enough with a calculator, but I don’t think I should need to get out the calculator when I’m cooking, especially breakfast.

If this was a recipe for a sauce or something, I would just guestimate by filling up my tablespoon measurerer ¼ full, but this is baking! Being off by a little bit on the salt can most certainly affect that outcome of your food.

The recipe should say ¾ of a teaspoon, and no, I don’t have a ¾ teaspoon measuring spoon either, but I DO have a ½ teaspoon and a ¼ teaspoon. And that’s math even I can do: ½ + ¼ = 3/4 teaspoon!

Anyway, my big issue with Serious Eats, and I guess food blogs in general, is that everyone comments and says "oh sounds great" "I can't wait to make this" but who actually makes it? I DO!

Beer Bread Pecan Rolls

- serves at least 6 -
Adapted from Home Cookin' by Julia Sneed. and adapted AGAIN from Serious Eats blogger Maggie Hoffman by Amanda


For the cinnamon filling:
4 or 5 strips bacon (optional)
1/2 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
5 tablespoons butter, melted (you may not use all of this)

For the dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder *1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons *
1/4 tablespoons salt *1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 twelve-ounce bottle Abita Pecan Ale (or other nut brown or pumpkin ale), at room temperature

For the caramel topping:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup raw pecan halves or pieces


1. Remove beer from the fridge to bring to room temperature. You can run it under warm tap water until it doesn't feel too cold. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add beer and stir with a wooden spoon until a moist dough is formed. Flour your hands and a kneading surface well, then knead, adding a small amount of flour as needed, until dough doesn't stick to the board.

2. If you're making the bacon variation, cook the bacon slowly in a cast iron skillet (11 inches is ideal) to render out as much fat as possible. When crisp, remove bacon from pan and let cool on a paper towel. Crumble bacon. Add pecans to the pan (with remaining bacon grease) and toss, toasting lightly until fragrant. Remove nuts from pan with a spoon and set aside with the bacon.

Note: If you're not using bacon, toast the nuts in a dry cast iron skillet (11" is ideal) until fragrant, then set aside as above.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) for cinnamon filling until blended.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Flour surface and rolling pin and roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Brush melted butter over the rolled-out dough. (You may not use all of it.) Sprinkle cinnamon filling over dough and top with the toasted pecans and crumbled bacon if using. Roll up like a log.

5. In the same cast iron pan, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter with remaining brown sugar to make the caramel topping. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining raw pecans and distribute caramel evenly over the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

6. Cut cinnamon-roll log into coinlike slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place each roll into pan on top of the caramel topping, starting in the center and working outward in concentric circles until pan is full. Brush roll tops lightly with butter and bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes (rolls will brown slightly.) I would tend more toward the 25 minutes if you like yours gooey. Place a round platter on top of pan and invert rolls onto platter so caramel topping is on top. Serve immediately.

Final verdict? These are delicious, and I made them without the bacon. They tasted a little dry when they came out of the oven, but when I wrapped one in a damp paper towel and reheated it the next day it was moist and heavenly. Next time I will cut down on the cooking time a tiny bit. I forgot how much fun making a huge doughy mess can be, I will definitely bake some more after this.

The beer I used, I'm curious to try this recipe with pumpkin beer.

I baked them in a small pan so they all baked together. You can pull them apart pretty easily, if you bake them in a bigger pan they won't all stick together like that.

I made a satisfactory mess if I do say so myself :)

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