Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sweet Snails, Sleeping


Sometimes sleep seems an impossible task. These are quiet times in the night, requiring quiet work to tire both mind and body into a readiness for slumber. Breadmaking by hand is quiet, busy work. As with insomnia, patience is needed. It was during last night's late night, while replying to emails and catching up with familiar websites, that I found this simple recipe, for Pain Aux Raisins and Cream Cheese Snails, from Floyd at The Fresh Loaf. So sweet and charming, I knew I simply had to bake these delightful little treasures as well.

The base is conveniently the same for these two recipes, both taken from The Village Baker , written by Joe Ortiz. While I prepared the base last night, the majority of this project actually took place early this morning. I cannot praise this dough enough. It works beautifully and I was more than pleased with my sweet little 'snails,' as they slept peacefully during their final rest, before being baked in the oven. Then, while still warm from the oven, I immediately sampled one of each. And, "Oh My!" It is nearly impossible to attempt a proper description. These lovely little pretties must be baked and tasted for oneself, in order to truly appreciate how delicious they really are.

Pain Au Lait
(recipe courtesy www.thefreshloaf.com)

Ingredients:
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 cup water
3 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons powdered milk
4 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
6 tablespoons butter, softened
If using active dry yeast, proof it in 1/2 cup of warm water for 10 minutes. (Alternately, instant yeast can be mixed in with the dry ingredients in the next step. )

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, powdered milk, and sugar. Add the yeast, water, and eggs and mix until ingredients are combined. Add the softened butter and mix or knead until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. You should have a fairly sticky, satiny dough.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down, return it to the bowl and cover it again, and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, divide the dough in half and, while still cold, use each half to prepare one batch (8) of each type of snails (or two batches (16) of one).

Before beginning, you'll need to make a simple egg glaze that you will use in both recipes:
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
Whisk to combine.
Cream Cheese Snails
(recipe courtesy http://www.thefreshloaf.com)

Ingredients for Filling:
3/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon egg glaze

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, approximately 8 by 12 inches. Slice the rectangle into 8 long strips.

Stretch each strip as long and thin as you can (Ortiz suggests 24 inches). Twist each strip and then curl each up to make a snail shape.
Place the snails on a parchment-lined or well greased baking sheet and brush them gently with the egg glaze. Use your fingers to create a well in the center of the snail and then place one tablespoon of the cheese mixture/filling on top.
Let the snails rise for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until they are puffy. Preheat the oven to 385 degrees and bake the snails for between 15 to 17 minutes, until they are golden brown. Makes 8 snails.

Immediately after removing from the oven, paint then with a light sugar glaze:

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pain Aux Raisins
(recipe courtesy http://www.thefreshloaf.com)

Ingredients for Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, approximately 8 by 10 inches. Coat the rectangle with the egg glaze and then spread the cinnamon, raisin, and sugar mixture/filling over it.

Roll the the dough up into a large log and then slice it into 8 pieces. Place each of the pieces onto a parchment-lined or well greased baking sheet, press down on them with the palm of your hand to flatten them, and then paint them gently with the egg glaze.

Let the snails rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are puffy. Preheat the oven to 385 degrees and bake the snails for between 15 to 17 minutes, until they are golden brown. Makes 8 snails.
Immediately after removing from the oven, paint then with the same sugar glaze you painted the cream cheese snails with above.
Until we meet for coffee,
Julie

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