Breakfast Breads 2: Chelsea Buns

2006-09-16

Another sub teaching us today (our regular Chef is in a dragon boat competition), an instructor that I've heard positive things about. The best thing about her instructional style were the sound effects and sarcasm. This was also the first Chef who bothered to talk about minimizing waste and sanitation. We throw out a lot of plastic sheets, parchment paper and paper towels during the course of a class.

Anyway, we started off by making dough for Chelsea buns. One thing I learned from Chef N is that the temperature of water can be used to help control the speed of the rise. For example, if you're working in a busy kitchen and have multiple things on the go, you can use slightly cooler water so that the yeast doesn't work as fast.

Once the Chelsea bun dough was proofing on the bench, we made up croissant dough which is regular bread dough with added sugar, milk powder and butter. The other way of looking at it is a yeasted puff pastry dough.

Chelsea BunsBack in Chelsea land, we degassed and rolled the dough into a rectangle, then spread it with caramel glaze and cinnamon sugar. The former was a soft paste made from sugars, butter, honey and water. We spread the glaze on the bottom of parchment-lined cake tins then sprinkled it with maraschino cherries and pecans. As I've come to expect from George Brown recipes, both ingredients aren't “traditional” (raisins or currants are). The dough was then rolled up tightly, sliced into rounds, then arranged in the tins. We hurried the pans into the proofer before baking them off.

After degassing the croissant dough, we rolled it into a rough square, then placed a slab of roll-in fat that I shaped into a square. Chef demonstrated the “English” method of incorporating the fat (butter in her case), while we used the “French” method to incorporate the roll-in fat. (A good resource on laminated doughs is here). The reasoning I heard for using the cheaper, inferior roll-in fat is that it's easier to work with for beginners. While that may be true, I'm sure cost has something to do with it. However, nothings prevents you from bringing your own butter, which is what the pair behind me did. We had to rush to squeeze in all the turns (standard 3-, 4-, 3-, 4-fold). There wasn't nearly enough resting time between turns to allow the dough to relax and the fat to chill, so I don't know how our croissants will turn out.

However, the Chelsea buns were pretty good. The glaze caramelized nicely, and what I thought was a lot of cinnamon sugar turned out to be just right. Raisins would be pretty tasty in this. A lot of the finished products I saw “erupted” for lack of a better word. I think it was important to pinch the seam closed to ensure the rolls don't unwind during baking.

Please see Ms. Puff's take on the class too.

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