Cinnamon Pecan Twists

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So I have gotten a little bit obsessed with creating baked goodies that include yeast lately… I don’t really know why. There is just something about mixing up a dough, and after letting it rise coming back to find a puffed up ball of dough that is twice the size of what you started with that just gets me downright giddy. Do you get this? That feeling of pure joy over a ball of yeast dough…?? I’m sure I can’t be the only one who leaps for joy over rising dough… okay may I am- moving on.

Basically I have been going through the yeast in my pantry like it’s going out of style and I have had to make numerous trips to the grocery store to re-stock. So anticipate some more bread and yeast dough themed recipes to be coming soon to a theater near you – because once again, I have a new baking obsession. I know – what else is new right?

My obsession with yeast began a few weeks ago, when I made a batch of Peach Cinnamon Buns for the Haney Farmers Market society to taste test as a possible new addition to our Farmers Market line up. The ladies informed me that they loved them, so I was free to sell whatever cinnamon buns of my choosing at any upcoming markets. So sell them I did…

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I love cinnamon buns – like really, really loveeeee cinnamon buns. I mean seriously how could you go wrong with excessive amounts of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter wrapped up into a soft, fluffy, sweet dough…? You just can’t – it’s impossible. So needless to say, I was more than just a little bit stoked that I was now able to present any cinnamon buns of my choosing to the lovely patrons of the weekly Haney Farmers Market.

Not only do I find cinnamon buns positively delicious to devour, but they I also think that they are so much fun to make, because you can play around, not only with the flavour combinations in your buns, but also with the shape of them. Since I had done a classic cinnamon roll shape for the market taste testers, I decided I wanted to play around with a couple different and distinct shapes for the various flavours I wanted to actually sell at the market.

So last Saturday, (my first day of selling the buns,) I made a batch of Blueberry Sweet Rolls, as well as a batch of Cinnamon Pecan Twists. The Blueberry Rolls, were done in a classic roll shape while the Cinnamon Pecan Twists I did in the twisty, coiled shape that you see featured in the photos here. I had so much fun making them for the market that I couldn’t wait for the next one to test out new shapes & flavours. So literally the next morning I was back in my kitchen testing out 2 new flavour combinations and 2 new looks for the flavours. Was this the best way to spend a rainy Sunday morning – umm… yes!

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I can’t wait to unveil my new flavours at the upcoming markets, but for now I’m going to make you wait and stick with the Cinnamon Pecan Twists for this weeks recipe share.

I have made a lot of cinnamon buns over the years while trying to find the perfect combination of ingredients to create a cinnamon bun that is always a perfect combination of flavourful, soft and fluffy. It has taken many trials, complete with many failures along the way, (the dreaded dry cinnamon buns,) but without hesitation, I can say that this recipe is truly perfect.

I have made this recipe many times now and I have never had a failure to date. These buns always come out super soft, fluffy and flavourful. My secret to the perfect dough, has been using a little bit of buttermilk in the mix. I found that with the addition of buttermilk, my buns took on the perfect flavour and texture. So if you are looking at the buttermilk in the recipe and thinking to yourself… huh? Trust me – this is the secret.

So enough about my obsession with yeast – let’s get to the recipe!

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Cinnamon Pecan Twists
Makes: 12 Twists

Things you need…

Dough
2 pkgs instant dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 eggs, beaten at room temp
4 1/2 cups flour (approx)
1/2 tsp salt

Filling
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

How to make…

Dough
In a saucepan over combine whole milk and buttermilk over low heat until warm, but not too hot.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook add your yeast and a couple tsp of the sugar. Pour the warmed milks over the yeast and sugar and lightly whisk to combine. Allow your yest to sit in the warm milk like this for 5-10 minutes to proof. When you come back to your yeast after 5-10 minutes it should be frothy – this indicates that your yeast is active and good to go. If you come back and your yeast hasn’t gotten frothy or foamed up, discard the contents in your bowl and start over with new fresh packages of yeast and proof again using the same technique.

Once you have proofed your yeast, add the remaining sugar to the mixture as well as the softened butter and turn your mixer onto low to begin combining the ingredients. Mix for a minute or so until the softened butter is broken up into chunks. Add your beaten eggs in two additions allowing about 1 minute of mixing time in between each addition. Slowly begin to add your flour 1/2 cup at a time allow the flour to incorporate slightly before each addition.

Once you have added all of your flour, turn your mixer onto medium speed and allow it to mix the dough until a large smooth mass forms. The dough should be soft and a bit sticky, but not so wet that it is sticking to the sides of the bowl. If you find that your dough is sticking to the sides of your bowl, add a bit more flour 1 tbsp at a time until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Allow to turn on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl – it should be smooth and elastic. Knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Next, place your dough into a large greased bowl, lightly grease the top of your dough and cover with a dry tea towel. Set your dough aside to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until doubled in size.

** My oven has a warming function, so I usually set the warming function to low and let my dough sit in here to rise. If your oven has this feature, this is a great way to let your dough rise. If not, simply preheat your oven to about 200 degrees, shut it off and place the dough in there to rise as there will be enough residual heat in your oven to keep it nice a warm.

Filling
While your dough is rising, prepare your filling. In a medium sized bowl, combine butter and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and flour and beat until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.

To toast your pecans – lay them out on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until fragrant. This usually only takes about 5 minutes in my oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Chop into large chunks and set aside until you are ready to assemble your twists.

Assembly
Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly dust your dough with flour and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into 1/4 inch thick rectangle that is about 18 -20 inches wide.

Evenly spread the prepared cinnamon filling over the top of the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch thick border at the top of the dough. Sprinkle your chopped pecans evenly over top of the filling and gently press into  the filling. Next, fold the bottom of the dough 2/3 of the way up onto the other half of the dough, and then fold the top of the dough over top of the fold you just made. Gently pat the dough to secure, and pinch the edge of the dough together to seal.

Next, cut the dough lengthwise into 12 1 1/2 inch thick strips. Take the end of each strip, with one end in each hand and gently pull on either end to stretch the dough strip slightly to about 6 inches long. Take each end between your thumb and forefinger and twist in opposite directions 4-5 times to twist the strip. Now hold one end in your hand and tightly wrap the other end around that end in a coil 2 times and tuck the end under the coiled dough.

Repeat this process with each strip and place each dough twists onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper allowing about 2-3 inches between each twist so that they have enough space to grow when they rise. I usually only put 6 twists on each baking sheet so by the end I have 2 trays of 6 twits.

Cover your trays with plastic wrap and return them to a warm place to rise again for another 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size. Once they are ready, remove the plastic wrap and brush the tops with a bit of egg wash. Sprinkle with a bit of coarse sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until they are a nice light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Serve the Cinnamon Pecan Twists warm on their own or click here to get the recipe for my homemade cream cheese glaze and serve these bad boys up with a light drizzle of all that cream cheese goodness and you will officially be in heaven.

Notes: 
** Recipe adapted from Canadian Living’s Sweet Yeast Dough

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