Maple pecan brioche spirals

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These babies were really fun to make, particularly if you enjoy the whole laminated dough experience (as I certainly do!). 

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On my regular walks I pass a small woods near the Lincoln School here in Grand Rapids, Michigan and recently noticed they had put out the sap buckets for maple syrup. I have no idea how much sap/syrup they get from this late winter project, but it's cool nonetheless. It reminds me of our days of living in Vermont when it was tree-tapping-sap-running time and the sugar shacks were in full swing. Oh the memories.

Since we just happened to have a jug of Michigan maple syrup in the fridge, the maple pecan version of a laminated brioche roll was born.

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This post isn't so much about the process of making laminated brioche dough (which I wrote about here), but about the variety of goodies one can make with the same base dough.

Think pain au raisin, which is one of the classics for sale in many French pâtisseries. Typically made with croissant or brioche dough,  the dough is spread with pastry cream and sprinkled with rum soaked raisins, rolled up into a log, sliced, proofed and baked. This maple pecan version is simply another take on a delicious buttery dough, spread with an even greater filling. Yeah!

I made my brioche base dough, completed the beurrage and four 3-folds then wrapped it up to chill in the fridge overnight.

 Going through the folds

Going through the folds

I had chosen pecans for my project, but you can certainly substitute your favorite nut instead. Toast up about 250 g pecan halves and let cool. I divided those into 150 g to coarsely chop and 100 g to grind into a meal for the filling.  The filling was inspired by a recipe in the French book Viennoiseries & brioches by Parisian pâtissier/chocolatier Laurent Duchêne who has been awarded the coveted MOF title (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) and has his own pâtisserie in the 13th arr.

After the dough's overnight rest in the fridge I rolled it out into an approximately 25 cm/10" by 50 cm/20" rectangle and spread the filling in a thin layer all over. The filling is made very simply by combining 85 g egg whites, 100 g ground toasted pecans, 85 g sugar and 30 g maple syrup. Then I sprinkled 150 g of toasted and coarsely chopped pecans over the filling and rolled it all up into a neat log.

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When I do this sort of log/slice/proof/bake approach, I typically pop the log into the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes to firm things up. It's a bit easier to slice without having the filling ooze out as much as it might otherwise.

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I sliced my spirals about an inch thick and, after trimming the irregular ends, had a yield of 16 slices.

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Then it's on to a proof of about an hour under cover of lightly buttered film wrap, heating the oven to 350ºF and baking for about 25 minutes until nicely browned.

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I must admit I feared they might be a tad dry, so I brushed on a mix made with 4 tablespoons melted butter and 4 tablespoon maple syrup right when they came out of the oven.

Once cooled, Steve and I did a taste test. Our diagnosis: something is missing! And so, back to the drawing board. This time I made a glaze with confectioner's sugar mixed with maple syrup and a bit of milk to a thin enough consistency that I could brush on a nice coating. Then back into the oven for a few minutes to set the glaze and voilà. It was the perfect solution!

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These spirals did not disappoint. Not too sweet, just the right hint of maple, a pleasant nutty crunch and a lovely texture to the dough all made for a delicious treat. Steve gave them a thumbs up, particularly with that last glaze addition.

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Now it's time for you to choose your favorite brioche dough and make your own version of spirals. How about a spread of lemon curd and a sprinkle of candied pistachios? Or a raspberry version of pastry cream along with mixed berries and some chopped white chocolate? Or crème d'amande with chopped candied orange peels and toasted sliced almonds? So many choices!

Whatever you decide, have fun. That's what counts.