Thursday, January 22, 2015

Candied Jalapeno Pineapple Cream Cheese Buns

 Let me begin by saying that I am NOT a "Baker". I Love to get into the kitchen, mess things up, and come out with a fantabulous meal. But baking kind of scares me. It's so precise, almost an art form. And I'm not really good at it. I like to put my own spin on things, not follow a recipe word-for-word... My sweet friend and co-cook, Donna Currie, however, is a Master Baker- dare I say that she's the Bread Queen! Truly, she is! She's so awesome that she even has her own cookbook that was recently released, "Make Ahead Breads". Please check it out and if you like what you see, go ahead and order it! This book Rocks!

Let me begin by saying that we (the most awesome online cooking group ever, 37 Cooks) were given a small preview of Donna's book. We were asked to choose ONE Sneak Peek recipe of hers and to play around and have some fun. I Loved this idea. So I stepped outside of my comfort zone, big time... I somehow converted "Blueberry and Cream Cheese Buns with Lemon Zest" (Donna's recipe) into "Candied Jalapeño and Pineapple- Cream Cheese Buns with a Pineapple Glaze and Bacon". And they were Wonderful. I did all of the prep work on a rainy Saturday night while watching a football game. Woke up on Sunday (we had a couple of friends stay over that night), pulled these out of the fridge, turned on the oven, and voilà! Instant Brunch. Loved that!

But what I loved most about this recipe was the fact that it was very easy and also proved to be so very versatile. As I said, I don't follow directions as I should, and I like to substitute ingredients with "whatever I have on hand". This method worked so well with this bread! And I loved the "make- ahead" factor. I would actually bake a lot more bread if I knew that I could prep it the day before and simply cook it off when I needed it. So, again, please check out the book, "Make Ahead Breads". It would make a great gift for any baker, and is an awesome addition to any cook's collection!

Candied Jalapeno Pineapple Cream Cheese Buns with a Pineapple Glaze and Bacon
By Chris H.
Adapted from Blueberry and Cream Cheese Buns with Lemon Zest, found in the book,  Make Ahead Bread:100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon candied jalapeños, chopped and drained
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon crushed pineapple, drained
2 egg whites
1 1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 small packet (approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons butter, warmed
1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sugar
8 ounces cream cheese (I used Neufchâtel), softened
1 Tablespoon pineapple juice
Splash of lemon juice

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1/4- 1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (to taste)

Place the candied jalapeños and crushed pineapple into a piece of cheesecloth or a strainer of any sort and allow the juices to drain for at least 2-3 hours, up to overnight. These need to be as dry (liquid-free) as possible.

Combine the two egg whites with enough pineapple juice to make 1 1/4 cup, total. Place the egg and juice mixture, bread flour, brown sugar, yeast, potato flakes, dry milk, vanilla, salt, butter, and water into a stand mixer and mix (using a dough hook) until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough holds together well. You may need to add a bit more water, but do so in small amounts, as the dough should not be too wet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours, until it has almost doubled.

While dough is rising, combine the sugar, cream (Neufchâtel) cheese, 1 Tablespoon of pineapple juice, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix well (a fork will work), as it will be lumpy at first but will eventually reach a smooth consistency. Oil or grease a 9x13x 2" baking dish and set aside (I used an olive oil spray, but any cooking spray would work).

When dough has risen, flour your work surface and roll out your dough. You want to make a rectangular shape, about 12x16" in size. I trimmed one long side and one short side, so that when the buns are rolled and cut, they are "pretty" on top... Once dough is rolled, spread (as evenly as possible) with the cream cheese mixture. Leave about an inch of dough (on the long, cut side) uncovered by the cheese. Sprinkle the jalapeño and crushed pineapple over the cream cheese layer.

Beginning with the long, uncut side of the dough, gently roll the dough, jelly roll style, toward the cut (uncovered) end. When you are finished rolling, your dough should look like a log and is ready to be sliced. Starting at the rougher end of the log, gently slice into 12 even sized "disks" and place in the oiled baking pan. The buns will not touch one another, but that is okay. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight (or up to 24 hours).

The next day (or when ready to bake the buns), remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow to sit out for about 30 minutes (up to an hour is okay). Preheat your oven to 350, remove the plastic wrap from the top, and bake for 40-60 minutes. Begin checking them at the 30-40 minute mark, as ovens do vary. The original recipe called for approximately 40 minutes of cooking time, but mine took about 55 minutes to cook in the center. While the buns are cooking, make your glaze.

Simply combine the 1 cup of powdered sugar with the 2 Tablespoons of pineapple juice and whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside. Also prepare your crumbled bacon if you have not done so yet. When buns are cooked, remove from oven and drizzle half of the glaze evenly over the top of the entire pan. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the glaze, and, if desired, again drizzle the second half of the glaze over the bacon (or use all of the glaze, then finish with the bacon, if you prefer). Allow buns to cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and serve warm.

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