Nov 6, 2012

pan de muerto (orange rolls)

The past week has been pretty exciting.  First of all, on Friday, I got to celebrate Día de los Muertos with my students.  (Okay, it's a bit of nerdy excitement, but what can you expect?)  It's a holiday that began in Mexico to celebrate the lives of family and friends who have passed away (our All Souls Day).  It's always a fun day for a Spanish class as we talk about the traditions and enjoy pan de muerto.  It's the traditional bread prepared for Día de los Muertos.  It's got a light sweet, citrus flavor to it; it actually kind of reminds me of apricot rolls.  I made it last year for our not-so-traditional Thanksgiving that included smoked salmon, pan de muerto, and pumpkin pie.  It was pretty much the best of all holidays.

On top of Día de los Muertos, it was the daylight savings time weekend, so we got an extra hour to sleep.  And, on Monday morning it was slightly less pitch black when I left for work.

Okay, I can't hold it in any longer...

...we bought a house!  "Bought" might not be the right word yet, as we don't actually have the keys yet, but we had an offer accepted and the inspection went as well as it could have.  So, in approximately 31 days (who's counting?), we'll hopefully be getting our keys.

It's a big ranch with an awesome yard.  There's enough house to it that it could potentially be a "forever" house.  It's in one of our dream neighborhoods that we never thought we could afford.  The only reason it was in our price range was that it hasn't been updated since it was 1971.  But, we're excited to be the ones to pick the new paint colors and the new appliances that are so desperately needed.

In the mean time, I pray for patience.  For the next 31 days.

Pan de Muerto (Orange Rolls)
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats
Makes about 50 rolls

  • 3 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 5 c flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 3/4 c sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp orange blossom water or 2 tsp orange extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 c warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 egg yolks, divided
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • vegetable oil for coating bowl
  • 2 tsp heavy cream
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 tbsp flour and the yeast.  Stir in the warm water and let the mixture begin to foam, about 10 minutes.  In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine the remaining flour, 1/2 c sugar, salt, orange blossom water/orange extract, orange zest, warm milk, 3 eggs, and 4 egg yolks.  Mix everything together gently and add it to the yeast mixture in the stand mixer.  Mix on medium speed for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and shiny.  Add the softened butter and continue to mix an additional 2 minutes or so, until it's incorporated well.  Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil, transfer the dough to that bowl, sprinkle the top with a little more vegetable oil, cover it with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm spot until it's doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Transfer the dough to a clean surface that has been dusted with flour.  Cut the dough into small pieces (I made mine just under 1/4 c sized, but you can make your rolls any size you'd like. Keep in mind, though, that they'll continue to rise.)  Place the roll pieces on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Lightly cover the rolls again and let them rise an additional hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the remaining egg yolk and the heavy cream together in a small bowl.  Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar.  Bake them on the parchment-lined baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Once out of the oven, allow the rolls to cool slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cooled rolls in an airtight container.

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