Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sopapilla Bread

   I ran across a yummy looking bread recipe on Pinterest* that really must be shared. This past weekend our fabulous little book club was feasting on Mexican delicacies while discussing Before I Go to Sleep (which is reviewed here, if you are interested). 
   I toted this along as a dessert thinking everyone craves a sugary speck of bread after a spicy Tex Mex meal but maybe not something fried. It was well received, and I'll be making it again. The next time, though, I think we'll serve it drizzled with honey. That's how we eat sopapillas in Oklahoma. Do you do that where you live?

   I did not invent this, of course, but I do feel like I can simplify the approach a tiny bit just by saying this: The ingredients and process for this are pretty much the same as any standard cinnamon roll recipe, right up to the point that you would roll the dough and slice it into little pinwheels. This means that you could probably take your own favorite cinnamon roll recipe and just treat the dough differently to come up with a slightly different presentation. No biggie. 

   I am happy to report, however, that this particular filling is much more buttery and waaaay more sugary than I have found others to be. Yum. I mean, it's so sugary that it crunches between your teeth in a delicate, state-fair-food kind of way. And it is so buttery that it stays moist. Not at all dry, even naked of icing. To illustrate this point, the test batch I made on Friday afternoon was under a cake dome all weekend and when I nibbled some on Monday it tasted perfectly moist and yummy.

   Care for the recipe?

For the Dough:
2 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (one packet)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup whole milk (I only had skim milk so used heavy cream, no problemo)
1/4 cup water
2 eggs (room temp & beaten)
1 tsp. vanilla

For the Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tablespoons butter, browned

To Make the Dough:

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter in with the milk or cream. Remove from heat, add water & vanilla, & allow to cool to about 125 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour with the sugar, yeast, & salt. 

3. Pour the warm milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. (I used a wooden spoon, not an electric mixer, and it worked great.) Now add the beaten eggs to the batter as well as 3/4 cup of flour. At this point I mashed it all up with my bare hands rather than stir. It worked well to incorporate the new flour.  The batter will be sticky.

4. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and let it rise (covered) in a warm spot until it doubles in volume. This takes less than an hour.


5. Knead in 2 more Tablespoons of flour, making the previously sticky dough nice and springy, replace the cover, and let the dough rise once more while you mix up the filling.

6. The filling is simple. Just stir together the spices & sugar in one bowl. And the same saucepan as earlier  heat the butter past the point of melted, gently until it turns a nice clear, brown color. Now remove butter from heat and hang on a little longer.


7. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Spread browned butter all over it, right up to every edge, then sprinkle on the sugary mixture. (Personal note: While making the test batch I panicked a little. It seemed like an excessive amount of butter and sugar, compared to recipes I've tried in the past, but this turned out to be what made this recipe so wonderful. Personal opinion.)

7. This is where the cinnamon roll/sopapilla bread road divides. Rather than roll your dough into a cylinder then slice that into little pinwheels, you use a pizza cutter to slice the flat sheet of dough into long strips. Then you stack those strips into a long, skinny dough skyscraper. Then you cut that long skinny dough skyscraper into stacked squares.

8. File your stacked squares on edge into a regular bread pan and let it rise one last time, just for a few more minutes. 

9.  I forgot to mention preheating your oven. Mine heats up with ridiculous speed, so I can do it right at this point. 350 degrees is good. Now bake the dough. Bake it till your house smells amazing. This takes about half an hour, then I suggest letting the bread rest for a while in the oven, but with the oven turned off and the door open.


   Now for a little housekeeping. As mentioned earlier* I found this recipe on Pinterest, where I was happily led to a blog called I Heart Food and So Can You. The author there did a great job illustrating every step, and her blog is lovely, so go check it out. She also credits two other previous blog posts for this recipe, Mandy's Recipe Box and, ultimately, Joy the Baker. Credit where credit is due, I groove it. Whoever first dreamed up this particular incarnation of cinnamon-butter-drenched yeasty love, I don't know. But it was B & K whose blog photos lured me in through Pinterest, so there we have it.

There's No Such Thing as Too Much Mexican Food,
and Credit Your Sources.


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