Monday, March 29, 2010

How To Segment An Orange

To segment an orange, begin by slicing off the top and bottom of the orange, so you have a good steady surface on which to rest the orange. Ensure you've sliced off enough to see plenty of the orange and not too much pith.

Then, following the curve of the orange, slice off sections of peels, starting from the top to the bottom of the orange as it's resting on your cutting board. Trim off any excess pith remaining on the orange.

Place your knife as close to a line of membrane as possible and make one slice. Move your knife to the other side of the orange segment, as close to the other line of membrane as possible, and make another slice.

The orange segment should pop right out - remember to segment your oranges over a bowl in which to drop the slices as well as to catch the juices.

Continue with this process until you've segmented the entire orange. Squeeze the remaining orange piece to extract all juice.

Orange segments are perfect pieces of orange that can be used in a number of ways: salads, breakfasts, desserts (see my Orange Tian) and even just for eating alone.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honey Buns

The name of these sticky buns has been making me smile all day long - and giving some of my Twitter contacts a good laugh as well.

There isn't anything to poke fun at with these, though. They're the best non-cinnamon buns I've ever tasted - moist, tender and the flavor! oh my. If you can believe it...there's a mere two tablespoons of sugar in the entire recipe.

I've been waiting to make these sticky buns for quite some time. My mother in law gave me a jar of locally made cranberry blackberry honey for my birthday last June and I hadn't had a recipe to use it in till recently. I needed to wait a little while longer, too, in order to find crème fraîche - thankfully discovered at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. I have attempted to make my own without luck. Any tips?

Since I typically don't get up before eight o'clock on my husband's days off, several hours of rising and baking combined won't work for us. So I started this dough the night before, sliced them into rounds (use dental floss - no more squashed buns!) and deposited them into their honey butter bath and slid the pan into the fridge for the night. In the morning, I started the oven preheating and put the pan (remove plastic wrap) on top of the stove to finish the rising process while the oven preheated - I gave them thirty minutes before placing them in the oven.

The honey buns only took forty minutes to bake in my gas oven, so watch them closely. Mine started to brown at the thirty minute mark so I covered them loosely with aluminum foil and let them bake another ten minutes, when the honey butter started to bubble.

Right after pulling them out of the oven I inverted them onto a foil lined baking sheet and drizzled them with the remainder of the cranberry blackberry honey - I used the entire jar for this recipe, but it was worth it. They need no other adornment; the final splash of honey is more than enough. These buns are sticky, sweet without being overly so and the bread is unbelievably moist and tender; the crème fraîche and mascarpone mixture absorbs right into the bread giving it a pleasant but again not overpowering tang.

While they are best still warm from the oven, I ate my second after it was completely cooled and it was still delicious. Reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave if desired!

Honey Buns
Martha Stewart
Makes 9

For the dough:
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1/3 cup honey, any type
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
vegetable oil, for bowl

For the filling & topping:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey, any type, plus more for brushing and drizzling
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (
make your own - it's easy!!)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional - I did not use)

Make the dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk milk, butter, eggs, honey, salt and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed. Add yeast mixutre and whisk 1 minute. Switch to dough hook and reduce speed to low. Add 4 cups flour. After flour is mixed in, raise speed to medium and continue kneading.

Add remaining flour, a half cup at a time, mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Raise speed to medium high and knead for another 10 minutes. You can also knead by hand until smooth, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is very smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Set aside in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Make the filling & topping:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in honey, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat. Let cool. Combine mascarpone and crème fraîche in a bowl.

Punch down the dough and turn onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 portions. Roll each into a ball. Freeze 2 portions for up to three months, thawing in refrigerator before use. Roll remaining dough into a 10x13 1/2 inch rectangle. Brush lightly with honey, spread mascarpone mixture evenly on top, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle with pecans if using. Starting on 1 long side, roll dough into a log. Pinch along seam to seal. Cut into nine 1 1/2 inch thick slices.

Pour honey mixture into an 8 inch square baking pan. Place buns, cut sides down, into pan, 3 to a row. Let buns rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Place oven rack in lower third. Bake buns, rotating halfway through, until browned and bubbling, about 1 hour. Set pan on wire rack on baking sheet and immediately invert buns onto rack. Drizzle with honey and serve warm.