Friday, 11 January 2013

Snail Pieday

We made Schnecken*.

Anyone wishing to do the same should be warned that these are very sweet and very rich.
We made them as a breakfast treat for Eleanor's birthday***, and may feel up to eating them again by the time it rolls around again.


Half a batch of danish pastry dough (see the danish pastry recipe or, if you made some before, fish it out of the freezer and defrost it overnight)

A lot of butter, softened
Ditto syrup, maple and golden both (actually, our golden turned out to be maple-flavoured by mistake)
Ditto sugar, soft brown, and caster
Nuts, (walnuts or pecans are good)
Ground cinnamon.

I haven't given exact amounts here, as it will depend on the amount of danish pastry you have, or whether you just make or buy puff pastry (which also works) instead.
Besides, tastes vary, go with your instincts.

You will also need baking parchment, or, failing that, paper muffin cases.
Do not attempt to use cases designed for fairy cakes, it will not work.

I must confess that Eleanor was busy signing cards when we made these, so her assistance was largely limited to supervising, and giggling when things went wrong.
The recipe is very child friendly however****.

If you're using frozen pastry, take it out of the freezer two nights before you intend to eat it, and place it in a covered bowl to defrost.

Next morning either make your pastry, or heave the now defrosted mass out of the bowl and get it into a roughly rectangular shape.
 Roll it out, and, if you haven't already done this, go through the whole folding and rolling and turning and folding routine*****.

Now cover it and leave it to rise till early evening.
Take the butter out of the fridge and leave it to soften.
Got out to the park or something.

Come home and uncover the dough.
Roll it out again into a decent rectangle.
Now combine soft brown sugar and caster sugar in equal quantities until you think you have enough to cover the dough with a reasonably thick layer.
Stir in a tablespoon or so of cinnamon, till you have a golden, sandy mess.
Sprinkle said mess evenly over the dough and press down gently in a futile attempt to prevent it all escaping later on.
Roll the rectangle of dough up lengthwise, so you have a long fat sausage.

Next, mix the syrups in equal quantities******, and stir in enough of the softened butter to make a deeply unappealing, gooey, blobby mess.
 Line a deep baking tray with baking parchment.
Now line it again.
Now pour the syrupy gunk all over the bottom of the tray.
If you don't have baking parchment then just share the oozy, splodgy stuff between muffin cases instead.
 Crush the nuts and sprinkle them over the syrup.

Now cut the sausagey thing into thick slices and watch in dismay as all the filling drops out.
Do your best to scoop it back in, then place the slices on top of the nuts and syrup so they look like snails lying on their sides.
Snuggle them up to each other and sprinkle any remaining escaped cinnamon-mixture over the top.
 Leave them to rise overnight.
We just left them in the cold oven, and by morning they were thoroughly puffy and squidgy.

Take them out of the oven (if that's where you left them), turn it onto a lowish heat (we used 180) and let it warm up a little before putting them back in for twenty minutes or so.
 Remove when they're thoroughly glorious and golden brown, leave for five minutes, then flip the whole tray over onto a big plate and peel off the paper.
Leave for another five to ten minutes before serving.

Eat if you dare.

If in need of entertainment: feed one inch of unsyruped snail to toddler.
Watch as toddler careens off the furniture for two hours, giggling madly, then falls over and goes to sleep.
Repeat as needed.

*Which means snails**, but who would want to say snails, when they could say schnecken?

**Not real snails, they're just called that because they look like snails.
Really they're curly, sticky, cinnamony, nutty, oh just read the recipe.

***The festival previously known as Christmas.

****Also messy.
 Supposedly children like that sort of thing.

*****You know, the one you have to do for puff pastry, and for danish pastry, as if it's a letter you need to roll into submission.

******Or, if you have weird, artificially maple flavoured, golden syrup, just use the actual maple syrup.
Which turns out to be amazing with salted butter.

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