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Practical Alchemy: Beer Batter Bacon Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Bacon pecan cinnamon rolls
Nothing starts the weekend off right like a lazy, delicious brunch with some friends. This weekend I tried my hand at making bunch and served up some beer batter cinnamon rolls hiding a bounty of bacon and pecans within their sweet folds. The recipe originally came from this post on Serious Eats, and is every bit as delicious and easy as the post claims.

Click through for my take on their recipe and a few hints on making this brunchy treat come out quickly and with great deliciousness.

For the cinnamon filling:
4 or 5 strips maple cured bacon
1 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For the dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 12oz bottle nutty ale, at room temperature
5 tablespoons melted butter for brushing onto the dough

For the caramel topping:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Having whipped these up once following the Serious Eats recipe I think that things need to happen in a slightly different order than they suggest. Next time I'll start with the toppings and do the dough last. To get things started take a large cast iron skillet and get it up to a medium high heat. Fry the bacon to render out the fat and get it nice and crispy. Once the bacon is crispy remove it to some paper towels to drain and start the oven pre-heating to 350.

Immediately put the pecans in the bacon grease and fry them lightly. I overdid this and they got a blackened smokey flavor which was interesting, but a little less would have been better. Once they just start to change color immediately remove the pecans to the paper towel with the bacon and put aside.

Pour out the bacon grease from the skillet, leaving a light coating, and add the butter and brown sugar for the topping. While making the dough leave the skillet on a very low heat so the brown sugar and butter can melt, but won't burn.

To make the dough mix together all the dry ingredients and then combine in the beer gently. I used a full-bodied winter ale and after sampling the finished product realized something a little less hoppy would be a better choice. Serious Eats suggests a pecan ale, however I don't know that even more pecan flavor is necessary given amount of pecans already in the finished product.

Once the dough is formed transfer it to a heavily floured work surface and start to knead the dough. If the dough is too sticky to work with re-sprinkle with flour and keep kneading until the dough is elastic and sticks to itself significantly more than the work surface or your hands.

Let the dough rest while crumbling the bacon and pecans into a bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients for the cinnamon filling. Once this is complete roll out the dough into a 1/2" thick sheet and brush with some of the melted butter. Put about half of the cinnamon filling over the rough and roll it up into a log and cut the log into 1 1/2" discs.

Put one half of the remaining filling (that's 1/4th of the total filling for the math geeks in the class) into the botton cast iron pan with the caramel and then start putting the rolled up dough discs into it, starting in the center and spiraling outward. Finally brush the remaining butter on top of the rolls and sprinkle on the rest of the cinnamon filling.

Once the rolls are all prepped put them in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the rolls have puffed up and are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and invert onto a serving platter then dive in to bacon pecan bliss.


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