As Easter is this week, I’ve felt inspired by all sorts of sweet breads and chocolatey desserts, it’s like Christmas- but in April! It has been a while since I’ve done any sort of homemade bread so this week, I decided to roll with this idea of praline. And boy, oh boy did it turn out to be a gem.
I had a packet of pecans lying around that I had to use soon, and nothing beats ye olde combo of caramel and pecans. At this point, I had also started craving cinnamon rolls but there was no way that I would break apart these 2 culinary lovebirds with that common tart cinnamon. So, pecans and caramel, rolled up to look like cinnamon rolls? Sure, let’s go with that.
At the last minute I decided to use up the almonds that were hogging my shelf space, and as I had a jar of vegan caramel sauce in the fridge, I thought it might be fun to incorporate that too. And ta-da, the outcome was this masterpiece! Fresh out the oven, this could not be any closer to oven. Despite the use of caramel and extra brown sugar, this bread manages not to be overly sweet, and the use of buttermilk over regular milk makes it super soft. Do your family a favour and make this for Easter- I only advise you to make 2 batches as it probably won’t last long!
For the vegan caramel sauce:
- 1×14 oz can coconut cream (just leave a tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
For the bread:
- 2 cups vegan buttermilk (2 cups non dairy milk+2 tbsp vinegar)
- 2 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 and ½ cups self raising flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup of the vegan caramel sauce
Start by making the vegan caramel sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut cream and brown sugar over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence and salt. Add to a glass jar and refrigerate for an hour. Will keep for a week in the fridge.
Then move on to the bread:
- Heat the buttermilk to about 30°C (or the recommended temperature on your yeast packet) and dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm buttermilk. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and foaming.
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour the buttermilk mixture and vegetable oil into the middle. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together then remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. If the dough is too sticky then add flour in, one tablespoon at a time until it holds. Set aside and allow to rest 30 minutes, whilst you prepare the filling.
- Add the pecans and almonds to a large roasting pan and roast at 200°C/400°F for 15 minutes, or until darkened and very fragrant. Allow to cool at room temperature before crushing to small pieces using either a food processor or a meat hammer. Add to a small bowl along with the brown sugar. Reserve a ¼ cup of this mixture for topping the dough.
- Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has rested and you’ve prepared the filling, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 9×13 (I just eyeballed it and made the dough slightly smaller than the baking pan). Spread the vegan caramel over the surface of the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border. Sprinkle the nut/sugar mixture over the surface of the dough in an even layer.
- Starting at the longer end, roll the dough into a long cylinder, as if you’re making cinnamon rolls. I would advise that you transfer the dough to the baking pan you’re using at this point. Use a paring knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to make incisions in the dough, every 1 inch. Be careful not to cut all the way to the bottom of the log. I just pulled and twisted any loose ends, but you don’t need to do any more as far shaping the dough goes.
- Once you’re done shaping the dough, sprinkle the extra brown sugar/nut mixture you’d set aside earlier over the dough. If desired, you can also drizzle any extra caramel sauce you have left over the dough. Bake the bread in an oven at 180°C/350°F for between 35 and 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing and serving. Best served warm and on the same day that it’s baked.