A wonderful pastry for any occasion.
5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter plus 1/2 cup melted
2-1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350F oven for 7 minutes
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup of the water, stir in the 1 teaspoon sugar, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups water, the 1/2 cup sugar and 4 cups of the flour.
3. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the salt, melted butter, eggs, and remaining 4 cups flour and beat until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
4. Transfer the dough to a very large bowl and slip a large plastic bag over the top, tucking the open ends under the bowl and leaving plenty of air space. Refrigerate overnight.
5. The next day, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, mealt the 1/2 cup butter and stir in 1 cup of the brown sugar, the corn syrup and the salt until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
7. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1-1/4 cups brown sugar and enough cream to form a spreadable mixture.
8. Generously grease 2 or 3 rimmed baking sheets with solid vegetable shortening. Spread the butter-sugar mixture evenly over the prepared pans, then scatter about 2 tablespoons of the pecans over the top.
9. Divide the dough in half. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one-half into a 12 by 15 inch rectangle. Generously brush the top with the melted butter. Spread on half of the cream-sugar mixture and sprinkle with half of the remaining pecans.
10. Beginning with a long side, roll up the dough and pinch the seam securely closed. Cut into slices 1 inch thick and arrange, cut sides down on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. Lightly cover with dampened kitchen towels and let rise until doubled, 45-50 minutes.
11. Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350F and continue to bake, rotating the pans after 15 minutes to ensure even baking, until browned, 20-25 minutes longer.
12. Immediately invert the pans onto racks. Let stand for 5 minutes to set the caramel, then lift off the pans.
13. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 2-1/2 dozen