Trinidadian Currant Rolls

Oof, it’s been a rough month for recipes.  Once again, I’m not fully satisfied with how these came out – don’t get me wrong, this flaky buttery cinnamon goodness is REALLY tasty, like practically addicting (nibble nibble nibble…) but they crumbled while slicing and didn’t come out as pretty as I would have liked.  I did salvage a couple of slices for the photos, thankfully.

Still, in my book, ultra delicious mmm-mm goodness waaaaay trumps a little embarrassment over crumbling slices.  So enjoy!

Trinidadian Currant Rolls

A few days ago I had never even heard of currant rolls.  I am not at all familiar with Trinidadian cuisine, but if these currant rolls are representative of what they’ve got to offer, then I’ve definitely got to read up on some more recipes!  They’re like the magical love child of a turnover and a cinnamon roll.  Currants are basically like small raisins – they’re also dried grapes, just a different type of grape – and their smaller size makes it easy to roll the pastry up without tearing havoc in the dough.  They might be hard to find in a typical grocery store, but thankfully I found a little tub of Zante currants at Whole Foods hiding behind the figs.

So the story behind this blog post starts with recently I’ve started using Blue Apron.  If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a service that delivers the exact amount of ingredients needed for three recipes each week – with the option of skipping whichever and as many weeks as you like if you won’t have time to cook or don’t like that week’s menu.  Given how expensive groceries are in Manhattan, it actually saves me a lot of time and is pretty economical seeing as I like to divide recipes meant for two servings into three or four by adding more sides from my pantry to stretch them.  I like to choose recipes that challenge me to work with new ingredients, new techniques, or both – a really fun way to continue my self-education in cooking!

Anyway, this past week one of my (really tasty) recipes was this Trinidadian Chicken over Coconut Grits, which caused quite a stir when reheated for lunch at work as the delicious aroma wafted through the office.  One of my coworkers commented that she once had a nanny who was from Trinidad, and wistfully described how much she missed these delicious currant rolls that her nanny would make.  I had no clue what these magical currant rolls were, but how else could I take it other than as a challenge? 😉

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So, Google to the rescue!  Since I’ve never had an authentic currant roll myself, I wanted to follow this wonderful recipe from 196 Flavors without any modifications before fussing around with any of my preconceived ideas of pastry dough like adding alcohol instead of water.  I did cut the recipe in half because butter/vegan butter is so expensive nowadays.  Also unfortunately I didn’t have any shortening in my pantry because I don’t typically use it, so I just used more butter instead of shortening – maybe this is what made the roll crumble apart while slicing?  Or maybe it’s something as simple as I forgot to leave an inch or so of dough uncovered by filling, so the outermost layer of pastry was too fragile?  Or maybe it was just because I was impatient and didn’t wait for the dough to chill enough in the fridge?  Or maybe because my impatience again got the better of me and I was trying to cut them before being cooled completely?

Seriously guys, never try baking a new recipe while rushed.  Do what I say, not what I do.

Trinidadian Currant Rolls

I have a feeling that any or all of the above deviations are the reason why these rolls didn’t come out exactly perfect for me, so the recipe I’m posting here follows the original recipe from 196 Flavors more than what I actually put into practice – I will note the points where I deviated and where I think it might have affected the eventual pastry consistency.  Learn from my mistakes so you don’t end up with crumbly rolls!

Whether you are more successful than I or not, I guarantee that you will love this recipe.  Trust me, the taste testers did not mind how they looked one bit as they went back for another nibble, and another, and another…!

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Trinidadian Currant Rolls

from 196 Flavors
makes 1 roll – approximately 16 slices
dairy free/egg free/vegan options available

pastry dough

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter*, diced and very cold
  • *if using vegan butter, add optional tablespoon of butter flavoring
  • 4 tablespoons shortening, diced and very cold
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice cold water
  • optional egg wash – 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk of choice

filling

  • 3/4 cups currants
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter*
  • *if using vegan butter, optionally use 3 tablespoons vegan butter and 1 tablespoon butter flavoring
  1. First, tackle the dough: using a food processor, pastry cutter, or your hands, mix together the flour, salt, then the cold diced butter and shortening coarsely so that lumps of butter and shortening are about pea-sized.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of the ice cold water first, then gradually add more if needed.  Knead together briefly into a ball of dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or more – not only an hour like I did 😦 watch some TV or something!
  3. While you’re waiting and binge-watching Netflix, make the filling: toss together the currants, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Melt the butter in a separate bowl.
  4. Once the pastry dough has chilled enough, preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly flour a working surface and rolling pin.  Form the pastry dough in a rectangle best you can.  Roll out to a long thin rectangle about 12 to 16 inches long and about 1/4 inch thick – the longer the length of the rectangle, the more slices you can cut, but the smaller each slice will be.
  5. Evenly distribute the currant/cinnamon sugar filling on the dough rectangle, keeping about an inch free of filling on each of the long sides – not like me, who just spread everything out, making it difficult to properly seal it when it came time to rolling 😦
  6. It’s time to roll everything up!  Keep it nice and tight so that you can get lots of yummy layers!
  7. Optionally, brush with an egg wash at this point to give it a beautiful golden brown color when done baking.  Bake on baking sheet lined by parchment paper or a silicone baking liner for about 50 minutes – I actually had to take it longer to around 60 minutes as it was still a little undercooked in the middle of each roll.
  8. Allow the roll to cool COMPLETELY before cutting!  The pastry is definitely more fragile if too warm and might crumble if you cut too soon.  I suggest a serrated knife for the easiest and prettiest cuts.  Traditionally, these are cut on a bias, i.e. on an angle.  If the rolls still look a little undercooked in the middle, you can pop the slices back into the oven for a few more minutes to get them baked all the way through.  Next time I will try maybe cutting the raw dough and then baking as slices, like with cinnamon rolls – will update this recipe with the results!
  9. You can store these in an airtight container at room temperature, but as with most things the awesome flakiness is best sooner you eat them.  I would suggest serving same day or next day for best quality, though they’re still be tasty for a few days after.

Nutritional description: mmm, flour, butter, sugar.  Not much nutritional value there but depending how small you cut the slices/how many slices you get out of it, calorically they’re a very reasonable treat.  At least the currants provide a nice dose of fiber, iron, vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and more!  Just remind yourself of that as you inevitably reach for another 😉

Nutritional information (calculated without vegan substitutions, based on 16 slices per roll): Calories 121, Total Fat 5.8, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Cholesterol 7.5mg, Carbs 15.8g, Fiber 0.7g, Sugars 7.1g, Protein 1.5g, Sodium 11.6mg

 

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