On a recent Herb Society of America webinar, William Varney inspired viewers with a talk about enhancing life using herbs in the home, kitchen, garden, and bath. Varney, owner of URBANherbal in Fredericksburg, Texas, and co-author of Herbs: Growing and Using Plants of Romance and Along the Garden Path is a well-known, self-taught “kitchen guru” who’s appeared on the Food Network and in many publications.
Varney offered ideas for adding sensory and culinary herbs to the garden and then using those herbs to create a home that restores and balances the senses. His recipe for Brioche Breakfast Buns with Scented Geranium Pesto One brought numerous emails requesting the recipe. So, Varney has graciously shared it here.
If you are a member of The Herb Society of America and you missed this inspiring webinar, you may view it and many others in the Members Only section of the HSA website. If you are not a member, visit http://www.herbsociety.org to join.
Brioche Breakfast Buns with Scented Geranium Pesto
Do you love scented geraniums, but you’re unsure what to do with them in the kitchen? Brioche breakfast buns with rose-scented geranium pesto will be hit with your friends, family and the love in your life. The luscious buns, with an amazing flavor from rose geranium leaves, have always been a hit with my classes and friends.
NOTE: Plan ahead because the dough must be refrigerated overnight. Know that they can be made ahead and frozen before being iced. Simply reheat and top with the glaze before serving.
½ cup warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
1 tablespoon instant-rise, active yeast
2 ½ cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
10 ounces (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes at room temperature
Canola oil for glazing bowl
Scented Geranium Pesto
1 ½ cups sugar
12 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
18 rose geranium leaves, roughly chopped
Zest from 3 oranges
¼ cup chopped pecans
NOTE: The scented-geranium pesto is also good spread on pound cake, in empanadas or swirled into cheesecake.
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons rose flower water (we use URBANherbal’s rose flower water)
4 tablespoons whipping cream
Make the brioche dough: Combine the warm water and yeast in a glass measuring cup. Set aside to proof for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbly and the yeast is totally dissolved.
Sift the flours with the sugar. Place in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and add the salt. Add the eggs and beat together for 1 minute at low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the yeast and continue to beat at low speed for 5 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape the dough from the dough hook, then beat at low speed for another 5 minutes.
Add about ¼ of the butter cubes at a time, beating just to incorporate after each addition. Once all of the butter has been added, beat for 10 minutes at medium speed.
Oil a large bowl with canola oil and wipe the entire bowl on the inside with a paper towel. Turn the dough to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm draft free spot until doubled in bulk, bout 1 ½ hours.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and work out all the air bubbles by folding the dough over on itself several times while pressing down on it. Re-oil the bowl lightly and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Make the scented-geranium pesto: Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor, fitted with steel blade. Process until a smooth paste forms. Refrigerate until almost ready to use. Bring to room temperature before using.
Compose rolls: Line a large baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured work surface. Gently flatten the dough, removing all air bubbles. Roll the dough out into a 16 x 12- inch rectangle. Be sure to keep the corners squared so the dough will roll evenly.
Starting one inch from the edge of the long side of the dough, spread with the rose-scented geranium pesto. Extend the pesto to the edges on the short side and stopping from the top on the long side. Now, starting at the long side nearest you, roll the dough like a jelly roll.
When the dough is completely rolled, pinch the seams together and turn the roll so that it’s seam side down. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1 ½ – inch buns using forceful downward cuts. Place the buns on the parchment-prepared baking sheet, cut sides down, allowing at least 2 inches between each bun.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make the glaze: While rolls are rising, combine ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to make a medium-stiff paste with no lumps of powdered sugar. Set aside.
Bake the rolls: When the rolls have risen, bake them in the preheated oven until lightly browned and they sound hollow when thumped on the bottoms, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack, set over a baking sheet. Spoon the glaze over the hot rolls, covering liberally and using all of the glaze. Allow the rolls to cool slightly before serving.
NOTE: If you wish to bake ahead of time, don’t glaze the rolls. Reheat just before serving, then spoon on the glaze and serve.