Few things are as good as warm vanilla pastries for breakfast, with a mug of tea or a cup of coffee. The cottage cheese cuts down on the amount of fat in these pastries, and it gives them a rich and moist texture. Crunchy on the outside and perfectly soft and fluffy on the inside. But the most important part about these pinwheels is the vanilla.
If you use the whole vanilla beans (as directed in the recipe), you will get a stronger aroma. When you cut the bean in half, you expose more of the surface area to the milk, which gives so much more flavour. By any means, if you cannot get whole vanilla beans or you want a milder flavour, use a good vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. They are best served fresh and hot from the oven, on their own or dusted with a bit of icing sugar, or possibly with a fruit sauce.
400 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons dried yeast
100 grams sugar
100 grams cottage cheese
50 ml vegetable oil
150 ml warm whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean
1 beaten egg (for brushing)
First take the whole milk, pour it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and put it over low heat, just to warm it up slightly. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds and put them in the saucepan with the milk, then put the beans as well. Turn up the heat and let the milk come to a boil. When it comes to a boil, remove it from heat, cover it and let it cool down slightly. This way the vanilla will permeate the milk, and it will cool down enough not to kill the yeast.
When the milk is nearly ready to be used, sift the flour twice, put it in a large bowl, add the yeast and sugar, and whisk well. In another bowl, cream together the cottage cheese with the egg, then add the oil and blend well using an electric mixer. Remove the beans from the milk, make a well in the centre of the flour, add the cheese mixture and the warm milk and mix the dough, first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it for another 5 minutes, to make it smooth and elastic. If the dough sticks to the board or your hands, add another tablespoon of the flour. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it and let it rise, in a warm spot, for about an hour.
When the dough has risen, gently knead it on a floured work surface, and divide it into 8 equal parts. Shape each part into a ball, then let them rest for about 10 minutes. Roll each ball of dough into a circle about 20 cm (8") in diameter. Roll it up into a tight roll, then roll it further using your hands, into a very long rope shape (about 35 cm/14" in length). Shape the dough into a pinwheel, tucking the ends underneath, so the pastry doesn't unroll during the baking. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and let them rise for the second time (about 30 minutes). Just before baking, brush them with a beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven, at 190˚C (375˚F) for 12-15 minutes. Serve warm. Yields 4 servings. ©Tina Vesić