Over the long MLK weekend Rachael and I decided to do some baking for fun as a way to break up the monotony of homework and Netflix bingeing (Rachael’s started her most stressful semester of grad school, which means that most of her free time is spent doing work of one sort or another; baking was a nice reprieve for a few hours). Besides the rosemary olive bread that we did, I had an itch to try making this recipe from Kitchen Overlord that was circulating around social media a couple months ago. As someone who’s never read Dune, and who only kind of half watched the David Lynch movie adaptation a few years ago, I’m not exactly part of the fandom being targeted by this recipe, but the pictures looked so cool that I really wanted to try making it. If, in the course of baking, I also got to devour a giant cinnamon roll, I was okay with that too.
So, here’s the thing about this recipe that anyone who might want to replicate it should know up front. It’s written with tons of jokes and references to the Dune universe, and some of the actual baking instructions get obscured by all the nerdery. Even after finishing our worm, Rachael and I still think that we probably made some missteps in places because we didn’t fully understand what we were supposed to be doing (I actually had to remake the dough on this one because the first batch didn’t have enough yeast or water in it to be workable). We might have let it rise one too many times, and the final bake time ended up having to be doubled because it just wasn’t done all the way through after twenty-five minutes. Nonetheless, if you want to make a dessert that’ll make an impressive looking centerpiece, this one’s pretty fun and you can’t argue with the results.
The recipe says to use a masala spice mix for flavoring, and in our first attempt Rachael and I tried using chat masala, but we found that the mixture had a strong aftertaste of eggs that we figured would be too weird for a sweet dessert, so we scrapped our first mixture and went with a simple pumpkin pie spice blend. Here you can see Rachael spreading it over the rolled out (second) batch of dough.
One of the major problems we had on the bake was with the roll bursting in the oven. The recipe warns that you should roll the worm up loosely so it has room to rise while it’s in the oven, and we discovered that even being careful of that we still didn’t make the worm floppy enough. It looked really impressive though.
We didn’t have any parchment paper so we couldn’t bake the worm on our aerated pizza pan for fear of leakage, so instead we snaked it around on one of our cookie sheets with a silicone mat underneath.
When I showed my students this picture, they said it looked like a large intestine. I think it looks like a pretty decent approximation of a sandworm myself, but I’m probably biased. You can see where the filling burst out; it’s a good thing we decided not to put it on the pizza pan!
After we finished baking it, I cut open a slice to see how it looked in profile. There are definite spirals there, but they’re extremely flat. The outside crust ended up being pretty tough with hardly any sweetness, but the inside was better. We made up a basic cream cheese icing to spread on top, and I’d say it was pretty necessary to the end result.
This bake was a lot of fun to do, but it was surprisingly even more work than the relatively more complex recipe for the olive bread. I’m doubtful I’d want to try this again, even knowing where the pitfalls that we made the first time are, but it was definitely worth the trouble to do once.