BAGELS!

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We got about 9 inches of snow last night, so I was gifted with a wonderful

SNOW DAY!

Snowed in with nowhere to go and nothing to do…What better way to spend my unexpected day off, than by crossing a challenging item off of my Baking Bucket List!

I pulled out my brand new Baking with Julia cookbook and was thumbing through it and came across her recipe for

BAGELS

Let me tell you, this recipe is 3 1/2 pages long. I knew I had my work cut out for me. And I resolved to do it the old fashioned way, with a wooden spoon and hand kneading. Phew, I got my workout in for the day, it’s tougher than I remembered.

My bagels aren’t the smoothest, or most beautiful bagels that I have ever seen, but they are delicious! They are soft and moist in the center, and nicely browned on the outside. Plus you can season them however you’d like! I used garlic salt and kosher salt on the first batch and on the second I used garlic salt, kosher salt, and a cajun spice mix. I can’t wait to have one for breakfast with some cream cheese smear and a coffee. Mmm.

I typed out Julia Child’s recipe below (yes, it took me quite a while). They are really very yummy, and I am proud to have accomplished the feat of making these babies from scratch. Enjoy, and please report back if you decide to try making some bagels of your own! I’d like to know how to smooth them out to make them prettier 🙂

BAGELS

Inactive: 5 hours     Bake: 35 minutes     Yield: 10 bagels

Ingredients

Creamy yeast

Creamy yeast

Bagels

  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 2 1/4 cups tepid water (80-90 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (optional)
  • 6 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

Water Bath

After the 1 hour rise!

After the 1 hour rise!

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

Directions

Brush the inside of a large bowl with some melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining butter for coating the top of the dough.

Mixing and Kneading

  1. Whisk the yeast into 1/4 cup of the tepid water. Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy.
  2. Pour the remaining 2 cups water into a large bowl and add the shortening. Add the yeast mixture along with 2 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and the black pepper, if you’re using it, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix.
  3. Stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon, add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stopping when you have a soft, sticky dough that is difficult to stir. (You will probably use almost 6 cups of flour, but the dough will still be soft and sticky-and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be). Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Add additional flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface.

*Can use an electric mixer

Rise

After the refrigerator!

After the refrigerator!

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in bulk.

Chilling the Dough

  • Deflate the dough, cover as before, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or, if it’s more convenient, overnight.

*At this point, the dough can be well wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days

  1. When you’re ready to make the bagels, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If the bagels are to bake on a stone, preheat the stone too and generously dust a peel with cornmeal. If they will bake on baking sheets, brush the sheets with vegetable oil (or spray) and dust them with cornmeal. For added flavor, use one or all of the suggested topping ingredients in combination with cornmeal to dust the peel or sheets.
  2. While the oven preheats, fill a stockpot with water and bring the water to a rapid boil.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets or trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into 1 of the towels and place both sheets close to your work surface.
Ready for the boil.

Ready for the boil.

Shaping the Dough

  1. Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half; cover and chill one piece of the dough while you work with the other. Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel.
  2. To form a bagel and develop the gluten cloak that will give it its structure, draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top. Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until you have a perfectly round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot or pleat at the top. Turn the dough over so that the knot is against the work surface and plunge your index finger into the center of the dough. Wiggle your finger around in the hole to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other and start rotating the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a diameter of 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough.

Water Bath

Boiling!

Boiling!

  1. Add the sugar and baking soda to the boiling water. With a large slotted skimming spoon or slotted spatula, lower the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water. Don’t crowd them-the bagels should swim around in the water without touching one another; it’s better to boil them in batches than to cram them into the pot all at one time. The bagels will sink to the bottom of the pot when you put them in, then rise to the top. Once the bagels have surfaced, boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, flipping them over gently with the skimmer. Remove the bagels, shaking the skimmer over the stockpot to et ride of some of the excess water, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up.
  2. Keeping the smoothest sides up, transfer the bagels to the peel or prepared baking sheet. (Work quickly, because the wet bagels have a tendency to stick to the towel)
After the boil, ready for the oven!

After the boil, ready for the oven!

Glaze

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve and brush each bagel with the glaze. Try not to let the glaze drip onto the baking sheet or peel, or it will glue down the bagels. Don’t worry if the bagels look wrinkled-they’ll smooth out in the oven. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if you’re using a topping, or more than one, sprinkle it, or them, evenly over the bagels now.

Baking

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

  1. Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the bagels in the oven and immediately toss the ice cubs and water onto the oven floor (or into the hot pan). Quickly close the oven door to capture the steam produced by the ice, turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the bagels remain in the oven for 5 more minutes. Open the oven door and leave the bagels in the oven for another 5 minutes. Transfer the bagels to a rack and cool.
  2. Before baking the next batch of bagels, be certain to bring the oven temperature back to 500 degrees F.

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Enjoy!

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French Baguettes

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My mom just bought me Baking with Julia

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A cookbook that every aspiring baker must have in his/her collection, and one that, as my mother says, I will cherish my whole life.

While I was waiting for the delivery of this little culinary masterpiece, I managed to work up quite the appetite for some homemade bread. I mean just look at that beautiful cover photography! 

However, I just could not wait for Julia’s recipe to arrive, so I decided to go ahead and make a Baguette recipe I came across online. I know I know, I built you all up for a Julia Child recipe review, but I’m afraid I must let you down. 

 I promise to try hers soon. And many many many other things.

The recipe I did try is from the Cooking Channel TV website, titled Homemade French Baguettes which can be found here and is posted below.  

It was very easy to follow and quite quick for a yeast recipe! 

Baking with the ice underneath creating a beautifully crispy golden crust, with a moist and light center. Yum.

May not be Julia Child, but these baguettes are delicious nonetheless.

French Baguettes

Prep: 15 minutes     Inactive: 1 hour     Bake: 20 minutes
Before kneading

Before kneading

Ingredients

  • 2 envelopes dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • Cornmeal, for dusting pan
  • 3-4 ice cubes
Directions
  1. Combine the honey, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir to combine and let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and begins to foam, 5 minutes. 
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook and slowly add in the yeast mixture. Gradually add 1 cup warm water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball that is not too wet (you may not need all of the water). If the dough is sticky, add a little bit more flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 6 minutes. You can do the thumbprint test: press in the dough with your thumb and it should bounce back when it’s ready. 

    Punching down the dough.

    Punching down the dough.

  3. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a dishcloth, so it doesn’t dry out. Let rest in a warm environment until doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Shape into 2 baguettes by making a flat rectangle out of your dough, then folding the top and bottom towards the middle, like an envelope, and sealing the seam with your fingers. Keep repeating the folding and sealing, stretching the rectangle lengthwise as you go, until it’s about 12 to 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold and seal either end to round. Flip seam-side down and place on a sheet pan or baguette pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. Score the tops of the loaves, making deep diagonal slits 1/2-inch deep, cover with a dishcloth and let rise in a warm environment until they have doubled in size, 25 minutes. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position your oven racks with one on the bottom and the other in the middle. Place an oven-safe (non-glass) bowl or pan on the bottom rack. 
  6. When your bread has doubled for the second time, remove the towel and quickly and simultaneously, slide the sheet tray with the baguettes onto the middle rack while carefully throwing the ice cubes into the bowl on the bottom rack. The ice will create a burst of steam that will give you a nice crispy crust. Quickly shut the oven door so no steam escapes. Bake the baguettes until golden brown, 15 minutes. 

*Cook’s Note: If you have a glass window on your oven, place a towel over it when throwing the ice in, hot glass can shatter if ice touches it.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!


Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Enjoy!

Southern Corn Muffins

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As promised in my Jambalaya post, here is the Southern Corn Muffins recipe!

Now, I know I usually claim that everything I make is yummy and delicious and amazing, but today I simply cannot.

These muffins were kind of bland (which may not be such a bad thing as my Jambalaya was mucho spicy!).

The bacon fat and corn kernels were a saving grace in these muffins, though not enough to enable them to stand alone.

I utilized the recipe for Southern Corn Bread (pg. 777) from the 1997 Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. I followed it almost exactly, but added frozen corn kernels, and baked in a muffin pan rather than a 9-inch cast iron skillet (which I unfortunately do not own), or a 8 x 8 glass baking pan.

Southern Corn Muffins

Prep: 10 minutes     Bake: 15 minutes     Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

Whisking in my buttercream

Whisking in my buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

  • 1 3/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using buttermilk with salt)

Whisk until foamy in another bowl:

  • 2 large eggs

Whisk in:

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Optional add ins:

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

Directions

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

  1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Grease muffin pan with bacon fat. Place in oven until the fat smokes.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just blended, fold in corn kernels. Pour evenly in to muffin pan.
  4. Bake until the top is browned and the center feels firm when pressed, about 15 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately!

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Enjoy!

Margherita Pizza

Before baking!

Before baking!

Okay so I have a confession to make.

After getting my Masters in Special Education this December, I have really been giving my brain a rest. I have been taking some time to just explore the things I enjoy doing such as baking, crocheting, crafting, and reading. I have a Bachelors degree in Literature, and I am embarrassed to admit I’ve been reading what I would consider ‘pop trash’.

Eat, Pray, Love

I also recognize that I am like 5-6 years late on this trend which makes me even more lame. Nonetheless, I just completed the section where she is eating her way across Italy and I have been craving a good Neopolitan-style Margherita Pizza.

This is as close as I could come.

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Pretty close, and AMAZING!

I scoured the Internet for a tried and true dough recipe and wished that Peter Reinhart’s American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza was part of my cookbook collection as it seems to be the universally accepted go-to book for pizza recipes. I finally settled on Bobby Flay’s Dough Recipe from Food Network after reading some reader reviews.

Finding a sauce recipe also took me quite some time, and I decided to use Mario Batali’s Pizza Margherita recipe which includes both a dough and sauce recipe.

Making both the dough and the sauce was fun. As the dough was rising, I had plenty of time to make my sauce!

AND I GOT TO CROSS OFF ANOTHER ITEM FROM MY BAKING BUCKET LIST!

I did have a little trouble transferring my prepared pizza to my pizza stone in my oven… I need a pizza peel if I try to do this again. I wish I could have photographed it. Me and Wills with hands full of dough and spatulas trying to ease the pizza on to the stone without losing any cheese or sauce in our tiny kitchen in our poorly-lit apartment. Thank god we didn’t flip it over on to the floor, I think I would have cried myself to sleep.

That brings me to another point. Sorry about the flash photography, I obviously prefer natural lighting, however the sun sets at about 6 pm here in West Lafayette, IN and I could NOT wait until tomorrow to devour this pizza!

Here are the recipes:

Pizza Dough

Prep: 20 minutes     Inactive: 1 hour, 10 minutes     Yield: 2 (14 inch) pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling (Chef’s Note: Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can’t find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour which will give you a chewier crust.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons

Directions

After the rise!

After the rise!

  1. Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball*. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
  2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

*I did 3 1/2 cups to start, then needed to add 3 tablespoons to get the right consistency

Classic Marinara Sauce

Prep: 15 minutes     Cook: 15 minutes     Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree (about 1 (28-ounce) can) roughly chopped
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • Sprig fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

My dough spread out in to my pizza crust!

My dough spread out in to my pizza crust!

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now, store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Top with fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves and bake for 10-14 minutes until the cheese gets bubbly and the bottom of the dough starts to brown!

This pizza was so delicious! The crust was divine. It was crispy on the edges but soft inside. I will definitely use the crust recipe in the future!

The sauce was a little runny, I will experiment with how to thicken it up slightly and report back.

I also made a barbeque chicken pizza for Wills 🙂

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Enjoy!

English Muffins

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Yesterday I posted my very ambitious Baking Bucket List and today, I wasted no time in getting busy crossing things off!

I was thumbing through a little book titled Scones, Muffins & Tea Cakes where I happened upon a recipe for Classic English Muffins (pg. 41). I had never even thought about people actually MAKING English Muffins! Sure I buy them from the grocery store, toast them, and slather them in cream cheese or jam, but I never even considered that these little gems could possibly be made at home! Of course they could! Why the heck not?

English Muffin rings

English Muffin rings

 

I did need to purchase English Muffin Rings in order to complete this recipe, but at only $4.99 for 4 rings, it was worth the experience of actually making English Muffins from scratch! I was able to find them at a kitchen specialty store in town, but you can find them easily on Amazon.com for a comparable price if your stores do not carry them. And they are versatile… you can use them for…. English Muffins… Crumpets (basically the same as English Muffins)… an Egg Ring… Biscuit Cutters… the list goes on and on (but not really).

Now, the recipe calls for “1 package (scant 1 tablespoon) active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water” and I wasn’t quite sure what ‘scant 1 tablespoon’ meant so I looked it up online. It simply means “just barely”, so use almost a full tablespoon, but not a jam-packed full tablespoon.

Also, whenever a yeast recipe calls for a liquid to be ‘warm’ I use my candy thermometer to make sure the temperature is between 105 and 115 degrees F. 

I have also learned that during the rise phase, the dough should be in a warm spot. I learned a trick from a previous recipe where you preheat your oven to 200 degrees F, maintain that temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off. When your dough is ready, cover and pop in the warm oven for the duration of the rise! 

This is the stickiest dough I have ever worked with! So elastic!

Dough after the first rise.

Dough after the first rise.

As for the final product…

OH. MY. GAWD.

These things are scrumptious. I amazed myself with this one. Golden brown and firm on the outside, soft and incredibly delicious inside.

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I WILL DEFINITELY MAKE THESE AGAIN, AND I WISH I HAD MORE.

Classic English Muffins

Prep: 20 minutes     Inactive: 1 1/2 hours    Bake: 20 minutes     Yield: 8 muffins

Ingredients

Before flipping

Before flipping

  • 1 package (scant 1 tablespoon) active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, sugar, water, milk, and salt and stir until well blended. Add in 2 cups of flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the batter is well mixed, stretchy, and sticky. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

    On the cooling rack!

    On the cooling rack!

  2. Add the dissolved baking soda, butter, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour to the batter and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 8 buttered 3 1/2 inch nonstick muffin rings on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spoon the batter into the rings, filling them half full. Let stand until the dough has doubled and fill the muffin rings, approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Place the baking sheet with the muffins in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, with a spatula, lift the filled rings and flip them over. Continue to bake for 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer the muffins, still in their rings, to a cooling rack. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  6. Remove the rings and slice each muffin in half with a bread knife. If desired, toast them before spreading with your favorite topping.
English Muffin breakfast sandwich! YUM!

English Muffin breakfast sandwich! YUM!

Enjoy!

Olive Garden Breadsticks

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I am told that not everything I bake can be sweet.

That’s a challenge, because my sweet tooth smothers any of my other sensibilities on almost all occasions.

Lately however, I have been craving pasta. A big heavy heaping plate of pasta. A dig in with two hands, mow down, don’t come up for air, pasta night.

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Alas, tonight I am making pasta, and what can I bake that perfectly complements a pasta dish? BREADSTICKS!

I was searching for a recipe online and came across this report from ABC News where Todd Wilbur claims to have uncovered the top secret breadsticks recipe from Olive Garden!

I HAD TO TRY IT OUT.

This is another yeast recipe, though I am really becoming more comfortable using this ingredient! It’s not nearly as intimidating as people make it out to be, and it feels so good when you can see your dough actually rising. A-HA! It’s working!

This recipe does take a considerable amount of time with its two rise phases, each lasting about 1 1/2 hours. But after you have whipped together the dough, you are free to go about your day in between rises.

Olive Garden Breadsticks

Prep: 20 minutes     Rise: 2-3 hours     Bake: 12 minutes     Yield: 12 breadsticks

Ingredients

My dough has risen!

My dough has risen!

Dough
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115 degrees F)
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
Topping
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions

  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until it becomes foamy on top.

    Ready for the second rise.

    Ready for the second rise.

  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer to mix the softened butter into the flour. When yeast mixture is foamy, pour it into the flour mixture and use the dough hook on your mixture to combine ingredients. Knead dough for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a covered container and let it sit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until it doubles in size. When dough has doubled, measure out 2-ounce portions and roll dough between your hands or on a countertop to form sticks that are 7 inches long.
  4. Place dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, cover and set aside for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size once more.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Bake breadsticks for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. When breadsticks come out of the oven, immediately brush with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.
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Enjoy!

Cheese Rolls

Ready for the 2nd rise!

Ready for the 2nd rise!

High of 15 degrees Fahrenheit in West Lafayette, Indiana today?

With a wind chill that makes it feel subzero?

Sounds like the perfect day to try out a new Cheddar Cauliflower Soup recipe, and bake some delicious and savory rolls to accompany the entree! These rolls just may steal the show! 

This recipe was taken from the same publication as my Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Chocolate Chippers, the 2012 Best-Loved Reader Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens.

Cheese Rolls

Prep: 40 minutes     Rise: 1 hour, 40 minutes     Bake: 25 minutes     Yield: 9 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine the warm water and yeast, stirring to dissolve yeast. Stir in sugar. Add 1 cup of the flour, the egg, shortening, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  3. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 9x9x2 inch baking pan; set aside. For filling, in medium bowl combine cheese, onion, chives, and garlic salt; set aside.
  4. Roll dough into a 15×12 inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling over dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Roll up rectangle, starting from a long side. Pinch to seal seam. But into nine slices. Arrange in the prepared baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (About 40 minutes).
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; serve warm.
Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

 

Enjoy!

Best Ever Banana Bread (kinda)

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Everyone has been there before. You buy a bunch of bananas, nobody eats them, then they end up looking like this:

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The obvious solution? Whip up some banana bread. I did a Google search for “Best Banana Bread Ever” and found this recipe for Best-Ever Banana Bread (honestly!) from http://www.food.com and thought I’d give it a whirl.

This banana bread was NOT the best ever for a couple of reasons.

  1. The banana bread itself turned out so moist that it was almost mushy.
    1. EDIT- http://www.food.com has this nifty little feature where you can scale down (or up) a recipe. I had scaled the recipe down from 2 loaves of banana bread to 1 loaf. The comment of 1 3/4 cups of bananas in the ingredients list was not scaled down! No wonder it took me so many more bananas than the recipe suggested! Also, no wonder why my bread was mushy! WHOOPS! Live and learn 🙂
  2. The topping directions needed to be more clear. I kept my mixture going on low for some time and it never really reached honey consistency, but without an approximate time that it should be cooking, and without a recommended temperature I was kind of in the dark on what this was supposed to look like.
  3. The topping when dry becomes hard and crumbles when cut.

This recipe was disappointing. My first one that I was not entirely thrilled with! I couldn’t even get a really good picture of the bread after I sliced it because the topping crumbled so bad! It is yummy and tastes like caramel, but looks so unappealing.

Maybe others out there will have better luck with it than I did! Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Here it is:

Best Ever Banana Bread (kinda)

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: 1 hour

Topping Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*

Batter Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed (or 1 3/4 c, the bananas have to be so ripe that they’re nearly black!)**

    Right before going in the oven

    Ready to go in the oven

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ***
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Mash bananas, beat egg and add to the bananas. Add vanilla and buttermilk to banana mixture. Mix well and add to creamed butter and sugar. Sift together flour, soda and salt; add to banana mixture, beat well.
  3. Pour into a greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; bake 45 to 50 minutes (I find this bread needs over an hour) or until bread pulls away from sides of pan; add topping.
  4. To prepare Topping: Melt butter in saucepan; add sugar and milk; cook until syrupy (like honey); remove from heat and add chopped pecans. Pour over bread**** spreading to all the corners and place under broiler until bubbly and brown.
  5. Watch closely (this takes around 1 minute- maybe even less!).
Banana Bread with topping

Banana Bread with topping

*To toast pecans, grease a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, or until pecans become aromatic, at 350 degrees

**I actually had to mash 5 bananas to make 1 3/4 cups!

*** I used 1 teaspoon vanilla

**** Use immediately or this topping will harden!

Slice of Banana Bread

Slice of Banana Bread

Pretzel Dogs

Okay so today I cheated. I totally cheated.

I did NOT try an entirely new recipe… rather I adapted my most recent post.

I found this amazing recipe for Soft Pretzels from Food Network’s Alton Brown and baked them up yesterday. They turned out so beautifully I altered the same recipe to make dinner for my family last night!

        PRETZEL DOGS!

Who doesn’t love a pretzel dog? I made the pretzels according to the recipe I included in my Soft Pretzels post. After rolling the dough in to a 24 inch rope, I simply wrapped the dough around a thawed anddry hot dog. I used Hebrew National all beef hotdogs.

SAM_0379Continue following the original recipe, placing each dough covered hot dog in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, brush on egg yolk wash, sprinkle some coarse salt on top, then bake for 12-14 minutes.

 The recipe makes 8 pretzels, therefore this made 8 pretzel dogs. 

When doubling the recipe, (I had to because my family is so large) make the dough in separate batches. Otherwise your electric mixer may be in for a world of damage, EKE!

Let that pretzel dog cozy up to some deliciously spicy mustard, and ENJOY!

SAM_0378

Soft Pretzels

SAM_0375

I have been drinking a lot of craft beer lately. ALOT. Today’s recipe was inspired by the beers I’ve been consuming (Southern Tier- Unearthly, Greenbush- Retribution).

And what goes great with great beer?

They go together like peanut butter & jelly … like bread & butter … like tuna fish & chocolate mousse…

Soft Pretzels & Beer!

Can you think of anything better in this whole world?

Again, this is a first for me, I have never made pretzels before! I had always been slightly intimidated by the thought, but after reading through the Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe by Alton Brown, I thought, I CAN DO THIS! And I did! And they’re fantastic!!!

Just give me some spicy mustard and I am one happy lady!

These babies took about 2 hours start to finish, but don’t let that scare you off! They’re beautiful, and they will be sure to impress!

Soft Pretzels

Prep: 30 minutes     Inactive: 1 hour     Cook: 25 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110-115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

Directions

  1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

    Egg yolk wash

    Egg yolk wash

  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
  3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  4. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Fresh out of the oven, yum

Fresh out of the oven, yum

Enjoy!