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Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

Crumpets

I’m working on a new story and crumpets play a key part in the tale, so I decided to make some. To my knowledge I’ve never even tasted them before, so it would be a good experiment.

Wanting to use a true British recipe, I reached out to a wonderful friend in England and she shared one that was easy enough even I could follow the step by step directions.

For all my British friends out there – my apologies for messing with your long-standing traditions! Here is a link to some crumpet history, if you are unfamiliar with them.

The key component of crumpets, from my limited understanding, is to have plenty of holes in the surface for butter to melt into. Crumpets were quite popular for tea time in the 1800s and many British families enjoy them today, particularly for breakfast. You can top them with jam, eat them plain – but most definitely serve them with a spot of tea.

Ingredients

Ingredients

 

Mix flour and yeast together.

Mix flour and yeast together.

Stir in milk mixture.

Stir in milk mixture.

Beat until you have a smooth batter (about 3-4 minutes).

Beat until you have a smooth batter (about 3-4 minutes).

Cover and let rise for 20 minutes to an hour. The dough should be full of lovely little holes.

Cover and let rise for 20 minutes to an hour. The dough should be full of lovely little holes.

Stir in water mixture.

Stir in water mixture.

You want the consistency to be like heavy cream.

You want the consistency to be like heavy cream. Cover and let rest 20 minutes.

On medium heat, using a griddle or cast iron skillet, heat a little oil. You will need rings (and you can purchase crumpet rings, but I used these pancake rings I had on hand. You could also use a round cookie cutter, a jar lid, etc.) Make sure the rings are well greased then spoon in batter.

On medium heat, using a griddle or cast iron skillet, heat a little oil. You will need rings (and you can purchase crumpet rings, but I used these pancake rings I had on hand. You could also use a round cookie cutter, a jar ring, etc.) Make sure the rings are well greased then spoon in batter.

 

Cook about two minutes, until tops are bubbly. Remove the ring then turn over. I used a regular dinner knife to flip them over and it worked great.

Cook about two minutes, until tops are bubbly. Remove the ring then turn over. I used a regular dinner knife to flip them over and it worked great.

 

See the holes in the surface? Holes mean places for butter to drip into and create all manner of deliciousness.

See the holes in the surface? Holes mean places for butter to drip into and create all manner of deliciousness.

Eat them hot out of the pan with butter, top with some jam if you want a little sweetness to it. If you don't serve immediately, make sure you toast them before eating. They are much better warm than cold.

Eat them hot out of the pan with butter, top with some jam if you want a little sweetness to it. If you don’t serve immediately, make sure you toast them before eating. They are much better warm than cold.

Crumpets

2 cups flour

1 package instant yeast

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups warm milk

2/3-1 cup warm water

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

oil for cooking

Mix flour and yeast in a bowl. Set aside.

Warm milk until it no longer feels cool to the touch, but isn’t hot. (Think baby bottle temperature.) Add sugar and stir until dissolved then stir into flour mixture with a wooden spoon.

Continue stirring 3-4 minutes until batter is smooth. (This is great exercise for your arms!) Cover and set aside for at least 20 minutes, up to an hour.

It should rise up in the bowl and have holes on the surface.

Fill a measuring cup almost full of warm water. Stir in the baking soda and salt until dissolved, then slowly add to the batter. You want the consistency to be like heavy cream. If it still seems too thick, add a little more water. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Pour a little oil in the bottom. You will need rings for cooking the crumpets. I used pancake rings, but you could use a round cookie cutter, a jar ring, etc. Make sure your rings are well-greased inside. (You can also purchase special crumpet rings if you are so inclined.)

Spoon the batter into the rings until they are about three-fourths full. Cook a couple of minutes until bubbles appear and the surface looks set. Remove rings, turn over and cook another two to three minutes.

Serve immediately or toast before eating with plenty of butter.

She Who Needs Some Tea with her Crumpets

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bird bread finishedI saw a photo on Facebook of bird bread a while back. I knew I had to give it a try at some point. When I decided to go with a Wish It Were Spring Theme for my book club gathering, it seemed like the perfect thing to make.

Of course, by then I could no longer find a link to the recipe or directions, so I decided to wing it (yes, pun intended).

It wasn’t hard to do but if you are looking for uniformity, that would so not be my name.

bread dough ingredients

Ingredients. Plus you’ll need mini chocolate chips and slivered almonds.

Start by scalding milk with oil and sugar.

Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, you can add in a package of yeast.

 

Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let rest for a minute.

Stir in yeast and four cups of flour.

 

Place the pan in a warm area, cover with a tea towel and let the yeast do its thing for about an hour. I like to put my pan in front of the fire. It is warm and makes the dough smell heavenly.

Punch the dough down again and start pinching off pieces about the size of a golf ball.

bird bread dough ballsYou’ll have a couple dozen balls when you are finished.

bird bread roll outThen roll those balls into a long rope. I found about 12 inches worked well.

bird bread folding in knotYou are basically going to tie a knot with the dough. Just fold one end under and one end over.

bird bread on panIt will look something like this when you get it pulled together. The end that is “over” is the head and the “under” end is the tail.

bird bread cut tailfeathersTake a pair of clean kitchen shears and cut little slices into the tail. This makes the feathers.

bird bread tailfeathersSee? How cute is that?

bird bread almonds for beakUsing slivered almonds for the beak

bird bread beak inBeaky…

bird bread eyes with chipsAnd mini chocolate chips for the eyes (you could use cloves, but chips sounded tastier to me!).

bird bread ready to bakeAnd your birdy should look like this when you get done. Let the dough rest about ten minutes then bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

bird bread bakedAnd it looks all golden brown and lovely like this. Oh, and poke the chips so the narrow end goes into the dough instead of the flat end. It works much better!

Bird Bread plated 2Tweet, tweet!

Bird Bread

2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tbsp. salt

Scald the milk, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat (bring heat to nearly a boil, but don’t let it boil!). Set aside and cool to lukewarm (think temperature of a baby’s bottle). Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and let rest for one minute.

Add four cups of the flour and stir until just combined. It is going to be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place for an hour.

Remove the towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and final 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to combine.

Pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll into ropes about 12 inches long. Fold each rope into a knot (just like tying your shoe) with one end up and one end down. The up end will be the bird’s head, the down end will be it’s tail.

Place on a baking sheet.

Using a clean pair of kitchen shears, cut feathers into the tails. I made about four half-inch slices.

For the beaks, poke a slivered almond into the head where it looks like  beak should go. Add mini chocolate chips (pointy-end facing the dough) for eyes.

Let the dough rest for about ten minutes (preheat oven to 350), then bake for about 12 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.

You can’t help but smile with one of these little birds on your dinner plate!

She Who Loved These Little Birds

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bread dough hamber patty with heart cutter

If your true love is a carnivore like mine, then today’s recipe will be a big hit! Make your meat-eater happy with these fun Heart Shaped Hamburgers. (Sorry for the photo of raw meat right up front…)

On a side note – if you don’t want to make burgers, you could also cut the meat into heart shapes for use with pasta (think meatballs, except in the shape of hearts).

We’ll start with the dough for the buns then move on to the burgers.

bread dough ingredientsIngredients for the buns.

Start by scalding milk with oil and sugar.

Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, you can add in a package of yeast.

Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let rest for a minute.

Stir in yeast and four cups of flour.

Place the pan in a warm area, cover with a tea towel and let the yeast do its thing for about an hour. I like to put my pan in front of the fire. It is warm and makes the dough smell heavenly.

When they’ve puffed up a bit, bake them in a 350 degree oven until the tops are golden brown.

bread dough bun sliced openSlice open and build that perfect burger. (And you might not even need to slice, since the two hearts are easily separated.)

bread dough meatFor the burgers, add whatever spices you like to the meat, then flatten it out to  whatever thickness you like. I think ours were about 1/2 inch thick.

bread dough cut out burger pattyUsing the same cookie cutter (so the meat and buns are somewhat uniform), but out heart shapes in the ground beef.

bread dough heart burgers ready to bbq

How fun is that? Grill them or fry them or cook them however you like.

(I may have begged until CC cooked our outside on the BBQ. Good thing the snow is gone and the temps warmed up yesterday!).

bread dough burger on bun

Once the meat is cooked, place it on your bun, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Hamburger Hearts

Dough

2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tbsp. salt

Hamburgers

1-2 pounds of ground beef

spices

your choice of condiments

Scald the milk, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat (bring heat to nearly a boil, but don’t let it boil!). Set aside and cool to lukewarm (think temperature of a baby’s bottle). Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and let rest for one minute.

Add four cups of the flour and stir until just combined. It is going to be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place for an hour.

Remove the towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and final 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to combine.

Roll out and cut into heart-shapes with a cookie cutter. I used one that was about four-inches wide. Place a single layer of hearts on a baking sheet, then place a second layer on top of the first (like you’re making a heart sandwich, except without the filling).

Cover with a tea towel and return to a warm area to rise for another 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When dough is ready, bake for about 10- 15 minutes, until the tops are a lovely golden brown.

You should be able to easily separate the tops and bottoms of your heart-sharped buns, but if not, just got them in half.

While the buns are baking, mix your ground beef with whatever spices you like. Pat it out to whatever thickness you like your burgers then use the  same cookie cutter you cut out the buns with to cut out your burgers.

Cook (grill, fry, toss on the barbecue – whatever you like), then slide onto the bun. The bread will be just slightly bigger because it expands and the meat tends to shrink a little.

Top with your favorite condiments and listen to your meat-eater praise your efforts.

With the cookie-cutter I used, I had 24 hearts or 12 buns. The number you get will depend on the size of your cookie cutter. I used a 1 1/2 pound package of ground beef and got six burgers. You can cut the bread recipe in half if you want to make a smaller batch.

She Who May Have Enjoyed These, Too

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valentine-heart

From now through Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting Valentine themed recipes, craft ideas, tips and more! Check back daily to get in on the fun. I may even do a giveaway next week…

To get things off to a good start, here is a recipe for yummy Coconut French Toast. It’s fast and easy to make – perfect for serving to your sweetie Valentine’s Day morning.

coconut toast plated

Ingredients for making Coconut French Toast.

Ingredients for making Coconut French Toast.

 

Melt butter in  microwave safe bowl. Just takes about 10-15 seconds if your butter isn't right out of the fridge.

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Just takes about 10-15 seconds if your butter isn’t right out of the fridge.

Beat in egg, then add sugar and vanilla. Mix well.

Beat in egg, then add sugar and vanilla. Mix well.

 

Finally stir in coconut.

Finally stir in coconut.

 

Place bread on a baking sheet. (I use foil to cover mine because I don't like scrubbing off any spills.) Spread batter over the bread and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until bread is lightly browned.

Place bread on a baking sheet. (I use foil to cover mine because I don’t like scrubbing off any spills.) Spread batter over the bread and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until bread is lightly browned.

Remove from sheet and top with chocolate syrup, regular syrup, whipped cream, powdered sugar, fruit, or whatever tickles your fancy.

Remove from sheet and top with chocolate syrup, regular syrup, whipped cream, powdered sugar, fruit, or whatever tickles your fancy. If your sweetheart loves coconut, they’ll be sure to thank you for your efforts.

 

Coconut French Toast

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 slices white bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Beat in the egg then add vanilla and sugar, mixing well. Stir in coconut.

Place bread on  baking sheet and spread topping on one side only.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until bread is lightly browned.

Serve with your choice of tempting toppings (like chocolate syrup) and enjoy!

Makes three servings. If you need to serve more, the recipe is easily doubled.

She Who Loves Coconut 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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crescent rollsHave you discovered Pepperidge Farm Flaky Crsecent Rolls yet?

If not, run to the grocery store and get yourself a tube of pastry wonder.

I’ve long been a fan of refrigerated crescent rolls for whipping up quick recipes. I’ve used them as crust for every kind of filling you can think of from breakfast casseroles to meat pockets to danishes.

These rolls, in my humble opinion, far surpass the others for flavor and texture.

I used them recently to make a quiche by just pressing the triangles together in the bottom of this fancy little pan.

norita's pan

I poured in the filling, baked, then turned it upside down on a serving platter.

It looked like this:

norita's pan quiche

How cool is that?

The chicken pot pie I made with this crust as unbelievably good.

The texture, flakiness and flavor is really different from what you expect – and so good.

If you’re looking for something to take a meal from ho-hum to yum, these crescent rolls could be a good option for you. Try them and see what you think.

(Note – Pepperidge Farm doesn’t know me from anyone, I just really like this product.)

She Who Needs To Bake Something

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Zeppole plated

In the midst of writing a historical romance about an Italian girl who loves to cook, I decided to try out a few Italian recipes, trying to stick to selections she would have made in 1900.

Lucky enough to stumble across a cookbook, Italian Cooking, written by Dorothy Daly in 1900, it really helped me know the types of ingredients Caterina would have used and had available as well as cooking methods.

Of my experiments, so far, Captain Cavedweller has liked Zeppole the most.  Zeppole are Italian pastries, deep-fried of various sizes (especially if I’m the one making them!). Typically, they are about four inches in diameter.

I almost had to beat CC away with my spatula when I was finishing making these the other day because he was eating them about as fast as I was cooking them.

Rich and yeasty, they were really simple to make and amazingly tasty.

Start with some very basic ingredients.

Start with some very basic ingredients.

 

Mix the flour and salt together and set aside.

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together and set aside.

 

Mix yeast with warm water and let set about five minutes.

Mix yeast with warm water and let set about five minutes.

 

Lightly whip eggs into yeast.

Lightly whip eggs into yeast.

 

Then add the flour mixture. The dough will be really sticky - not like bread dough.

Then add the flour mixture. The dough will be really sticky – not like bread dough.

 

Set in a warm spot, cover with a dish towel and let rise for about 20 minutes. Stir it back down and repeat the process. Can't you almost smell the yest with those delicious looking bubbles in the dough?

Set in a warm spot, cover with a dish towel and let rise for about 20 minutes. Stir it back down and repeat the process. Can’t you almost smell the yest with those delicious looking bubbles in the dough?

 

Heat about four cups of oil in a heavy saucepan (you want a couple inches of oil in there) and heat over medium-high heat until a bit of dough dropped in sizzles. Drop a heaping spoon of dough (carefully!) into the oil and fry until golden brown. These sweet little babies turn themselves over so you don't have to, unless you want to, then by all means-  go right ahead!

Heat about four cups of oil in a heavy saucepan (you want a couple inches of oil in there) and heat over medium-high heat until a bit of dough dropped in sizzles. Drop a heaping spoon of dough (carefully!) into the oil and fry until golden brown. These sweet little babies turn themselves over so you don’t have to, unless you want to, then by all means- go right ahead!

 

While the Zeppole cool enough to be handled, scoop some powdered sugar into a lunch bag. Drop in a piece of the fried dough and give it a good shake then be prepared to fight people off.

While the Zeppole cool enough to be handled, scoop some powdered sugar into a lunch bag. Drop in a piece of the fried dough and give it a good shake then be prepared to fight people off.

 

You can also mix up some cinnamon and sugar...

You can also mix up some cinnamon and sugar…

And roll them around in it.

And roll them around in it.

See wasn’t that easy?

Zeppole

2/3 cup sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 pkg. instant yeast

1 cup warm water

3 eggs

Mix flour, sugar and salt then set aside.

Empty yeast into a large bowl with warm water. Stir until dissolved then let rest about five minutes.

Add in eggs and whip lightly then add flour and stir until well mixed.

Cover bowl with a dish towel and set in a warm place for 20 minutes. Stir down the dough and let rise again before frying.

Heat a heavy-duty pan of oil on medium-high heat until a drop of dough sizzles in the pan.

Drop a tablespoon full of the dough (think in terms of the size of a plum) into the oil, being carefully not to burn yourself on any splatters and cook until golden brown. The Zeppole turn themselves over when they are cooking, which is fun to watch.

Drain on paper towels or paper bags (to soak up the grease) then drench in sugar. I liked powdered sugar best and CC preferred cinnamon and sugar. Either is delicious.

You can also serve these with fruit or whipped cream, if you so desire. (Or stand over the bag with powdered sugar devouring these like a ravenous beast.)

She Who Loves Italian Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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danish plated

If you are looking for something delicious and simple to make for a brunch (especially with Easter right around the corner), this fast and easy recipe is sure to fit the bill.

It takes just a few minutes to assemble, about twenty to bake and you have a warm, tasty dish ready to serve!

Ingredients

Ingredients

danish dough

Unroll a tube of crescent dough. Place in baking sheet so that points are resting on the edge of the pan. Seal the edges together. You may have to smoosh the dough a little along the edges where it joins to make it work.

Mix powdered sugar with cream cheese.

Mix powdered sugar with cream cheese.

 

Spread over crescent dough.

Spread over crescent dough.

Layer on strawberry jam.

Layer on strawberry jam.

Top with sliced fresh strawberries.

Top with sliced fresh strawberries.

 

Fold up the crescent dough edges so they meet in the middle. Pinch edges to seal.

Fold up the crescent dough edges so they meet in the middle. Pinch edges to seal.

 

Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown and juice is bubbling.

Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown and juice is bubbling.

 

Nuke frosting for about 12 seconds until pourable then drizzle over top of danish.

Nuke frosting for about 12 seconds until pourable then drizzle over top of danish.

Force yourself to share and bask in the compliments sure to come your way.

Force yourself to share and bask in the compliments sure to come your way.

 

Easy Strawberry Cream-Cheese Danish

1 tube of refrigerated crescent dough (8 crescents)

1/2 cup whipped cream cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup strawberry jam

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix powdered sugar with cream cheese, set aside.

Line a baking sheet with foil and give it a quick coat of non-stick cooking spray (you don’t have to line the baking sheet with foil, but I’m lazy and don’t want to scrub baked on berry juice of the pan.)

Line up crescent rolls down the center of the baking sheet, using the straight line of two crescents to form the center line with the pointy ends hanging off the edges of the pan. (It should like you have four sets of pennants in your pan placed back to back – if that makes sense at all. If not, refer to photos above!).

Spread cream cheese down center of crescents, top with jam and berries. Fold ends of crescents toward center, sealing edges by pressing together as best you can. It’s okay if you leave a little “breathing” room here and there. Crimp the ends to seal.

Bake until crescent dough turns a rich golden brown and berry juice if bubbly – about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately drizzle with cream cheese frosting. Put frosting in a microwaveable container (I use a small glass creamer) and nuke for about 12 seconds. Pour over top of danish and serve while still warm.

She Who Liked This Way Too Much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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