Hot Stuff

Apologies if you end up burning your tongue, but I think this jelly delivery system is worth taking the risk.

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Jammy Biscuits

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

Jam or jelly

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening with a knife.

Add the milk, and knead just until the dough comes together.

Press dough out about 1/2″ thick, and cut circles from it with the rim of a cup.

Make a well in the middle of each biscuit and fill it with jam.

Bake 12 minutes.

Delicious while still hot, or will keep for a few days.

Hip To Be Square

Who says english muffins have to be round?

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Here’s another recipe that can help cut down on grocery spending. The cornmeal gives the crust just the right english muffin crispness, and as you can see, you will not sacrifice any nooks and crannies by making your own.

English Muffin Bread

1 cup flour + 1 3/4 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups warm water

Cornmeal

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water. (In a stand mixer if you’ve got one.) You want the water to be about body temperature – hot enough to wake the yeast, not so hot you kill it.

Mix 3 minutes.

Add remaining flour and mix til incorporated.

Butter a pan very well. What size pan? Well, it’s up to you. The dough is going to rise to basically the shape of your pan. You could use a loaf pan, and have more of a slicing bread. Or you can do as I did for the muffins pictured above and use a shallow casserole dish. Whatever you use, make it big enough for the dough to rise in.

Give the pan a good dusting with cornmeal.

Add the dough and sprinkle with more cornmeal.

At this point the dough will be very wet and will not fill your pan. Cover it with a towel and let it rise for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Bake 30 minutes.

Save Some Bread

This bread goes fast at our house.

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All bread goes pretty fast, actually. When I began tracking our groceries to see where our money was going it wasn’t too surprising to see that bread was one of our biggest grocery expenses. Coming up with some easy, delicious recipes caused a nice dip in that spending, with the added bonus of getting to eat much better bread than we can buy at the local supermarket.

Cinnamon Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

1/2 cup sugar + 1/3 cup sugar, divided

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

In a buttered bread pan, layer 1/3 of the batter, then 1/3 of the sugar/cinnamon. Repeat until you have 3 layers of each, ending with sugar/cinnamon.

Bake for 40 minutes.

As Advertised

It would be just plain mean to have a cinnamon bun dancing at the top of my page and not give you a recipe, don’t you think?

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Cinnamon Buns

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling:

4 Tablespoons butter

1 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Dough:

2 cups flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons butter

3/4 cup milk

Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup milk

Combine the filling ingredients to make a crumbly mixture.

Spread half of the filling ingredients to cover the bottom of a 9″x9″ pan. You may want to line the pan – this gets messy.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Add milk and work it into a soft dough.

Roll the dough into a 1/4″ thick rectangle.

Spread the remaining filling over the dough.

Roll the dough up and slice it into 12-18 buns.

Place the buns in the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

While they’re baking, mix up your glaze.

Drizzle with glaze while warm.

Staff of Life

Bread is the simplest of foods, but many people think making it requires some sort of expertise.

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The process is completely straightforward. I’m not sure how it became shrouded in mystery, as if yeast were an outlandish ingredient and not something floating around in the air we breathe, but I am quite sure just about anyone can make a loaf of bread.

This challah is so pretty, and nicely sweet. It is not a traditional challah, as it includes milk, but there’s room on the table for tradition and innovation, yes?

Vanilla Challah

4 1/2 cups flour, divided

4 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup warm milk

2 eggs, plus 1 egg for eggwash

4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon to oil bowl and 1 teaspoon for eggwash

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon honey

Whisk 1 cup flour with yeast, sugar, and salt.

Add warm milk. You want it to be warm enough to wake the yeast up, but not so hot it kills the yeast. 40 seconds in the microwave works for me.

Add 2 lightly beaten eggs, 4 Tablespoons olive oil, honey, and vanilla.

Mix until smooth.

Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time.

Turn onto floured surface and knead til springy, 3-5 minutes.

Place in a deep bowl lightly greased with olive oil.

Turn it over once so it’s coated with oil, then cover the bowl with a dishtowel and set it in a warm spot.

Let it sit for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with Silpat or spray with oil.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll each into a snake about 20″ long. Keep the middle of the snakes a bit wider than the ends.

Lay the three pieces side by side, almost touching.

Begin in the middle and braid towards yourself, then turn the baking sheet and braid from the middle towards yourself again, this time moving the outside snakes under the center one rather than over. This will give you a neat braid.

Preheat the oven to 350 and let the dough rise on top of the stove on its tray, covered with a dishcloth.

After 30-40 minutes, whisk 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of olive oil and brush on top of loaf.

Bake the loaf about 40 minutes, until it is golden and sounds hollow when you rap the bottom.

Serenity Now

This pumpkin is in a race with the calendar.

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Will it have time to size and color up before the weather turns, be ready to fulfill its destiny as the main ingredient of a delicious pie? It’s completely out of my hands and there’s no pretending otherwise. Nothing will help a person learn acceptance faster than gardening.

You Say Potato

A potato baked in a fire is so much better than a potato cooked any other way, it almost needs a completely different name.

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Get a big fire going and let it burn long enough to make a nice bed of coals. (Of course you’ll want to use that time to make marshmallow appetizers – wouldn’t want to let that beautiful fire go to waste.) Poke some holes in your potatoes, double wrap in tin foil, and place on coals, not too close to any flames. Bake one hour, turning halfway through. (You’ll probably need a few more marshmallows to sustain you while you wait.) They’re ready when a knife will pass through them with no resistance.

These potatoes are great with just salt, pepper, and butter. If you want to get fancy, though, slice up some onions and peppers when you poke the potatoes. Double wrap them in tinfoil with a few nice pats of butter. Place that packet on the coals when your potatoes have about 20 minutes left to cook. A potato topped with peppers and onions with maybe a bit of goat cheese sprinkled on top? Perfection.