Thursday, August 28, 2014

Amazing English Muffin Bread!

This is all a bit ironic.......In last week's blog, I went on and on about the county fair.....entering contests, winning ribbons and prize-winning recipes. Sorry to say, this week's recipe is one that I would NEVER enter in a competition, yet I would make it again and again! There is an old saying that as folks sit down to a dinner table, they first "eat with their eyes." And isn't that true????? (And isn't that why so few of us serve creamed spinach at our dinner tables ???) People love to see something beautiful and inviting...something just BEGGING to be devoured. This recipe is one that does not make a beautiful loaf of bread. However, it makes a GREAT loaf of bread, if you're hankering for English muffins!! When I came upon this recipe and saw that it called for the bread to be "baked" in the microwave, I could hardly believe it. Extremely skeptical,  I earmarked it for a "must try" simply because it seemed so absurd. The author of the cookbook gave the recipe credibility, though, so I held out a smidgen of hope that it might be decent. Well, I was shocked....totally shocked! If you don't care what shape your English muffin is , I think you'll love toasting this tasty, fun, easy... but ugly (tee hee)... bread! 

Amazing English Muffin Bread
1½ tsp.Red Star Platinum yeast
1 ¼ Cup warm water
2 1/3 Cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ Cup white whole wheat flour
1Tbsp. cornmeal
1½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. buttermilk powder 
1/8 tsp. baking soda
Place warm water in EZ DOH bucket. Dissolve yeast in water and let rest 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, EXCEPT baking soda. EZ DOH-it until dough is stiff and just slightly sticky. Remove dough from bucket, spray bucket with cooking spray and replace dough. Cover and let rise until doubled. Re-attach dough hook and stir down the dough. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 Tbsp. water and EZ DOH-it into the dough. Spray a 6-cup microwave-proof loaf pan and place dough evenly into the pan. Cover lightly and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Place loaf in the microwave and “bake” on high for 6 ½ minutes. The loaf will look rather doughy and holey. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Adapted from Lora Brody’s “The New England Table” 
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cider-Drizzled Apple Swirl Bread!

It's county fair time here in Ohio. My hubby and I always spend at least one complete day at the "Canfield Fair" (locals consider it to be as good as the Ohio State fair- I don't know, since I've never been, but Canfield IS a goodie!) We're in and out of the animal barns; we do A LOT of eating;  I insist that we visit the "medical pavilion" where we vie for lowest BP; We laugh at the HUGE pumpkins people nurture in their gardens and then haul in for the competition; We NEVER ride the rides - I'm not a "rides" girl ( no roller coasters or high-flying adventures for us - we leave that up to the grandkids!); We walk around the re-created historic village.....and the list goes on! 

You've gotta know that, USUALLY, my favorite thing to do is compete in the baking division of the Arts and Crafts. I've got some crazy stories about those competitions (you can read some of them on this blog). Seriously, I'm not in it for the money (at $4.00 for a blue ribbon, I'd better not be!).....I just love being a part. Last year, I took part in a special "Apple" competition for which I made a Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread that took 2nd place. This year, with everything going on in life, I didn't have time to enter anything -Boooooo! Going to the fair won't be quite the same this year! However, if I was going to enter anything, I'd really consider entering this delightfully different Apple Swirl Bread. Tasty, easy and beautiful - what a trio! It sure got rave reviews from my friends! Maybe one of you could enter it in YOUR county fair! 

Cider-Drizzled Apple Swirl Bread

¼ Cup warm water
1 pkg/Tbsp.Red Star Platinum yeast 
½ Cup milk, warmed
2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon

2-3 Apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced. Each slice should then be cut in half
3 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar

2 Tbsp. butter
¼ Cup packed brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. apple cider (or apple juice)
½ Cup powdered sugar

Place warm water in EZ DOH bucket. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let rest one minute. Add warmed milk, then remaining dough ingredients. EZ DOH-it until the dough is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated, about 2-3 minutes. Remove dough from bucket, “smooth” the dough by patting, spray bucket with cooking spray. Replace dough in bucket, cover and let rise until doubled.
Remove dough from bucket and divide into 2 equal portions. Roll out each ball into an 8x11” rectangle. Cut each in 9 strips (lengthwise). Using cooking spray, grease 2- 8” round pans. Starting at the center of one pan, coil 9 dough strips with apple slices into a spiral, securely pinching ends as you add the strips. Repeat with second pan and other 9 strips and remaining apple pieces. Cover pans and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 365. (350 doesn’t seem hot enough and 375 is almost too hot J ). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. (While bread is baking, make glaze: see below) Remove bread from oven. Gently turn upside down and remove from pan, placing it “right-side-up” on a cooling rack. Brush each spiral with 1 ½ Tbsp. melted butter, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
Glaze: Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in cider. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir powdered sugar into mixture. Add more cider, if necessary to thin the glaze. Drizzle glaze over the spirals. Enjoy!
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dad's Pecan Sticky Buns!

Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that my father passed away this week. In our community, he was a legend. I can't tell you how many people remembered him as "a true Renaissance man". And that he was. There was little that my father didn't do....and do well. He was a family practitioner who delivered over 2000 babies in his day and was much loved by his patients; He was a talented musician who had a Dixieland band called "Doc and His Six Shots"; He was an award-winning woodworker who carved cigar store Indians, wooden soldiers and carousel horses; He was the president of practically every organization he ever involved himself in, including Kiwanis, the local hospital board, the theater organ society, and so much more. He was a veteran who served as an Air Force weatherman in the China-Burma-India theater in WWII; He was a weekly contributor to the local newspaper; He was involved in his community and served on city council, the Historical Society, the chamber, church and park boards for years. And he had THE greatest laugh! What an example he was! 

I am proud to say that my dad loved my baking. Most anything would do....anything sweet, that is - LOL! However, his real "soft spot" was for pecan rolls. Pecans, as you might know, can be a little pricey so there were often long periods of time that Dad had to go without pecan rolls due to the tight pocketbook of his daughter. However, when he got desperate for those rolls, a bag of pecans would mysteriously show up on my pecan fairy had visited!! I took the hint and baked up the warm, sticky rolls for him immediately! 

The rolls in this recipe are made with my "basic recipe" - not your typical sweet-bread based dough. That's the way Dad liked 'em. And it was easy and quick for me. Nuthin' too fancy, but oh-so good!!!!! Remembering you, Dad!

Dad's Pecan Sticky Buns!! 
1 Cup warm water
1 Tbsp/packet Red Star Platinum yeast 
2 1/2-2 3/4 Cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt 
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil 

Cinnamon sugar

Sticky Mix: 
1/4 Cup butter, melted
1/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. corn syrup 
3/4- 1 Cup chopped pecans

Pour the water in the EZ DOH bucket - add yeast and dissolve. Let rest 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and "EZ DOH-it" (or traditionally knead), adding enough flour to make a soft, smooth dough that is not sticky. Remove dough from bucket, spray the interior of the bucket with cooking spray, replace the dough, cover and let rise till doubled. 

After the first rise, punch the dough down and roll out into a large rectangle. Spread approximately 1-2 Tablespoons of softened butter on the dough.  Sprinkle generously with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Roll up dough and slice into 12-14 rolls. Grease a 9” cake pan  or a 7x10” rectangular pan. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter and corn syrup. Stir in brown sugar. Stir until butter no longer separates from the brown sugar. Pour into prepared pan. Top with chopped pecans. Place rolls in pan, atop the pecan mixture. Cover and let rise, usually 20-30 minutes. Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven. Immediately top with a serving plate and carefully turn upside down. Remove pan and let cool.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Twisted Greek Stuffed Bread!

I feel a little like Typhoid Mary tonight.....I've been a little "under the weather" this week with a cough and miscellaneous aches and pains. And wouldn't you know it's a week where I've had so much going much I had committed to being a part of! Grrrrrr.....So..... what's a person to do? My hubby would say "Stay home and recover - they'll get by without you!"  My response is a little different - "Get out there, you wimp! Press on! Help out!" Which voice did I heed? My own, of course! And I made it through everything! Hurrah! 

HOWEVER, I just got a text from a very good fellow-community-servant/friend of mine who served at the same events as I did. She sadly reported that she's coming down with all the symptoms I had......Not so "Hurrah"! Poor girl...I feel a little responsible for possibly "sharing". There are good things to share and there are bad things.....obviously, that was a bad thing that I never meant to share. A GOOD thing to share would be a loaf of this delicious  stuffed bread. My friend deserves a loaf.....she shares so much of herself with our community!  To you, April! And to all of you - enjoy- and share the good things in life! 

Twisted Greek Stuffed Bread

1 pkg/Tbsp.Red Star Platinum yeast
1 Cup warm water
3- 3 ½ Cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I used Ariston infused olive oils – 1 Tbsp oregano oil; 1 Tbsp. red chili oil just for fun)

1- 10oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and pressed dry
½ Cup feta cheese crumbles
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/3 Cup parmesan cheese
1/3 Cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tbsp. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 Cup chopped banana pepper
1/2  tsp. salt
1 egg
Combine all ingredients well and set aside.

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten, combined with 1 Tbsp. water

In the EZ DOH bucket, dissolve yeast in water. Let rest one minute. Add one cup of flour, then remaining flour and ingredients. EZ DOH-it until smooth and elastic, 2-3 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary. Remove dough from bucket. “Smooth” the dough by gently pulling the sides of the dough ball under itself. Spray bucket with cooking spray. Replace dough in bucket, cover and let rise until doubled. Roll dough out on a lightly-floured surface into a 16x9” rectangle. Spread combined filling ingredients on 2/3 of the rectangle (length-wise). Fold the unspread third of dough over one half of the spread dough. Fold again, making 3 layers of dough and 2 layers of filling. Pinch edges and place on a greased baking sheet. Using cooking shears or a sharp knife, cut 1” strips to within 1” of the opposite side. Separate and twist strips to expose filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with a small amount of grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy!! 

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