Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Double Cinnamon Bread

IMG_6107When people get me down, I take my Mama's advice and bake. Lately, I find myself saddened by so much ugliness from people I know and the world in general. One of those people is a very good friend who suddenly began posting very mean and ugly racist things on Facebook. I don't know why. They never seemed that way before. Regardless, it distresses me greatly to see such ugly ideas infect people like a cancer of the soul - especially people I know are capable of more. But, since I cannot force them to let light into their lives, I'll just bake.

Amish 7
Photo by Alotor
Last night I was watching a documentary on National Geographic Channel about the Amish. Michael asked me why I was so interested in them. It's a rather complex reason. I find certain aspects of their "simple" life to be rather fascinating, even desirable and other aspects I find puzzling because they seem to be clever ways of getting around their own "rules" of behavior. I find their cooking to be very much like that from the South - delicious, simple, and unpretentious.

Regardless of my differences of opinion on religious matters and behavior, I have great respect and love for their food ways. This double cinnamon bread is an Amish recipe and it's quite wonderful. When I was baking this the other day the entire house began to smell like a giant cinnamon roll. The cinnamon, butter, and sugar wafted through the house immediately bringing a sense of peace with it. I put on some music while the bread baked and simply reveled in the joy of being. Maybe that sentiment is more Shaker than Amish. I have always loved the Shaker dance tune "Simple Gifts" and its joyous exhortation to live simply and fully: "Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight."

It's funny that a local "personal injury" attorney is using the tune on their advertisements touting how much money one can make by suing someone else. I think they may have missed the meaning of the tune.

At a later point in history someone added additional verses to the simple song and one of those in particular is a favorite: "When true liberty is found, By fear and by hate we will no more be bound." Those lines really spoke to me as I baked and contemplated my sadness with my friend.

So, I take comfort in my kitchen work and the peaceful smell of bread baking in the oven while I sit and listen to music and enjoy the unconditional love of Lady Snow who has never met anyone she doesn't like no matter their race, ethnicity, or anything else. That feels like the place that is right and it does feel like the valley of love and delight.

: Double Cinnamon Bread
IMG_6113 : Delicous bread that is perfect for cinnamon toast.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 7-8 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups milk, warmed to 110°
  • 2 packets rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110°)
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. ground cinnamon
  1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together sugar, salt, and 7 cups of the bread flour. In large glass measuring cup mix together warm milk, warm water and yeast.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add eggs and soft butter to dry ingredients. Slowly pour in wet ingredients from measuring cup and mix at medium speed until dough begins to come together. Increase speed to medium high until dough forms a smooth ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add up to 1 cup more of flour by tablespoons if necessary to get dough to release from sides of bowl. Continue kneading dough for about 5 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray and place dough in bowl. Turn dough to coat all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Remove wrap from bowl and punch down dough by gently pulling sides of dough toward the top and gently folding over. Repeat on all sides of the dough. Recover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30 minutes more.
  5. Flour a work surface and turn out risen dough. Gently pat into a 9x12-inch square. Using a bench scraper or pastry cutter, slice the dough into two 9x6-inch pieces. Using 3/4 of the melted butter, brush the dough liberally then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll the dough tightly along the 9-inch side and securely pinch the seam and ends together.
  6. Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Place the dough seam side down in the loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°.
  8. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pans and lightly brush with remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in the side of the loaves reads 195°.
  9. Immediately remove loaves from pans and allow to cool completely on wire rack.
  10. This bread will keep in a sealed plastic bag for about 4 days at room temperature or when double wrapped can be frozen for up to 6 months.
If you like Cinnamon Raisin Bread add 3/4 cup of raisins dusted with flour after mixing dough but before kneading.

Preparation time: 2 hour(s) 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Seven Grain Bread

Michael loves whole grain and multi-grain breads. Unfortunately, the better brands are fairly expensive at the store unless you can find them on sale. Since I've been on a bread kick lately I decided to try out this recipe from America's Test Kitchen on PBS. Honestly, their bread recipes are about the best I've ever used. A lot of the recipes for bread you find on the sites like Recipezaar or and others are really bad. I don't know if people just post anything that pops into their heads without testing them or what goes on in those places, but the recipes can be utter disasters. As I've progressed in my ability to "envision" a recipe before beginning I've saved myself a lot of grief on those places (and a lot of money on wasted ingredients). But, if you can't look at a recipe and see if there's something wrong in quantities or something missing or something is in there that shouldn't be, then be wary of those massive sites.

Lady Snow prefers her
birthday hat in her mouth.

Anyway, this 7-Grain Bread turned out very nicely. The texture is wonderful. It's light without being too fluffy and with enough chew to let you know it's multi-grain but not so much that it's heavy and dense. I hate those "whole grain" recipes for bread that turn out loaves so heavy you need a wheelbarrow to carry them from oven to table! I have a feeling that I might be able to convince Michael to let me whip this up in the kitchen once a week and save a little money on the expensive grocery store loaves.

In other news, yesterday was Lady Snow's sixth birthday. Normally she's in the kitchen with me, but she went with Michael to Animal Inn for a spa day with Ms. Nora, her favorite groomer. Poor girl was looking a little disheveled after not having a beauty parlor day since her surgery about 5 weeks ago! On top of that, the vet shaved HALF of her back end for the leg surgery! Nora decided to give her a "modified" lion cut by trimming the other half of her back end. So, now she's all fluffy up front and shaved in the back like a little lion!

: 7-Grain Bread
: Hearty but not heavy, this bread is not only healthful but delicious!

  • 1 1/4 cups 7-grain hot cereal mix (Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbs. honey
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tbs. table salt
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats or quick oats for bread
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or quick oats for rolling (optional)
  1. Place cereal mix in bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100°, about 1 hour. Whisk flours together in a medium bowl.
  2. Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach bowl to standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low speed, add flours, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until dough forms ball, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; cover bowl with plastic and let dough rest 20 minutes. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional all-purpose flour and continue mixing); continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes. Add 3/4 cup oats and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead by hand until oats are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, taut ball. Place dough into greased container with 4-quart capacity; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375°. Spray two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pat into 12 by 9-inch rectangle; cut dough in half crosswise with knife or bench scraper. Starting at long side of dough (9-inch side) roll dough very tightly. Seal the seam by pinching securely and spray the dough lightly with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Roll the dough in 1/2 cup of the oats and place dough seam side down in loaf pan. Repeat with second half of dough. Cover pans lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.)
  4. Bake until internal temperature registers 200° on instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire rack before slicing, about 3 hours.
If you don't want to use oats in the dough you can substitute seeds such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

Preparation time: 2 hour(s) 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Classic Sandwich Bread

I'm on sort of a bread kick for some reason. I have a couple more bread varieties planned in the next week or so, but this one is a classic sandwich bread. I was extremely pleased with this recipe (it's an old Cook's Illustrated originally). The loaf it turned out had a great texture and was moist like sandwich bread should be without being too gummy. I added a bit of whole wheat flour to the original recipe to give it a little more taste and texture (not to mention those whole grain health benefits). Michael really enjoyed this bread and even had some toasted with butter and garlic with his supper last night.

Coming up soon will be a 7-Grain Bread with oats which I hope will turn out as great as this bread did! Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Let us know about it in the comments!

: Sandwich Bread
Luscious homemade bread perfect for sandwiches and toast.
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup warm whole milk (about 110)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (about 110)
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbs. agave syrup
  • 1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid rise yeast
  1. Set oven to 200° and immediately turn off the oven when heated.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, mix together the 3 cups of the all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, and salt.
  3. In large measuring cup mix together warm milk, warm water, melted butter, agave syrup, and yeast.
  4. With mixer on low speed, add wet ingredients to dry. Increase mixer speed to medium low (about 2 or 3 on Kitchen Aid mixers) until dough comes together. If necessary, scrape down sides of bowl. When dough comes together increase speed to medium and knead the dough until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes). If dough is still sticking to sides of bowl, add more flour by tablespoons until dough forms a nice smooth and satiny ball.
  5. Lightly grease or spray a large bowl. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead by had about 15 seconds. Form into a boule shape and place in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in oven and allow to rise until about doubled in size - 50-60 minutes.
  6. Grease an 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
  7. Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into an 8-inch square shape. Beginning at side closest to you, roll the square up making sure to keep the roll very tight. Pinch together the seams and ends. Place dough in prepared loaf pan making sure to spread the dough so that it touches all four sides of the pan.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm place to rise until doubled in size - about 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, place a baking dish on lowest rack of oven and adjust second rack so that it sits just above it but no higher than middle position. When dough is just about read, preheat oven to 350°.
  9. Boil 2 cups of water. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan and place in oven. Pour boiling water into the heated baking dish (be careful, it will create a lot of steam!) Close door and allow bread to bake until golden brown on top and it makes a hollow sound when thumped, about 40-50 minutes. The internal temperature on an instant read thermometer inserted into end of loaf should read 195°.)
  10. Remove bread from oven and turn out of loaf pan onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Note: If you cannot find agave syrup in your local store, you may substitute honey in equal amounts.

Preparation time: 1 hour(s) 35 minute(s)
Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sweet Corn Muffins

This is the third corn muffin recipe we've tried out since starting Sugar Pies. Of course, recipes for cornbread and corn muffins are a dime a dozen. You'll find all sorts of things thrown into them from peppers to bacon to cheese to canned corn. I'm sure there's probably somebody out there making them with chocolate or something. After all, if Denny's can serve up a chocolate bacon sundae (the thought makes me a little nauseated) then anything is possible I suppose.

This corn muffin recipe began life as Ina Garten's. I liked her fairly simple and straightforward, albeit "Yankeefied" version of classic cornbread muffins. After trying the ridiculously complicated yeast version from Cook's Illustrated, I was looking for something a little more "back to basics." However, looking at Ina's recipe I felt it needed something else. There was a lot of butter in it, which is not a bad thing, but I thought I might be able to tame that a little bit by subbing in some canola oil. I also felt that if I cut a little of the cholesterol out with the canola oil I'd have room for something that was sure to give the muffins a little je ne sais quoi - bacon grease. I can hear the food nazis out there gasp, "Bacon grease, oh no!" Well, bacon grease compliments the flavors of corn bread and corn muffins beautifully. Adding a scant 2-3 tablespoons to the batter doesn't make you say "Oh, these have bacon grease!" rather, it is a very subtle flavor that lingers in the background and gives the muffins depth. A dash of cayenne pepper adds another mysterious flavor note.

I really loved the way these turned out and even Michael enjoyed them, although he thought they could have been smaller. I baked these in the jumbo muffin tins which make 12 muffins. However, if you're like Michael and want your corn muffins a little smaller, you can use a regular sized tin and come out with about 18-24.

These corn muffins are just on the sweet side thanks to the sugar but the corn meal flavor still shines through and thanks to the two "secret" ingredients these have a great depth of flavor that will keep you coming back for more.

: Sweet Corn Muffins
: Perfect sweet corn muffins for breakfast or dinner with two "secret" ingredients that kick them up a notch!

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2-3 tbs. bacon grease
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal (stone ground if available)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line jumbo muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In small heat proof bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add canola oil and bacon grease and set aside to cool slightly while preparing other ingredients.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment add flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix until combined.
  4. Add egg and yolk and mix until combined. Add butter, oil and grease and mix. Add milk and water and mix just until batter is smooth. Complete mixing with spatula to be sure all ingredients are incorporated from bottom of bowl.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until tops of muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly then remove to wire rack.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Accidental Scone

I have one of those cookbooks that is rather hit or miss. Some of the recipes are spot on and others, well, not so much. This was one that turned out to be not-so-much. Luckily, unlike a couple others from this book this one was a pleasant surprise in its failure as it went from what was described as a "delicate and cakey" cookie illustrated with a very thin flat iced cookie to a quasi-scone!

On Saturday, I finally found about an hour and half to do a little baking. That's been very rare around here lately. In addition to babysitting Lady Snow following her surgery we've had a few other dramas recently. By the way, Lady Snow is doing great, she's just not allowed to run around on her leg yet, so we have to watch her constantly or keep her in her kennel.

A few weeks ago Michael began complaining of severe pain in his back and leg. Then he began complaining of shortness of breath and finally dizziness. Of course, he refused to see anyone about any of it until the dizziness hit. Finally he consented to go to the ER. They found that he has chronic hypertension, degenerative disc disease causing sciatica, and possibly atherosclerosis. So, whether he wants to or not, a doctor will be in his future.

After our visit to Snow's doctor for her post-surgery checkup on Thursday, we arrived back home to find that our house was flooded. The water connection for the toilet had ruptured and filled our house with nearly an inch to inch and a half of water! Luckily, we have tile floors so our floors weren't ruined and with the 9% desert humidity were able to dry out our area rugs overnight. Still, it was several hours of very tiring (and hot) work to get the water out of the house, furniture moved and things cleaned up!

Obviously, baking has not been high on my list of priorities lately! But, I did manage to get some done yesterday and enjoyed getting back in the kitchen immensely!

As I mentioned, this recipe is supposed to be for a very delicate and thin cookie but turned out to be a very thick and cakey cookie that more closely resembles a type of scone. In fact, upon looking at them I thought they looked most like these delicious scones I sometimes get at A.J.'s Market here in Tucson. The original of this recipe calls for anise flavors, but since it turned into a quasi-scone I think a citrus or vanilla flavor would be even better. So, I'll list a lemon version in the recipe. You could substitute just about anything though for flavor.

The original recipe also calls for these to be dropped onto a cookie sheet. That works well and give a lovely rustic round shape. I also found that putting them in a cookie press and making ribbons worked nicely too. That gave a lovely "pillow" type shape. Either way works just fine.

The texture came out as a lovely cakey/cookie soft interior with delicate flavors. I iced these with a vanilla icing and a chocolate icing but you could use just about any flavor glaze you wish.

Give these Accidental Scones a try, I think you'll enjoy them!

: Accidental Scones
: A cookie/scone hybrid with delicious flavors and delicate interior

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half (or water)
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment (unless using a cookie press).
  2. Combine flours, baking powder, salt and zest and whisk together. Set aside.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, half and half, lemon extract, and mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture in batches stirring after each addition until incorporated. Drop 1-2 tablespoon mounds onto cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. If using cookie press: Use a ribbon attachment and press about a 3-inch ribbon.
  5. Bake about 15-18 minutes until cookies are set and edges are just beginning to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine the powdered sugar and half and half. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add more water or powdered sugar to get the correct consistency (you want an icing that will pour over cookies but not so thin it runs off.) When ready the icing should form a ribbon that very, very slowly dissolves into itself in the bowl.
  2. In a two-cup glass measuring cup, melt 2 oz. of dark chocolate in microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir until melted fully. If necessary return to microwave for 15 seconds and stir again. Add 1/2 of icing to the measuring cup and stir until icing and chocolate are incorporated. Pour over 1/2 of the cookies to glaze them. Let stand until icing sets.
  3. Into the additional icing place 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract and stir to incorporate. Pour this icing over other 1/2 of cookies and let stand until icing sets.
Any flavorings can be used in this recipe depending on your taste.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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