Steak House Yeast Rolls

Tanks Giving is fast approaching! I am going to re-post several of the most popular Thanksgiving related posts over the next few days you help you get ready for the big feast!

First up: Steak House Yeast Rolls!

Needing to develop some recipes for a couple of TV shoots coming up, I have been going through a lot of recipes.

This recipe for Steak House Yeast Rolls was a consideration but as I was working through the recipe, the realization that this would be far too complicated to do on Charlotte Cooks, my TV show on PBS in the Charlotte market.

Steak House Yeast Rolls

Steak House Yeast Rolls

With only 26.45 minutes to fill, two 2-hour rising times, mixing, shaping, baking, making a filling for cinnamon rolls, icing, would take an entire season, not 26 minutes.

You have the pleasure of the recipe and variations, my neighbors will enjoy a slab of rolls.

Since I started taking a nutrition class a couple of weeks ago, I have seriously increased the awareness of what I am eating and what is in those lovely morsels I select to stuff in my face.

Making these rolls at home ensures you are using good wholesome ingredients. No dough conditioners, artificial flavors or stabilizers. Just fresh butter, eggs, organic flour, sugar, milk and yeast.

The dough feels great and gives your arms a work out.

  • Servings: ”18″
  • Difficulty: ”medium”
  • Print

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 ounce active dry yeast
  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 6 to 6-1/2 cups of AP flour
  • Extra soft butter to butter the sides of the bowl and baking dish
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Heat the milk and water to 110°F. Whisk the yeast into the heated milk and water. Let sit for 5 minutes, it should become frothy and bubble.

Add the butter, eggs, sugar and salt to a large bowl, whisk in the milk and yeast mixture.

Add the flour one cup at a time, creating a shaggy dough.

This can be done in a mixer with a dough hook but the final kneading will have to be done by hand so you don’t burn out your machine. unless, or course, you have a really heavy-duty mixer. I don’t stress my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the final kneading. Initial mixing yes, but not the final knead.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Form it into a nice round ball.

Butter the inside of a large bowl, Roll the dough ball to cover the surface with butter then place the ball in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that has been also oiled to prevent the rising dough from sticking to the wrap as it rises.

Doubled in Size

Doubled in Size

Allow to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This may take 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide the dough in half.

Roll each dough ball into an even rope

Cut and weigh for even size

Cut and weigh for even size

and cut even size rolls. Weigh each roll to weigh 1.70 ounces. Lightly roll them to shape into balls.

Butter a 9 x 12 baking pan. Place each roll in rows 4 x 6, allowing a small bit of space between each roll. This space will fill in as the rolls rise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap.

Allow to rise again, until doubled in size.

Yeast Rolls ready to bake

Yeast Rolls ready to bake

Once the roll pan is full, you will have some left over dough.

This dough is perfect for some amazing cinnamon rolls!

Roll the dough into a rectangle. Mix some soft butter with some brown sugar and cinnamon to make a paste. ( Make sure it tastes good.)

Spread the butter cinnamon mixture over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle the surface with pecans or walnuts.

Roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam closed.

Using a serrated blade, cut 2″ sliced from the roll. Place them cut side up (and down) in a well-buttered baking pan so the sides barely touch.

Cinnamon Rolls ready to rise

Cinnamon Rolls ready to rise

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Use a pan large enough to fill with the sliced cinnamon rolls.

Allow these to double in size.

Baking yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls:

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F

Mix 1 egg with water to make an egg wash. Brush the surface of the rolls with egg wash just before putting them in the oven.

Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through for even baking.

The rolls are done when they are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Any leftovers?

Make bread pudding!

Baked Yeast Rolls

Baked Yeast Rolls

Pumpkin Snicker-doodles

Pumpkin Snicker-doodles are delightful. Full of rich Autumnal flavors, they are sure to please your sweet tooth craving.

Yum! Cookies!

I made last year and sent some down to Tyler. I had my culinary students make them to share with the local Ronald McDonald House, and now my son wants the recipe again. He had several friends last year who were going to another friends home for Thanksgiving and they wanted to take these pumpkin cookies.

So somehow they found a kitchen to bake in. We had an afternoon of “cooking by text” with successful results. Hopefully they had enough to take to their hostess.

This year he and his girlfriend are in apartments and have their own kitchens. They are going to cook for each other this year. I am publishing the recipe for Pumpkin Snicker-doodles, along with the method and photos so one of them can make the cookies again.

So, you don’t like pumpkin? Substitute mashed banana instead of pumpkin.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies so you may want to cut the recipe in half or just share!

Here are some reasons you should make these this afternoon:

  • They are easy
  • They taste great
  • They look impressive
  • The recipe makes a lot of cookies so there is plenty to share
  • Your house will smell wonderful all afternoon
  • You can freeze some dough to bake later
  • It’s another Pumpkin thing!
  • Fall is in the air

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Servings: A lot of small cookies! About 6 dozen
  • Difficulty: moderate to easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 cups AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt

For rolling dough balls in before baking:

  • 1 cup white sugar mixed
  • 1 ½  tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl beat butter, both sugars, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla on medium until butter is evenly incorporated into pumpkin.

In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and spices.

Fully Mixed Dough, Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll balls of the chilled dough in cinnamon sugar

Space the cookies 2″ apart on a lined sheet pan. Use parchment paper if you don’t have a silpat sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Beat dry ingredients into wet until it is all mixed in.  The dough will be fluffy but very sticky.

Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375°.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons  form golf-ball sized balls with the chilled dough.

Roll balls in cinnamon sugar.

Place 2” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Flatten slightly with fingers, but not too much.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are crackled and the edges are light golden brown.

Let cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before removing to cooling sheets.

Cool cookies on a wire rack before drizzling with icing sugar.

To make icing sugar, combine 10x powdered sugar with a small bit of milk and a few drops of vanilla. Add the liquid a few drops at a time as the sugar will reach drizzling consistency quickly. Us a fork to drizzle, allow to dry before stacking cookies.

Eat and be happy!

Pumpkin Snicker doodles

 

Easy Sandwich Rolls

When it comes to a good easy sandwich roll, a homemade one is hard to beat. Finding a great recipe is also a bit of a challenge.

I wanted a recipe that didn’t require an overnight sponge or two rising times. I wanted a recipe that could be done in just a couple of hours and have good texture and great flavor.

The recipe had to be versatile and most of all, fun.

First is the recipe as I made it and after, is a basic recipe that can be modified easily to give youSandwich Rolls a whole bunch of different results.

With practice, you could have these ready to eat within 2 hours.

Easy Sandwich Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non fat milk
  • 5 ounces water
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup mixed grains and seeds; soaked in 1/4 cup water
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Wash and topping:
  • 1 egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon water
  • Sesame and poppy seeds and coarse salt

Method:

Remove the egg from the refrigerator and crack it into a bowl. Beat it slightly with a fork, set it aside to come to room temperature.

Heat the milk, water and honey with the butter just until the butter melts. Cool until the temperature falls below 120°F then beat in the egg.

Measure 2 cups of AP flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. On low-speed, add the cooled milk mixture until a dough forms.

Slowly add the remaining flour a bit at a time. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and will not be sticky when enough flour has been added. You may need to add additional flour beyond what is called for in the recipe.

Once a soft non sticky ball has formed, knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Zero a scale and weigh the dough mass. Determine how many ounces of total weight you have. You can determine how many rolls to make in one of two ways.

1. Divide the total weight in ounces by how many rolls you need. Then cut off dough balls that of that weight and all rolls will be the same size.

2. Decide how large you want the rolls. The rolls featured are 3.2 ounce dough balls.

Seeded Sandwich Rolls

  • small slider rolls – 2 ounces – bake 10-12 minutes
  • sandwich or burger size rolls – 3.2 ounces – bake 12-14 minutes
  • large sandwich rolls – 4 ounces – bake up to 20 minutes
  • Hot Dog Buns: 4 ounce rolled into oblong shape, slice open on top or side – bake up to 20 minutes

As the dough balls are weighed, round each dough ball to create a smooth top. Place them 3 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle a bit of cornmeal under the rolls.

Place the smooth dough balls onto the prepared baking sheet, cover with a piece of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick oil. Let the rolls rise until they double in size – in a warm kitchen this may take 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400°F

Once the rolls have risen, glaze them gently with egg yolk and sprinkle with seeds. The egg yolk helps the seeds stick and gives a nice shine to the finished roll. Brush the egg yolk on with a brush, being careful not to deflate the risen roll.

Bake the rolls in a 400°F oven for 12-15 minutes; 10-12 for the small rolls and up to 20 minutes for the larger rolls.

Verify internal temperature has reached 210°F and then cool the rolls on a rack. Be sure to space them so they don’t become soggy while cooling.

The final internal temperature should reach 210°F for any size.

Once the rolls have cooled, slice them open and fill with your favorite sandwich filling. The rolls are tender, absorbent to hold juicy fillings without getting messy, taste really good and look fantastic.

Once you see how easy it is to make these sandwich rolls, you’ll make them again and again.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a Sandwich Roll with Cabbage and Kale Slaw and Sweet Pickle Chips

BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a Sandwich Roll with Cabbage and Kale Slaw and Sweet Pickle Chips

Plain White Sandwich Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 1 room temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 1/2 cups bread or AP flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Follow the same directions as the multi-grain rolls.

Use different toppings or slash the tops of some rolls for different looks.

If you use dried minced onions or dried minced garlic on the top of the unbaked rolls, be sure to soak the dried onions or garlic in a small amount of water before using as a topping. If they are not hydrated, they will burn and taste bitter.

Try adding cheese or shredded zucchini in place of butter to the recipe.

Use them as dinner rolls, give a bag to your neighbor.

To me one of the best parts of a sandwich is good bread. This is a great start.

Try them and let me know what you think and if you tried anything different.

Sandwich rolls

Sandwich rolls

Sorta “Socca”

Socca are flat breads from the Nice area of France. Made with garbanzo bean flour, cooked in a screaming hot oven until they blister and brown, sprinkled with salt, pepper and sometimes a bit of olive oil, these tasty bits are simply delicious.

I call these “sorta socca” because I use different kinds of flours and add seasonings and herbs to the mix before cooking. Traditional socca are simply flour, water, oil and salt.

David Lebovitz writes a great recipe for socca in his book Sweet Life in Paris and has another post about it on his blog. Check those out too. He gives some great information. For the most part, this recipe is based upon Davids recipe.

For these “Sorta Socca” you  will need:

  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup chestnut flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean (chick pea) flour
  • 9 ounces water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Final seasonings: Freshly ground black pepper, sea or kosher salt, slight drizzle of olive oil which is totally optional.

Special equipment: Sturdy heat-resistant pan such as cast iron or steel. I use a crepe pan I bought in Paris and it works great! Just be sure there are no plastic handles on the pan you choose. A sturdy tart pan would work well, cast iron, although heavy, is ideal.

Here is some advice: if you go researching recipes and cooking methods you will find some call for cooking in a 450°F oven for 10-12 minutes. Please take my advice and realize this is not hot enough.

Use the broiler on high or use your grill if you can get it that hot.

To prevent the oil from burning on the pan, as it would if you were to pre-oil and then pre-heat the pan under the broiler, oil it just before you pour in the batter.

Mix all the ingredients together and allow the mix to sit for a couple of hours. This allows the flours to hydrate.

15 minutes before you are going to cook the socca, turn on the broiler and place the pan in the oven to get screaming hot.

Be SURE to use a good hot mitt or strong towel to handle the hot pan. Avoid getting burned! (Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial suggests using welding mitts for managing very hot things in the oven)

Pour the batter into the hot pan

Pour the batter into the hot pan

When the oven and the pan are really hot, pour enough batter into the pan, swirl it around and place the pan back under the broiler. Make sure there is room for the socca to rise while it is under the broiler, if it touches the heat source, it will burn.

You will see the dough puff and begin to turn brown. This only takes a few minutes and how long depends totally upon the strength and heat of your broiler.

The socca is done when it is dark brown to black around the edges and the top has golden brown spots.

Done!

Done!

Remove from the oven, place the socca on a cutting board, sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper and a drop or two of olive oil.

Socca is meant to be rustic so either tear it into serving portions or cut it into wedges.

Put the warm socca on a rack to cool so it does not become soggy.

Sprinkle with seasonings, a little goes a long way

Sprinkle with seasonings, a little goes a long way

Sometimes I’ll re-warm any left-over socca by placing it on a hot pizza stone on the oven for a few minutes. This tastes so good warm!

Today’s socca was served with lemon hummus, baba ganoush and cabbage cruciferous soup.

If you have no idea what socca is, try it.

I encourage playing with flour mix. While traditional socca is made with garbanzo bean flour, you can mix it up a bit with other flours too. An added bonus is this is also gluten-free unless you decide to use some wheat, rye or barley flours.

If you do know what socca is, while not quite the same as the street food in Nice, this comes pretty close.

Socca with soup, hummus and baba ganoush

Socca with soup, hummus and baba ganoush

In My Kitchen February 2013

I missed out on last months post, mainly because I ran out of time and the other was due to being “suspended “ on WordPress. (Yeah, I’m such a bad girl!)

This In My Kitchen posting neatly summarizes what has been happening in my kitchen over the last month.

At Soup in Sunday I bought another bowl, for condiments this time.

The new bowl

The new bowl

There has been lots of information going around on how to grow things from kitchen scraps. I love scallions and have a hard time getting them to grow. My dad on the other hand gets things to grow for him just by thinking about it.

"Hydroponic" Scallions; They will need dirt soon!

“Hydroponic” Scallions; They will need dirt soon!

So scallions are now growing in vases for easy clipping and almost instant regrowth. They will need soil soon, I’m sure

In my kitchen this month are these lovely measuring cups.

Hedge Hog measuring cups

Hedge Hog measuring cups

You can use them as scoops too

You can use them as scoops too

How cute are these? They were a Christmas gift from Robert’s daughter Kim. Aren’t they adorable!

I started taking a class (just because) on Nutritional Concepts and Medical Nutritional Therapy so the awareness of what we eat has been in the spotlight. Eating/using  a lot of butter (I love butter!) is one thing that has changed. I used to keep at least 5# of butter on hand for baking but now, I hardly have any. If I want to bake, a to run to the store would be required. This step alone has really put a damper on the treats available in my kitchen.

So now baking sweet treats involves some actual thinking about it rather than just jumping in and baking my heart out.

I am teaching a baking class this semester so the advantage of this is I get to play with tons of dough and make all kinds of things all day long. When I come home, the treats aren’t staring me in the face demanding “eat me!”

However, Celia’s Chocolate Nutella frogs had me locating the jar of Nutella and slathering it on to  a Trisket and topping that with a few pistachios. Thankfully there are no incriminating photographs!

In my kitchen this month is a  new (to me) book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice  authored by Peter Reinhardt.

I find it fascinating. Additionally, I bought a couche for when I make bread. the need has been there for a while, I’m just getting around to buying one.

Bread Baker's Apprentice and floured couche

Bread Baker’s Apprentice and floured couche

One of our friends is a friend of Peters. I am hoping to get the book signed one day.

In my kitchen are some great new lenses for the i phone!

i Phone lenses

i Phone lenses

There are three of them, wide-angle, fish eye and macro lenses. I am really looking forward to having the time to really learn how to use them effectively.

I’ll do a post on the shots the camera makes with the different lenses.

Here is a shot using the macro lens

Using the i phone macro lens

Using the i phone macro lens

So, now it is time to go make bread for the week. Celia’s pain-viennois and Richard Bertinet’s method of kneading the sticky dough mass until smooth and elastic seems just like the therapy I need today.

I’ll make some with chocolate!

Gratitude goes out to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this fun series of peeking into one another’s kitchens each month.

Promise, I’ll get back on track and not be so late  submitting next month.

Pain Chocolate

Pain Chocolate

What do you Keep in your Pantry?

Let’s talk about kitchen staples. I think it would be fascinating to see what other cultures and kitchens around the world always keep in their pantries.

Depending upon your cultural background, your staples will be different. Being located in the American South there is some influence of region like grits and corn meal and green tomatoes.

I am studying Nutrition Concepts and Medical Nutrition Therapy to gain a Certified Dietary Manager Certification. One of the concepts we study is the difference in food choices based upon religious or cultural influences.

Having lived in many places in the world, there are things I reach for and things that are added due to a cultural influence, like couscous and preserved lemons for instance.

However, there are things that are always there, ready to make something to eat.

  • Fresh garlic – if I get too much, I confit the garlic and reach for that too.
  • Onions – from red to sweet to shallots and scallions
  • Parmesan cheese – a block so it can be shredded, peeled or grated
    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true “parmesan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Eggs – large organic ones. I love Araucana eggs which are also known as “Easter Egg chickens” since their eggs are colored pink, blue and green naturally
  • Canned organic tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Potatoes – both russet and new potatoes; sometimes sweet potatoes, but not always
  • Basmati rice and brown rice blends
  • Fat free milk – I like to drink it (yes, still!)
  • Half and half – for coffee and tea
  • Fresh European Butter – Plugra is my brand of choiceHomemade Lime Tart Butter & Eggs
  • AP and Bread Flour – for making breads, tarts and dredging
  • Canned beans – black, dark red kidney, garbanzo, white kidney beans
  • A variety of vinegar – apple cider, rice wine, red wine, white wine, balsamic (expensive and less so) and basic white vinegar
  • Oils – olive, vegetable and toasted sesame (because I like Asian food so much!)
  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken and Turkey meat
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Anchovies and sardines
  • Dijon mustard
    English: Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g

    Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Yeast
  • A variety of pasta shapes – spaghetti
  • A jar of Dukes Mayonnaise – yes, I should make my own but this is so I don’t have to
    Only Duke's for Tomato Pie.
  • Some kind of pickle or pickles – either I make them of buy some. Gotta have a pickle with a sandwich
  • and new to my pantry is Coconut oil for saute
  • Last but not least, a variety of salt and pepper

.

What do you keep in your pantry? Please share!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Cut-out Christmas Sugar Cookies are some of my favorite cookies not only to make but sneaking one in with a cup of tea is pure heaven.

A festive plate of Christmas Cookies

A festive plate of Christmas Cookies

Although they may look sweet, they really aren’t too sweet. Well, kinda sorta.

They make great little gifts to children and adults enjoy them too.

To make the cookies, make the dough and cut out the shapes you want. I like using impression cutters so decorating is more like coloring.

Impressed snowmen

Impressed snowmen

The angel impression

The angel impression

Rolled Out Christmas Sugar Cookies

  • 8 ounces soft butter (or 2 sticks, or 1 cup)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cream the butter and the sugar, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Measure and mix the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

Scrape the bottom of the bowl; add the flour 1 cup at a time, until it all comes together.

Separate the dough into 2 balls. Cover 1 and roll out the other.

Roll out he dough and lay the cutters out.

Roll out he dough and lay the cutters out.

Lightly flour the counter and rolling-pin. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick or the thickness you desire. Just don’t make them too thin or else they will be very hard to decorate.

Cut out the desired shapes and place them on a parchment lines baking sheet.

Bake in a pre-heated 400°F oven for 6-8 minutes. The bottom of the cookies should be golden brown and the top will be pale when they are done.

Cool completely before frosting.

Lay the baked cookies on a baking sheet, organized by shape. It will make it easier to decorate them faster.

Lay the baked cookies on a baking sheet, organized by shape. It will make it easier to decorate them faster.

Butter Cream Frosting for Decorating Cookies

  • 1 cup Crisco or vegetable shortening’
  • 1 cup butter (or 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups 10x confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Whip the Crisco and butter together, add vanilla and salt.

Add the 10x sugar a little at a time, moistening with milk as needed.

Color with food coloring and use piping bags to create your own designs, outlines, fill ins etc.

Make them as detailed as you want. Personally, I like making these things come to life and do details with all kinds of decorating sugars and piping tips.

I bought a Wilton box of 18 gel food colors and decided to make a bit of every color. I also bought a roll of disposable piping bags and some tips for each bag. There were a lot of bags and colors which makes coloring with frosting in piping bags quite fun.

Take a clean rimmed sheet pan, line it with parchment. Choose 4-5 cookies to decorate and lay them on your sheet pan. With the coloring bags and decorative sugars laid out in front of you, pick and choose and start decorating.

Eat your mistakes.

Get friends, family and kids involved. It really is quite fun!

DSC_0051

One of the snowmen

One of the snowmen

A red-headed angel with a blue dress on

A red-headed angel with a blue dress on

Holly in her hair. . .

Holly in her hair. . .

A fun tray of decorated cookies. Decorating on a tray catches all the tiny sugar bits that don't stick to the cookies.

A fun tray of decorated cookies. Decorating on a tray catches all the tiny sugar bits that don’t stick to the cookies.

A cozy snowman

A cozy snowman

DSC_0012

 

After the cookies are decorated, I lay them out to look at them all.

After the cookies are decorated, I lay them out to look at them all.

DSC_0015

Each gift box will get at least one of these. They make great additions to cookie platters and kids love them.

Actually, I do too. I make them every year and love giving them away.

Turn on some Christmas music, whip up some frosting and decorate to your heart’s content.

An Easy Crust for Pies and Tarts

Here is a super simple dough to use for pies and tarts. One key to working with any tart dough is to keep it cold. This allows the fat to melt while baking which creates light, flaky crusts.

Plum Blackberry Almond Tart

With lots of holiday events approaching, here is a simple basic approach to a nice pie or tart dough.

If you want a double crust, double the recipe. This only makes 1 crust.

Easily done by hand, you can also use a food processor, just pulse the ingredients without the water, add water, bit by bit to make the dough mass. You may use all the water, only some or you may need more. It depends on how much moisture your flour holds.

Easy Pie or Tart Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 – 5 tablespoons ice-cold water

If creating the crust by hand, combine the salt and sugar with the flour. Cut the cubed butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two knives or a fork.

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry...

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry blender. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cut the fat into the flour

When the mix resembles a coarse mixture (you still want to see some globs of butter, don’t make it smooth) add the ice-cold water tablespoon by tablespoon.

The mass should come together. Only use as much water as you need to bring the ball together. You may need more water or less water. This is why you add it bit by bit.

Add enough water to just bring the dough ball together when you squeeze it.
You want to see blobs of fat in the dough, not smooth.

Press the dough into a ball and place it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press it into a disk.

Refrigerate until cold.

Roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap

Roll the chilled dough out to the size you need while it is still in between the wrap. This makes it easier to handle and is much easier to clean up too.

Remove one side of the plastic wrap. Position the dough over the pie or tart pan and press it into place.

Alternatively, you can press the dough into the pan and then chill while you prepare the filling.

Much easier is to use the fluted tart pans with the removable bottoms. Press the dough into the tart pan. Make sure you have at least 1/4 inch at the sides and at the curve of the pan so it is strong enough to stand on its own when the pan is removed.

Small fluted tart shells ready for filling

The fluted edge pans give all your tarts such a professional finished look, they are so worth the investment. Since they come in many sizes, you can make large tarts or small individual ones and any size in between.

Ready to fill and bake. See the fat? That means you will have a flaky crust.

Fill them just as you would a pie.

If you use a top crust, decorate it with dough cut outs instead of just a pile of dough on top of the filling.

Or use a strusel topping or leave the fruit exposed and glaze with melted apple or seedless raspberry jelly when the tart is done. This puts a “sealing glaze” on the fruit and makes it shiny. The photo of the Plum and Blackberry Almond Tart at the beginning of this post is finished with melted red currant jelly.

Here are some of my thoughts about using other ingredients besides water and butter.

Butter: Fat is fat, at least the melting point of butter is lower than body temperature. Fat provides tenderness and flavor to the crust. I’d rather eat butter than Crisco or lard or hydrogenated oils like margarine. I have yet to try coconut oil.

Water: Some recipes will ask you to use vodka instead of water. It provides a flaky crust too. Alcohol evaporates faster than water therefore creating a flakier crust. Try it if you like. I don’t drink distilled spirits so it never occurs to me to use vodka.

Flour: Use a good quality organic flour. You can use gluten-free flours too. I’m just not too sure how strong the non-wheat flours will hold up in a fluted pan once the outer ring is removed. My experience is most gluten-free baked goods are crumbly due to the lack of gluten.  Not sure how to over come that but since I’m not gluten-free, I use King Arther’s unbleached AP flour and I get pretty crusts.

I do know if I had to go gluten-free, I would miss pie crust, tarts, and good chewy bread tremendously.

No matter what liquid you use, just be sure it is ice-cold. I use a large measuring cup with lots of ice and water and scoop what I need from there. When finished, I pour the cold water into a glass and make lemonade or tea. I suppose you could do the same with vodka. Use lots of ice.

Bake off empty shells by lining with parchment and filling with rice or beans and baking until done. Fill with fresh fillings.

Fill unbaked shells with fruits, custards, fillings and bake until golden and bubbly. Times vary but usually take 45-55 minutes in a 350°F oven.

There are so many finishing and fillings!

Use any left over scraps to make dough cut outs. Egg wash them and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown. Use these on the top of the tarts, place them when the tart is still hot from the oven or serve as a garnish with each serving.

Be creative.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars or What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you may have from holiday meals. I find whole berry works best but if you like the jelly kind, use it too. Store bought, in a can or fresh, any cranberry sauce will work out quite well.

For the best, make your own cranberry sauce.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, line the pan with a sheet of parchment, allowing the sides of the paper to overhang on the long edge of the pan. This makes for easy removal from the pan after the bars are baked. Simply lift the paper and the whole thing can be moved to a cutting board or platter.

Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the dough:

  • 8 ounces soft  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, mix just until it comes together.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter and eggs, stirring slowly to combine, slowly add all of the oats and mix only until combined.

Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Top with cranberry sauce. Make sure to cover the entire surface, all the way to the edges. I added some seedless raspberry jam in dollops all over the dough too.

Dot the cream cheese over the surface of the dough.

Using the remaining half of the dough, dollop it over the top of the cranberries and cream cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

When the bars come out, drop 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. The heat from the baked bars will melt the chips, then spread the melted chocolate in swirled patterns over the top. You could drizzle some fondant icing over them too but that might be overkill.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Carefully lifting the sides of the overhanging paper, lift the baked bars onto a cutting board and cut them into the desired size with a sharp knife. Sprinkle any crumbles over yogurt.

Store covered at room temperature for up to 7 days. (If they last that long!)

Plated Oatmeal Cranberry Bar

Cinnamon Blueberry Almond Scones

Getting around to making scones for International Scone Week took some doing but finally, here is my dedicated scone.

Celia at Fig jam and Lime Cordial I believe started this “tradition” that now has an international reach.

There aren’t many photos as I figured most reading this would also have posted their scones and know the basic mixing process.

(Mix dry, cut in fat, add liquid, pat into shape, cut, bake)

This recipe is inspired by some pages from over 10 years ago entitled “The Joy of Baking Newsletter”.

This particular article had several scone recipes; some marked with “this is my favorite scone” so I thought it a good place to start.

Taking a basic “English” scone recipe ( less sugar) I added several elements together to create:

Cinnamon Blueberry Almond Scones

Cinnamon Blueberry Toasted Almond Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter int the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse corn meal.

Mix the half and half with the egg.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the milk and eggs into the well and mix together with a wooden spoon. Mix just until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Pat it into a 16×10 rectangle.

Allow the dough to rest while you mix the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Cinnamon mixture:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

Spread the cinnamon mixture all over the 16 x 10 dough, covering it completely.

Sprinkle fresh blueberries and toasted almonds over the surface.

Roll the dough into a cylinder, pinching seams closed.

Cut into 1 inch slices.

Spray a 9 x 9 inch square cake pan with pan release spray.

Place each slice, spiral slice up, into the cake pan, fill it up with the rolled slices.

Brush half and half over the surface of each slice.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown. Test doneness by using a toothpick, if it comes out clean, the scones are done.

Remove from the oven, invert onto a serving plate, flipping them again so the scones are right side up. Two plates are needed for this.

Drizzle the scones with fondant frosting and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Fondant frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons half and half or enough to create the desired consistency to drizzle the scones.

Mix together to reach desired consistency, drizzle over scones.

Serve with fresh blueberries.

Now, go out for a brisk walk or run to work off all these scones!

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