Edible Soup Spoons

Who needs soda crackers in their soup when it’s so easy to make edible spoons? Yes, you can have your spoon and eat it too! Surprisingly, one spoon will make it through an entire bowl of soup without falling apart, but if you give each person two or three, they can crunch away as they go, which is half the fun.

I used a little yeast in this simple dough to keep the spoons light; we wouldn’t want to break a tooth on them, right? The dough won’t rise much, but it will be easier to work with after an hour of rest. While I worked with half of the dough (I don’t have four dozen spoons) the other half was covered with plastic wrap, rising a bit again as it waited its turn. Once the spoons are covered with dough they go straight into the oven, because you don’t want them to rise at that point.

If you don’t need four dozen spoons, you could turn the remaining dough into breadsticks by cutting the dough into strips, brushing with melted butter and then sprinkling with garlic salt and Italian cheese. Give them a twist and bake until light brown and crunchy.

I can fit 18 spoons on a cookie sheet, which was plenty for me! If you get tired of making spoons, turn the rest of the dough into crunchy breadsticks.

Since the spoons need to be very firm, crunchy is what we’re going for here. VERY CRUNCHY! If you want soft, tender breadsticks, try my Breadsticks…How Cheesy Can You get?

I tried many different methods for shaping the dough to see which was fastest and easiest for me, and settled on rolling the dough out very thin, then cutting rough spoon shapes with a sharp knife. You may prefer to roll small pieces into ropes (skinny on one end, fat on the other), but the important thing is to cover the spoon with a very thin layer of dough. If it’s too thick it won’t be as crisp, and it will puff up, which won’t leave enough room in the bowl of the spoon for soup.

Thin, thicker, thickest!
The spoon on the left would be for a light soup. The spoon on the right would work for chili.

Edible Soup Spoons
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Makes at least 4 dozen edible spoons.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (or garlic salt)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2½ cups bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast (rapid rise)
  • Butter to coat the spoons
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, salt and sugar.
  2. Add flour and yeast. (If using a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook.) Mix until dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, adding a little more flour if necessary.
  3. Place dough on a floured surface and knead a few times until dough isn't sticky. Place in greased bowl or a plastic bag. Let dough sit for 1 hour. It will rise a little, but will not double.
  4. Heat oven to 375 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment. (The spoons slip around easily; use baking sheets with sides, if possible.) Gather STAINLESS teaspoons and tablespoons and place them upside down on the baking sheets. Coat the backs lightly with a thin coating of butter.
  5. Divide dough in half. Return one half to bowl or plastic bag while you work with the other half.
  6. On a floured surface, roll dough out very thin . . .no more than ⅛ inch. With a sharp knife cut out shapes roughly the size and shape of a spoon. Don't worry about being exact; you can stretch and pat the dough to fit.
  7. Start with the bowl of the spoon, pressing the dough to fit all the way to the edges. Press with the palm of your hand to make it even, trimming any excess around the edge with scissors if necessary.
  8. Twist the dough at the bottom of the bowl, where it turns into the handle, and press firmly onto the spoon, then cover the handle with the dough, cutting off the end or twisting it decoratively. You can also twist the whole handle, or braid . . . have fun and experiment!
  9. When all of the spoons are covered with dough, place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake approximately 18-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough and the weight of your silverware. Look for a rich golden brown around the edges.
  10. Remove from oven and leave the dough on the spoons for 5 minutes. Remove and allow stainless spoons to cool before repeating with the remaining dough.
  11. Best if used promptly, but if you are making them ahead, make sure they are completely cool before storing.
  12. You can also freeze them. If you want to serve them warm, just pop them in the oven for a few minutes at 375 F.

Place dough in greased bowl or plastic bag and let it sit for 1 hour. It will rise a little, but won’t double.

This dough was a little thick. Thin is better, but if you want sturdy, be sure to bake it a little longer.

Ready for the oven.

Baked. Let them sit on the spoons for 5 minutes.

We’re moving into my favorite time of year. Pears and apples, nutmeg and cinnamon, maple everything . . . I love Fall! The garden goes to sleep and I have time to play in the kitchen and linger in my happy place. I just bought forty pounds of Honeycrisp apples and some gorgeous pears, so I guess you know what’s coming next.

Lorinda

Sourdough Rye Bread

I love dense, chewy rye bread, but wanted something lighter for sandwiches and rolls. With yeast in short supply in many places right now, I was pleased to find that using sourdough starter and just 1/4 teaspoon of yeast created two wonderful loaves of bread. I tried a batch without any yeast, and it was really good, but it took a little longer to rise and was slightly denser.

You probably know by now that I don’t always play by the rules. Experimenting is half the fun! Purists will hiss through their teeth when they see I’ve added yeast to my sourdough sponge, but it made lovely, light loaves of bread. I just used it as insurance, but if you have a robust sourdough starter and don’t mind a little more rise time, by all means skip the commercial yeast!

If you aren’t familiar with using a sponge when making bread, I really urge you to give it a try. It isn’t complicated or difficult. In a few minutes you can mix it up, tuck it in, and go to bed. When you wake up in the morning it will be ready to go to work.

A sponge creates a lighter loaf of bread, with more flavor, and is worth the extra bit of effort.

Still not sold? You may want to try my Resolution Rye Bread instead.

For this recipe you will need sourdough starter, rye flour, and bread flour. Bread flour makes a big difference. Rye flour is very low in gluten, and between that and the minimal amount of yeast in the recipe, the dough needs the extra ‘oompf’ bread flour offers.

Try to resist cutting into it while it’s hot, because it’s still baking inside. But DO get some while it’s warm!

Actual hands-on time for this bread is maybe 30 minutes, (a few more if you knead by hand) but it takes a long time to rise, so start your sponge the night before and just hang out the next day so you can let your dough set the pace.

Sourdough Rye Bread
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Makes two large loaves
Ingredients
  • SPONGE:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (approximate; if you have a little less, that's fine)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • BREAD:
  • Sourdough sponge
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ½ cup very strong coffee
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon caraway seed (optional)
  • Cornmeal
Instructions
  1. SPONGE: Start this the night before. Combine sourdough starter, sugar, yeast, bread flour, and warm water in a medium bowl. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
  2. DOUGH: In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with dough hook is recommended) combine the sponge, warm water, coffee, molasses, and cooking oil.
  3. Add rye flour and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Add salt, bread flour, and caraway seeds. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on a floured surface for 7 to 8 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky. If kneading with the mixer, dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. If not, add more bread flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If kneading by hand, use a lightly floured surface and add a little flour at a time, just enough to make it easy to handle. A dough scraper will help.
  5. Move dough into a large greased bowl. Use slightly damp hands to form it into a ball and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise until double. Depending on many factors this may take two to three hours.
  6. Prepare a large baking sheet by sprinkling it with cornmeal, then punch down the dough and form into two long loaves. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until double . . . 2 to 3 hours.
  7. Heat oven to 375 F.
  8. Slash across each loaf several times with a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Bake for 40 minutes, or until dark brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with your knuckles.
  9. Slide loaves onto cooling rack, brush with butter if desired, and allow to cool before cutting.

Bubbly sponge!

Add bread flour and salt last. (And caraway seeds, if desired. Some people use fennel too.)

The dough is a little sticky. You may need to use a rubber spatula to scoop into greased bowl. Damp hands work well to coax it into a ball.

Risen, and ready to punch down and form into two loaves.

My dough doesn’t look very smooth, partly because of the caraway seeds (I love them and tend to get carried away) and partly because I grind my own rye berries. This time I left them a little coarse. I’m pretty sure you’ll buy your rye flour at the store, which will be a little less . . . rustic.

You do YOU, of course, but here is how I form my loaves:

First I pull all of the edges up to the top to make a rough ball.

Then, start from one side and roll it like a sleeping bag. Pinch the ends into submission (make them round and pretty) and place seam down on baking sheet.

Ready to cover and let rise.

Slash the bread! Dusting with flour (my preference) is optional.

Try different shapes if you’d like. Just adjust the baking time for smaller loaves.

Before you dig in, you may want to sacrifice part of a loaf for absolutely killer croutons! What a treat. I had to hide some for salads because The Man was eating them hand over fist.

Mmmmm. Croutons.

Enjoy,

Lorinda

Easter Bread Baskets

I love this bread. It’s fast and easy, uses only a few ingredients, and tastes like heaven . . . soft and fluffy inside, crispy and crackly outside, though for this recipe I added a little olive oil and skipped the steam bath in the oven, because as much as I adore that crackly crust, it wasn’t the look I was after.

The recipe makes enough for a large basket, flower decorations, and lots of rolls to fill your basket with. If you just want to make the basket and skip the rolls, cut the recipe in half.

Making the basket really isn’t hard at all. If you’ve ever made a lattice pie crust, you’ve got this! You know, under and over. Under and over. If there are any unattractive spots, cover them with flowers! I made roses for one and daisies and wild flowers for the other, then painted them with colored cream.

This recipe looks intimidating, but that’s just because I had a really hard time explaining the details of weaving with dough, Just look at the pictures; you’ll figure it out!.

Easter Bread Baskets
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Makes a large basket, flower decorations, and enough rolls to fill it to overflowing. If you only want to make the basket, cut the recipe in half! YOU WILL NEED AN OVEN-SAFE BOWL
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups very warm water
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • heavy cream and food coloring if desired for flower decorations
Instructions
  1. Cover the outside of an oven-safe mixing bowl with foil, pressing firmly to smooth out wrinkles. (I used an 8-inch bowl because that was all I had, but a larger one would be great.) For best results, spray foil lightly with a flour/oil baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is highly recommended) combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to soften yeast.
  3. With mixer running on low and using a dough hook, gradually add flour and salt. Once combined, add olive oil.
  4. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on lightly floured surface for 7 minutes. Dough should be smooth and buttery, not sticky.
  5. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour in a warm kitchen.
  6. Heat oven to 375 F.
  7. Punch down dough. Divide in half. Return one half to the bowl and cover to rise again. Place the other half on a lightly floured surface and roll out approximately 16 inches by 13 inches.
  8. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut 8 long strips, about ⅓-inch wide. Turn prepared bowl upside down on a baking sheet and place one strip across the bowl, letting it drape down both sides to the baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch extra at the bottom. Cut off any extra. (Keep scraps under plastic wrap to use later.) Repeat with the other 7 pieces, keeping them evenly spaced. I find it's easiest to start with one horizontal, then one vertical, and then fill in the gaps.
  9. Cut 7 more strips. (Hint: If the long strips are too awkward to work with, cut them in half. You can hide a jointed piece under any vertical strip.) Lifting every other piece, weave the dough strip under and over the vertical strips at the top of the bowl. (Which is actually the bottom of the bowl, right? So confusing.) Add another ring, then press them down firmly. Once baked, this will be where it sits, so it needs to be firm and flat.
  10. Continue down the side of the bowl. Try not to stretch the dough.
  11. When you get to the bottom, Fold the vertical strips over the bottom ring and pinch firmly. (Some will go up and over, some with go under. Use your thumb to press around the bottom, at each vertical strip and in the space between.
  12. To make roses, cut strips 4-5 inches long and roll up, pinching to thin dough as you go. Press firmly onto basket. Cut out and add other flowers and leaves using small cutters. (Remember to point the leaves down, because it will be flipped over when it's baked.) Paint with a little heavy cream colored with food coloring.
  13. Bake for approximately 15-17 minutes, until it begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit until almost cool. Gently pull pan and foil away from basket.
  14. HANDLE: Twist two ½-inch wide strips of dough together. Place over upside down bowl and trim at the bottom, tucking the ends under the bowl. Place on baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, until it starts to turn golden. Remove and let cool.
  15. ROLLS: Increase temperature of oven to 400 F.
  16. Punch down remaining dough. Cut into equal-size pieces (about 2 ounces each) and shape into balls. Use the scraps to make more rolls. Place 1 inch apart on parchment covered baking sheets and let rise for 30 minutes. Cut an "X" into the top of each and bake until tops are golden - about 15-17 minutes.
  17. Handle can be attached with toothpicks, or simply set into the basket, supported by the rolls.

Place dough in greased bowl. Let it rise until doubled.

Fat and sassy! It took an hour to rise in my (very) warm kitchen. If your place is cooler, it could take longer.

I rolled mine long and skinny. Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s about 1/4-inch thick.

Lay 8 strips across bowl, evenly spaced. Leave at least 1 inch at the bottom. (Use more if you want a tighter weave.)

Weave the first strip, over and under. Pinch together where they meet.

2nd strip. Press down with hand before working your way down the bowl. The basket will sit on this, so make it nice and flat!

Fold extra dough (trimming if necessary) over bottom ring.

After folding ends over bottom ring, press around the bottom edge at junction of horizontal and vertical pieces and once in between each vertical piece. Just makes it purty.

Cut flowers and leaves using cookie or gum paste cutters, or press dough into fondant molds

Roll strips of dough to create roses.

Press decorations firmly onto basket. Paint with heavy cream and food coloring.

After basket is baked and removed from bowl, twist two pieces of dough together and lay across bowl, tucking ends under to hold in place. Bake. This is the handle. (Totally optional.)

I added some little dove rolls and decorated “egg” rolls to this basket. The egg rolls were uncooperative. Maybe a different bread dough would be better. The doves were fun and sweet. But that’s a blog for another day.

The world is going crazy right now, but I wish you a blessed Easter. For the record, baking is supposed to be very calming to the spirit. I recommend it highly!

Lorinda

Chocolate Walnut Holiday Bread

Pull off a branch of this Christmas tree and bite into tender bread layered with creamy dark chocolate and ground walnuts. I couldn’t resist adding maraschino cherries to make the bread even more festive. It’s rich without being too sweet, and the chocolate flavor really stands out.

This dough needs to chill overnight, so make it in the evening, let it rise, and then put it in the fridge until the next day. 

I’m sure you’ve seen variations of this idea, often using puff pastry and hazelnut spread. (Check out YouTube for this option.) It would have been much easier, but I wanted to make things difficult, of course, preferring a soft, puffy 3-D appearance.

I’m posting this at the last moment, but inspiration just struck today and I had to bake this. If you’re too busy this Christmas, the strips of layered dough could easily be woven into a heart for Valentine’s Day. Or you could simply roll the dough out, spread with the chocolate mixture, roll up and slice, and bake like cinnamon rolls.

This is undeniably messy to make. You will get chocolate on your hands, on the counter, and on the bread itself. But your hands and the counter will wash, and the chocolate smears on the dough just makes the bread prettier, honest!

Since this is a last minute slam-dunk, I’ll dispense with my usual chit chat and just go right to the recipe!

Chocolate Walnut Holiday Bread
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Ingredients
  • BREAD:
  • ¼ cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounces chocolate (I used semi-sweet mini chips)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups ground walnuts (grind in a food processor for 10 seconds)
  • Maraschino cherries, if desired, blotted well with paper towel
  • Egg wash: 1 egg and 1 teaspoon milk or water, whisked together well
  • Powdered sugar and water glaze, if desired
Instructions
  1. BREAD DOUGH:
  2. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Allow to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes
  3. In a small pan place 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Heat on medium until butter is melted. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot.
  4. Pour warm milk mixture, yeast mixture, and eggs into large bowl. (A stand mixer with dough hook is recommended) and mix until combined.
  5. Add flour and salt and mix well.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons softened butter and knead by machine for 5 minutes. (Dough will be too soft to knead by hand. If you don't have a stand mixer, stir with a heavy spoon.)
  7. Scrape dough into a generously greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double - about 1 hour.
  8. Punch down the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  9. FILLING: The next day, in a medium pan on low heat, combine the cream, butter, and chocolate. Stir often until chocolate melts. Once the mixture is smooth, add the flour and ground nuts. Stir well and set aside. Mixture will need to set up a little. If you plan on starting the bread right away, place the pan in a cold water bath. (Put the pan of chocolate filling in a larger pan and add cold water to the bottom pan, bringing it halfway up the side of the pan of chocolate.) Stir occasionally until thickened.
  10. ASSEMBLY: Place a sheet of parchment in a 12x17 rimmed baking pan. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop onto floured surface. Form a long roll, flatten, and roll into a 24-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Spread with the filling and cut into three 8x14-inch pieces. Roll each up from the long side, stretching slightly to create rolls that are 18 inches long.
  11. Cut two of the rolls LENGTHWISE down the middle, exposing the chocolate layers. You will have 4 long skinny pieces and one whole piece (for the trunk).
  12. Note: Remember that dough will rise as it bakes, If all of your branches touch the sides of the pan, the tree will look square. Only let the bottom, bigger branches touch the sides of the pan.
  13. Pick up one of the cut pieces (yes, this will get messy) and twist it. Place it down in an upside-down 'V' shape, at the bottom (short end) of the pan. leaving room for a trunk. It will be too long; cut extra off with a scissors or knife.and set scrap aside. About an inch above the bottom branch, add another twisted piece, cutting off extra. This piece will be smaller, so the scrap will be larger. Repeat two more times, getting progressively smaller with each branch.
  14. Using the palms of your hands, roll the uncut piece to make it longer and skinnier, tapering it at one end, and place it in the center of the branches, putting the skinny end at the top and going from top to bottom, creating a trunk. Cut off excess, and cut the scrap down the middle to use for branches.
  15. Twist and stretch the remaining scraps to make them a little thinner, then fill in your tree, laying branches across the trunk. Pull and twist to shape the tree to your satisfaction. Cut some vertical lines down the trunk to look like bark.
  16. If you're using maraschino cherries, tuck them into the branches. Cover bread with a towel and allow it to rise for 30 minutes..
  17. Heat oven to 350 F. Brush bread with egg wash and bake for approximately 40 minutes. (Cover lightly with foil if bread is getting too dark.) Remove from oven and cool on rack.
  18. Use glaze to add "snow" to the branches, if desired.

Dissolve yeast until bubbly in very warm water with a pinch of sugar.

Combine warm milk mixture, yeast, and eggs.

Mix in flour and salt, then knead in softened butter. Dough will be soft and will stick to the bowl. That’s okay!

Scrape dough into buttered bowl. Flip over to coat both sides and let rise until doubled. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Finely grind the walnuts in a food processor for about 10 seconds.

Heat cream, butter, and chocolate until smooth. Stir in nuts and flour.

Drop chilled dough onto floured surface. Use hands to make a long roll, then roll it out 24×14

Spread with filling

Cut into three equal pieces and roll each from the long edge.

 

Use a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) to slice up the middle of two rolls. This is where it starts getting messy!

First layer, place 4 branches, then top with uncut roll for trunk

Add another layer of branches. Get creative! Twist and pull to shape it, then add maraschino cherries.

I’m in love with the way this dough turned out. It was so soft I had my doubts, but once it was chilled, it was very cooperative. I’ll be playing with it more in the future, for sure.

TIPS:

  • I use maraschino cherries without artificial color. If you use regular ones, they will be brighter and prettier.
  • If you have a larger pan, use it! It will be much easier to shape your tree.
  • If you don’t have a food processor or blender, just chop the nuts finely.
  • I like to put a little meringue powder in my icing to give it more body.
  • If it looks like your bread is getting too dark, lightly cover it with foil as it bakes.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Lorinda

Tomato “Soup and Sandwich” Bread

Tomato soup with a crisp, buttery grilled cheese sandwich has always been one of my favorite lunch combinations. True comfort food; a staple of the 60s. As strange as this may sound, I rolled the two flavors into one light, fluffy, killer loaf of bread. It’s tasty eaten plain, incredible toasted, and absolutely over the top when it’s grilled, with even more cheese. (After all, fall is here and big sweaters are back. Eat the cheese and pull the sweater down a little more. No one will notice, and I won’t tell.)

The tomato flavor is distinct, yet subtle. I experimented, using tomato soup (reconstituted from condensed) in one batch and spicy tomato vegetable juice in the other. The vegetable juice won the taste test hands down. I didn’t detect any heat from the spicy juice, but surprisingly it had more tomato tang than the soup.

Butter and sharp cheddar cheese add another layer of flavor. I used lots of grated cheese in this bread, but it was even better when I added some chopped chunks to the dough to create little gooey pockets. (Optional, of course.)

It’s so simple to make, it really is! And apparently the acid in the tomato juice gives it that fluffy, even texture—something that’s important in a sandwich bread. Wow, it slices up nicely.

Tomato Soup and Sandwich Bread
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Makes one large loaf of tomato-cheese goodness.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup tomato vegetable juice (I used the spicy variety)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 3¼ - 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (or to taste)
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Additional chopped cheese, up to ½ cup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease (or use baking spray) a large bread pan. This makes a tall loaf of bread, so if your pan is on the small side, you may want to make a turn ¼ of the dough into a small personal-size round loaf or a couple of rolls. Form them on a small baking sheet. (Baking time will be shorter.)
  2. Heat tomato juice and butter together on low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to lukewarm.
  3. In a small bowl combine warm water , sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  4. Put lukewarm tomato mixture into a large bowl. (A stand mixer with dough hook is recommended.)
  5. Add yeast mixture, 3 cups bread flour, salt, and basil. Beat for 1 minute. Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make dough come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Dough will be soft and slightly tacky, but should not be sticky. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on a lightly floured board for 7 minutes.
  6. Knead in the cheese. Form a ball with the dough and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
  7. Once risen, form into a loaf and place in prepared bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 45 minutes.
  8. Heat oven to 375 F. Bake bread in center of oven for approximately 45 minutes. Top will feel very firm and bread will sound hollow when turned out of pan and thumped on the bottom. Allow bread to cool before cutting.

Heat tomato juice and butter until butter is melted. Cool until lukewarm.

Add softened yeast, basil, salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour to the tomato mixture and knead. Add enough remaining flour to make dough come cleanly away from side of bowl.

Add the cheese. (Cheese chunks too, if you want melty pockets of cheese in your bread.)

Place dough in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Form loaf and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Ready for the oven.

Brush a little butter on the top while it’s hot, if you want a shine.

This is wonderful toasted, but The Man and I took it one step further. He had a patty melt . . .

. . . and I had a grilled cheese.

Happy fall! Stay warm and cozy . . . and bake some bread.

Lorinda

Easy Cheesy Italian Knots

Making this bread dough is a snap; it just doesn’t get any easier than this. If you are efficient, the dough can be ready to rise in 15 minutes flat. And with a few swipes of garlic butter, a sprinkle of cheese, and a couple of cuts and twists, you can make 16 incredible cheesy garlic knots that will make you very popular. (Disclaimer: I used a lot of garlic in this recipe. If you want to maintain that popularity, don’t breathe on anybody after eating one. Or maybe swish first with a lovely red wine . . .)

I made these three ways. The easiest—Cheesy Garlic Knots—is also my husband’s favorite, so that’s the recipe I’ll give you. Instructions for the other two variations (Saucy Salami, and Olive and Fig) will be at the bottom of the post . . . worth scrolling for!

Cheesy Garlic Knots

Saucy Salami Knots

Olive and Fig Knots

Easy Cheesy Italian Knots
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Makes 16 knots. Use whatever kind of cheese you enjoy. I like to use cheddar and jack, with a little Parmesan and Asiago for a flavorful kick.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 1½ cups very warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • FILLING:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated cheese, lightly packed
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow mixture to sit until slightly bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  2. Add olive oil, salt, garlic salt, and bread flour. Mix well using a dough hook (or if mixing by hand, use a sturdy spoon) then knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 7 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  3. FILLING: Combine softened butter, olive oil, pressed garlic, and salt. Mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon for brushing over knots.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with one at a time, roll into a 12-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Spread ¼ of the garlic butter mixture over the dough. Cover with ¼ of the cheese. Beginning at long side, roll snugly. Cut the roll in half, creating two 6-inch pieces. Cut each of these in half LENGTHWISE, exposing the layers.
  5. Stretch each piece gently while twisting until dough is approximately 9-10 inches long. Tie in a knot and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all of the dough, yielding 16 knots. Cover lightly with a towel and let the knots rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Heat oven to 400 F. Bake knots 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with reserved garlic butter mixture. Serve slightly warm.

Once yeast is bubbly, add oil, salt, and flour. Knead well and let rise until doubled.

Combine butter, oil, and garlic. (Make sure you save a little for brushing on hot knots.)

Spread one piece of dough with garlic butter and cover with a generous amount of grated cheese.

Roll snugly and cut in half.

Cut the halves in half, but LENGTHWISE this time to expose the layers. Twist and stretch, then tie in a knot

Cheesy Garlic Knots, ready to rise and bake.

Wait ’til you smell these! And if you think these are good, try one of the other variations below. Hint: don’t be too generous with the sauce or fig spread; it’ll make a big mess when you try to twist and knot!

Saucy Salami version: spread spaghetti sauce over garlic butter. Salami is added on top of the cheese. (Ignore the size; this was taken before I got smart and rolled the dough in smaller pieces.)

Saucy Salami: In addition to the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe above, you’ll need 1/2 cup spaghetti (or pizza) sauce, and 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian dry salami.

Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons per each piece of dough) spaghetti sauce. (Pizza sauce would be good, too.) Don’t use too much or the dough will be much harder to twist and knot. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian dry salami over cheese. Roll, cut, and bake as described in the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe.

Olive and Fig version: Add store bought kalamata/fig spread. So good! (Yes, you can make your own olive/fig tapenade if you’d like. There are lots of lovely recipes for that on Google.)

Olive and Fig: You’ll need a jar of olive fig spread. I bought this jar of spread at the grocery store, but they have a lot of brands online.

Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 1 tablespoon per each piece of dough) olive fig spread before adding the cheese.  The kalamata olives are so flavorful, and figs add a touch of sweetness. Delightful!

These are dangerous – at least around here. I can’t stop at one, and I swear they’re even more flavorful the next day if they’re stored in an airtight container. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Lorinda

 

 

Cheesy Dilly Bun Burgers

May is Burger Month, and this post is part of a fantastic burger grill giveaway hosted by Girl Carnivore, where we all try to outdo each other to produce the best burger imaginable . . .but the burger you’re about to see is all my own. (So are the inevitable opinions and tasteless jokes.)

Play along for a chance to win an impressive grilling package. The entry link is at the bottom of the post. Be sure to follow along every day for the entire month of May for chances to win the Ultimate Burger Grilling Giveaway and check Burgermonth.com daily for all of the tantalizing burgers.

This zesty burger is filled with cheese, smothered in a crispy cheese skirt, and surrounded by a cheese and pickle bun. So much cheese! And that dilly bun is amazing, with a surprisingly restrained dill undertone, although a generous amount of chopped dill pickle and some fresh dill is added to the dough. Even those who aren’t pickle fans will like this bun.

And it’s all about the bun for me. I mean, I’m The Rowdy Baker, not The Rowdy Grillmaster. Hamburgers are simply a wonderful excuse to scarf down big, fat, fresh buns!

We’ve had some munificent sponsors who have sent us products to try. What a kick!

One of our wonderful sponsors, Red Duck, sent me a bottle of their Red Duck Smoky Ketchup, and I added a lavish amount to the burger before grilling, along with some chopped onions and a dash of balsamic vinegar. The result was a mildly sweet, slightly savory burger. I drizzled a little more of the ketchup over my burger; it’s that good.

I could afford to be generous with the cheese, thanks to Cabot Cheese, who sent me six different varieties. They were all wonderful, even the (whooEEEE) Fiery Jack. Through experience I can assure you that the quality of your cheese really matters when making cheese skirts. I experimented, and my usual brand (which shall not be named) made a greasy mess.

And for the pièce de résistance, a bag of hickory chips arrived from Western BBQ Products, which made a huge difference in the flavor of my burgers. I didn’t know you could use them in a gas grill, but it turns out you can! I put some in a stainless bread pan and let the grill get all smoky before the burgers went in there. You’ll want to go to their website to see all of the tempting flavors. I’m dying to try the Maple, Pecan, and Jack Daniels chips. It’s like they know me!

 

Cheesy Dilly Bun Burgers
Print
Author:
Bun recipe makes 8 Burger recipe makes 6. Don't complain - just eat the extra buns!
Ingredients
  • BUNS:
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk powder
  • ¼ cup oil (light olive, canola, peanut oil all work well)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 large (or 4 spears) dill pickle (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (more to taste)
  • pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • BURGER:
  • 2½ pounds lean ground Angus beef
  • ⅓ cup Ketchup (I used Red Duck Organic Smoky Ketchup)
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound cheese, grated (I used Cabot Pepper Jack)
  • Whatever condiments float your boat!
Instructions
  1. BUNS: Prepare two large baking sheets by covering in parchment, or by greasing lightly.
  2. In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended), combine very warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg, milk powder, and oil. Mix well.
  4. Add flour and salt. Mix well and continue to knead by machine for 5-6 minutes (7-8 minutes on floured surface if kneading by hand).
  5. Mix in the grated cheese.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about an hour.
  7. Quarter the dill pickle (or use pickle spears). With a sharp knife, remove the soft, seedy centers. Finely chop the remaining pickle. You should have about ½ cup of chopped pickles. Roll in several layers of paper towel and squeeze firmly to remove as much of the juice as possible.
  8. On floured surface work the chopped pickles and fresh dill into the dough, along with pepper if you choose to add it. (Dust with flour as you work, if necessary.) Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and form each into a ball, placing 4 on each prepared baking sheet.
  9. Press to flatten, using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a salad plate, aiming for 4 inches across. cover and allow to rise in a warm place until puffy - about 40 minutes.
  10. Heat oven to 375 F.
  11. In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the cup of water, the baking soda, and the egg. Using your hand, carefully pick up a bun and drop it top-down in the soda mixture.Remove quickly by gently pressing on one side as you lift the other, flipping it upright. Place it back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese if you wish, and bake for 12-14 minutes, until top is a rich golden brown. Cool on baking racks.
  12. BURGERS:
  13. In a medium bowl, combine burger, ketchup, sweet onion, vinegar, and pepper. Divide into 12 equal portions.
  14. Flatten each into thin 5-inch patties. Place a small handful of grated cheese in the center of 6 patties. Cover each with one of the remaining patties, pressing edges together firmly. Using your hands, press around the outer edge, toward the center, creating a nice, round, plump patty. Cook to desired doneness.
  15. To create cheese skirt: place each cooked burger on greased (don't skip that step!) piece of foil. Place a large handful of cheese on the top and close the lid to the grill (or cover each patty with a foil tent). Check often - the cheese should be melted in a lovely pool around the burger. Once it starts to get crispy, remove from the heat.
  16. Construct your burger, adding whatever vegetables or condiments you like.

 

Chop one large dill pickle.

Once dough rises add chopped pickle, fresh dill, and pepper (optional). Combine, but be careful not to overwork your dill dough. (Snort) So many jokes regarding buns and dill dough. I know, I know. I’ll stop now.

Divide dill dough into eight equal pieces. I’m a nerd; I weigh them.

Form into balls and flatten on baking sheet.

Once the buns have risen, dip in baking soda mixture. Be careful – don’t squeeeeze!

Add goodies to your meat. Here’s the Red Duck Ketchup going in.

Make twelve thin patties. Add cheese to six of them.

Cover with the remaining patties and pinch the edges.

Grill your burgers, then set each one on a greased piece of foil. Cover with a mound of cheese.

Crispy cheese skirt.

Check out Burgermonth.com to get your daily fix of burger creations, then enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win the Ultimate Burger Grilling Giveaway! Here’s a peek at the goodies:

Each day there are several blogs scheduled with over-the-top, juicy, irresistible burgers. Keep an eye out for recipes from the following burger fans:
🍔 Girl Carnivore 🍔 A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures 🍔 A Simple Pantry 🍔 Abra’s Kitchen 🍔 AcadiaTwo’s Kitchen Antics 🍔 An Affair from the Heart 🍔 Bakersbeans 🍔 Betsi’s World 🍔Caroline’s Cooking 🍔 Cindy’s Recipes and Writings 🍔 City Living Boston 🍔 Cluttercafe 🍔 Cooking With Carlee 🍔 Convos with Karen 🍔Daily Dish Recipes 🍔 Dance Around The Kitchen 🍔 Dixie Chik Cooks 🍔 Dizzy Busy and Hungry 🍔 Doodlecraft 🍔 Everyday Eileen 🍔 Family Around the Table 🍔 Family Food on the Table 🍔 Family Spice 🍔Farmwife Feeds 🍔Food Above Gold 🍔 For the Love of Food 🍔 Grillax.com 🍔 Grilling Montana 🍔 Grumpy’s Honeybunch 🍔 Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks 🍔 Honeybunch Hunts 🍔 HORNS BBQ 🍔 Intelligent Domestications 🍔 It Is a Keeper 🍔 Jolene’s Recipe Journal 🍔 Jonesin For Taste 🍔 Juggling Act Mama 🍔 Karen’s Kitchen Stories 🍔 Kate’s Recipe Box 🍔 Krazy Kitchen Mom 🍔 Life Anchored 🍔 Life of a Ginger 🍔 Mildly Meandering 🍔 Miss in the KItchen 🍔 Palatable Pastime 🍔 Pastry Chef Online 🍔 Perspective Portions 🍔 Plowing Through Life 🍔 PNW Eats 🍔 Pook’s Pantry 🍔 Real Life With Dad 🍔 Sarah’s Cucina Bella 🍔 Seduction In The Kitchen 🍔 Simple and Savory 🍔 Souffle Bombay 🍔 Spiced 🍔 Spoonabilities 🍔 Strawberry Blondie Kitchen 🍔 SueBee Homemaker 🍔 Sumptuous Spoonfuls 🍔 Sweet ReciPeas 🍔 Swirls of Flavor 🍔 Take Two Tapas 🍔 Tampa Cake Girl 🍔 Taste And See 🍔 The Baking Fairy 🍔 The Beard and The Baker 🍔 The Complete Savorist 🍔 The Crumby Kitchen 🍔 The Heritage Cookbook Project 🍔 The Keto Guy 🍔 The Redhead Baker 🍔 The Rowdy Baker 🍔 The Schmidty Wife 🍔 The Shirley Journey 🍔 The Spiffy Cookie 🍔 This Farm Girl Cooks 🍔 Thyme for Cocktails 🍔 We are not Martha 🍔 Well Fed Baker 🍔 West Via Midwest 🍔 What’s Cooking Italian Style Cuisine 🍔 Who Needs A Cape? 🍔 Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen 🍔 Wok & Skillet 🍔 Zest & Simmer 🍔

I’d like to offer a great big thank you (mwah!) to the #BurgerMonth sponsors for the Ultimate Burger Grilling Giveaway:  Cabot Cheese, Char-Griller Grills, Crow Canyon Home, Porter Road, Melissas Produce, Red Duck, Spiceology, &  Western BBQ. You made this so exciting!

And now, it’s back to sugar and flour.

Lorinda

 

Kulich Easter Bread

Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter bread, is a tall column of buttery, slightly sweet bread filled with fruit. The texture is feathery, not soft like a cinnamon roll. Lightly spiced, with a hint of orange (and if you choose, a touch of cognac, brandy, or rum), this recipe is certain to become a family favorite.

In Russia, the kulich is taken to church to be blessed after the Easter service; it’s that important!  Some believe the iced, domed top is supposed to represent a snow-covered orthodox church. (It snowed a lot on my kulich. I may have gotten carried away with the icing this time.) It’s also traditionally decorated with flowers on top, which is a stunning presentation for Easter.

Have you ever eaten Panettone? Kulich is very similar. Some people like to add chopped almonds, but I prefer to just use fruit.

I bought paper panettone molds—which made the whole process so much easier. There are very nice nonstick molds available too. They’re on my wish list! You can also use coffee cans that are lined with buttered parchment.

This will take a while to make, but requires very little hands-on effort. It’s a rich dough and rises three times, with a total of six to ten hours of rise time. Plan to hang around the the house the day before Easter so you can monitor the dough as it progresses from sponge to dough to masterpiece. While it’s doing its thing you can dye eggs, eat chocolates, run to the store, and go about your business.

Easter Kulich
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Author:
Start this project in the morning. The bread is very slow to rise! Makes two tall loaves or three shorter loaves.
Ingredients
  • SPONGE:
  • 1 cup very warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • BREAD:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup currants or chopped dried fruit
  • ⅓ cup cognac (or brandy, rum, or orange juice)
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • Zest from one orange
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups bread flour (a little more if necessary)
  • ½ cup candied citrus peel, chopped
  • FROSTING:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
  • Milk to thin the frosting if necessary
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended), combine the warm milk and sugar. Add the yeast and let it sit for 2–3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well.
  2. Add 1 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the yeast mixture. Do not stir! Cover and let the sponge sit for 2–3 hours. The yeast mixture will rise and cover most of the flour.
  3. While the sponge is rising, combine the raisins, dried fruit, and alcohol (or orange juice) in a small bowl. Cover.
  4. When the sponge has risen (expect to see pockets of flour) add the eggs and egg yolks to the sponge and mix well.
  5. Add sugar and mix well.
  6. Add the melted butter gradually, until completely incorporated.Switch to a dough hook if you're using a stand mixer.
  7. Add the orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and 2 cups flour. Mix well.
  8. Gradually add remaining cup of flour.
  9. Drain alcohol from raisins. (Don't waste it - it's wonderful in coffee!) Add drained raisins and candied citrus to dough.
  10. Knead by machine for 5 minutes (or by hand 7-8 minutes). Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, but should still be soft and slightly sticky. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  11. Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take several hours.
  12. If you are not using disposable panettone molds, prepare pans. Line the bottoms and sides of two or three (depending on the height you want) 1-pound coffee cans with buttered parchment paper. You can also use large ramekins, with heavy foil wrapped around the outside to add height.
  13. Place molds on a baking sheet. Divide dough in half for two taller loaves, or into thirds for three shorter ones. Form into smooth balls and place into prepared molds. Press gently with fingers to flatten the tops slightly; this will keep them nice and even when they bake. Cover and allow to rise until the dough gets close to the top of the molds. This can take 3-5 hours!
  14. Heat oven to 350 F.
  15. Cover molds lightly with foil and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the dough comes out clean. Remove foil if a darker top is desired. Depending on the size of your pans, baking time can be 45–60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Lay them on their side on the rack for 10–15 minutes, rolling gently every few minutes. Slide kulich out of the cans or molds and cool on the rack, rolling once or twice to avoid flat sides.
  16. When cool, combine the powdered sugar, lemon or orange juice, and enough milk to make a frosting that will ooze slowly over the sides of the kulich when the top is frosted. Frost the tops and decorate with flowers, nuts, raisins, or sprinkles.

Once the sponge has absorbed most of the flour (this will take 2-3 hours), add eggs and beat well.

Beat in the sugar.

Gradually add the butter.

Add orange zest, spices, vanilla, and 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Gradually add remaining 1 cup of flour until dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl.

Add drained raisins and candied fruit. Knead by machine 5 minutes or by hand 7-8 minutes.

Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, 2-3 hours.

Place dough in three molds for shorter kulich, or two molds for taller ones. You guessed it . . . let them rise a loooooong time. 3-5 hours. Then bake!

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

Lorinda

 

 

Bourbon Praline King Cake

How fun is this? I’d never made or eaten a King Cake before I tackled this project, but was very glad I finally succumbed to Mardi Gras madness. It took a few tries before I was satisfied that the resulting King Cake matched the picture in my head, but you can learn from my trials and nail it on your first try.

I did learn two things that I’d like to pass along:

My first piece of wisdom: buy a little plastic baby to hide in the cake. (I can’t get on board with baking anything plastic in my cake, so I’d go with the “tuck it in from the bottom after the cake is baked and cooled” method.) I tried to make my babies out of pink gum paste, and I think I can say with great confidence that shaping little babies is not my calling. They didn’t look like babies at all. One looked like a little old man (eeeuw, a NAKED old man) and the other looked like a monkey. Buy them! Or go the old-fashioned route and hide an uncooked bean in the cake instead.

See how the filling is rolled in this version? To do that, leave the nuts out of the cooked praline mixture. Spread it on the dough and sprinkle with the nuts. I just really wanted a core of molten praline goo, so I went with the praline log method.

My second piece of wisdom: don’t expect cake. After a whole lot of Googling I have come to the conclusion that King Cakes are different things to different people, but the majority agree that it is a sugared-up yeast bread baked in a ring shape. Think of a cinnamon roll that wasn’t cut into slices.

I, of course, had to add booze. You don’t have to. I tried Southern Comfort and Bourbon. Each was wonderful. I didn’t use much, just enough to give a hint of flavor. Use a little vanilla instead if you prefer.

Bourbon Praline King Cake
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Author:
Makes 2 King Cakes. Can be baked on baking sheets or in bundt pans.
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup oil (anything lightly flavored, like canola or peanut oil)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 4½ cups flour (either bread flour or all-purpose)
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 1½ cups finely chopped pecans (I use toasted for extra flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or Southern Comfort
  • ICING:
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or Southern Comfort
  • milk
  • Colored sprinkles. You'll need green, dark yellow, and purple
  • 2 plastic babies to hide in cakes!
Instructions
  1. CAKE: In a small pan on medium heat, combine butter, milk, oil, ⅓ cup sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Heat until butter is melted and the mixture is just beginning to bubble around the edge of the pan. Pour into large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a small bowl, combine very warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Allow it to sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add yeast mixture to bowl. Add eggs and 4 cups of flour. If using a stand mixer, use a dough hook and beat well. Slowly add remaining flour until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or drop dough onto generously floured surface and knead by hand for 8 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky, but if it is very sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Place dough in greased bowl and allow it to rise until double. This is a rich dough and may take 1½ hours to rise. While dough is rising, make filling so it will have time to cool and set.
  5. FILLING: In a large pan on medium heat, combined white sugar, brown sugar, cream, butter, and corn syrup. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add chopped nuts. Cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the bourbon. Stir well and set aside to cool. By the time the dough has risen, the filling should be firm.
  7. Divide filling in half and roll each into a 21-inch log on floured parchment.
  8. Prepare pans for the cakes. You can bake rings on parchment covered baking sheets or in lightly greased bundt pans. (I spray my bundt pan with an oil/flour baking spray.)
  9. Punch down dough and divide into two equal parts. Working with one piece at a time, use hands to press into a long rectangle on floured surface. Roll into a 22" by 7" rectangle.
  10. Place one praline log on the long edge and roll. Fold over the ends and pinch firmly. Pinch firmly all along the long seam.
  11. If you are using baking sheets, lift the roll onto the sheet and form a circle. Overlap the ends and pinch well. If you are using bundt pans, drop the dough into the prepared pan. It will be a little long, but overlap the ends, pinch well, and ease the dough around the bottom. It will settle in nicely.
  12. Cover with towels or plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. The rings won't double in size, but they should be light and puffy.
  13. Heat oven to 350 F. Bake until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. The bottom should be a rich brown. Remove from pans to a cooling rack. Tuck a plastic baby in the bottom of each cake. Brush the top with butter, if desired. Once cakes are cool, make icing.
  14. ICING: Place powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add bourbon (or a teaspoon of vanilla) and while beating, trickle in milk until the icing is just thin enough to pour.
  15. Pour over the tops of the cakes, letting the icing drip down the sides. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Once hot m.ilk/spice mixture has cooled a bit, add bubbly yeast

Mix in eggs and flour. Knead well and place dough in greased bowl to rise.

Add pecans to the boiled praline mixture. Cook it some more, then add booze.

Okay. It looks gross. I know, I know. But this praline log will be the center of your King Cake.

Working with half of the dough, press into a long rectangle shape.

Position praline log on long edge.

Roll

Pinch it like you mean it! You don’t want to let any of that praline goodness ooze out.

Make a ring with seam at the bottom. (It can be tricky and twist. You’re the boss!) Overlap ends and PINCH.

Or use a bundt pan. I put the seam down, and of course it showed because the bottom becomes the top. You can try it with the seam up or . . . use lots of icing.

The cake on top was done in a bundt pan. The one on bottom on a baking sheet. The bundt was puffier, but it was probably because I only baked one at a time and it had a little longer rise time.

 

 

Pear Date Walnut Bread

Cutting carbs in the new year? This hearty, rich bread will provide a satisfying excuse for setting your resolutions aside for a few days. (Yes, that makes me an enabler.)
But really, this is a good option if you’re craving bread. Pears, dates, and walnuts are all healthy foods. It’s sweetened with honey, and part of the flour is whole wheat. The trick is just going to be exercising moderation – something I’ve failed miserably at in this case.

I’d like to tell you that I just nibbled on my test pieces, but I’d be lying. Toast this stuff and put a light scraping of butter on it, and I will keep testing and testing and testing.

My favorite version (which is the recipe given below) has a cup of chopped dates and a cup of ground walnuts. If you want to lighten the calorie load, you can reduce both of those ingredients by half.

Give yourself a little extra time when making this bread; the rich dough takes a little longer to rise. It will be worth the wait!

Preparing your ingredients before beginning the bread is a good idea. Chop those dates! Grind those walnuts! But hold up on cutting the pear until your dough is mixing so the pieces won’t go brown on you. 

I added ground walnuts to the recipe to add flavor and structure. A few seconds in a food processor or blender should do it – it doesn’t need to be ground into a paste. The goal is to make the pieces tiny enough to ensure easy slicing of the finished loaves.

NOTE: Unless you have a big family or are making this for a large gathering, I’d recommend freezing one loaf and storing the other in the refrigerator. Since the bread includes fresh fruit, it won’t last as long on the counter as regular bread. 

Pear Date Walnut Bread
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Author:
Makes two loaves.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup coarsely ground walnuts (use a food processor for best results, or chop very fine)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups bread flour divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine honey, butter, eggs, and yeast mixture.
  3. Stir in dates and ground walnuts.
  4. Using a dough hook, add wheat flour, 3½ cups of the bread flour. salt, and cinnamon (if using). Beat well for 4 minutes. (If kneading by hand, add the remaining flour now and knead for 6 minutes before kneading in the pears.)
  5. Add chopped pears and stir until combined. Slowly add remaining flour until mixture comes away from the side of the bowl. Add a little extra flour if necessary. Dough will be soft and sticky.
  6. Place dough into greased bowl. Cover and allow it to rise until double, 1 to 1½ hours.
  7. Punch down dough and divide in half. On floured surface either roll dough into two balls and place on baking sheet, or form into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
  8. Allow dough to rise in pans until almost doubled.
  9. Heat oven to 375 F.
  10. Bake approximately 35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped. Brush the tops with butter if desired. Cool on racks before cutting.

Ingredients.

Grind the walnuts if possible. If not, chop them as finely as you can. They’ll add lots of flavor.

Combine honey, egg, butter, and yeast mixture.

Mix in the dates and walnuts

Add most of the dry ingredients and mix (knead) for 4 minutes by machine. Add pears. Slowly add remaining flour until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

After the dough rises, form into two balls on a baking sheet, or . . .

. . . form loaves and place in greased pans. Bake.

Enjoy!

Oh, my word, this is good toasted. Tomorrow I’m going to use it for French Toast; I’ll bet it’ll be amazing. We’re expecting snow, and I can’t think of a better treat to go with  sausage patties and a cup of steaming coffee. 

Lorinda