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.
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)
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.)
Heat tomato juice and butter together on low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to lukewarm.
In a small bowl combine warm water , sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
Put lukewarm tomato mixture into a large bowl. (A stand mixer with dough hook is recommended.)
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.
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.
Once risen, form into a loaf and place in prepared bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 45 minutes.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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.
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.
FILLING: Combine softened butter, olive oil, pressed garlic, and salt. Mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon for brushing over knots.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Bun recipe makes 8 Burger recipe makes 6. Don't complain - just eat the extra buns!
1 cup very warm water
1 package active-dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
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)
1 cup water
¼ cup baking soda
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!
BUNS: Prepare two large baking sheets by covering in parchment, or by greasing lightly.
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.
Add egg, milk powder, and oil. Mix well.
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).
Mix in the grated cheese.
Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about an hour.
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.
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.
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.
Heat oven to 375 F.
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.
In a medium bowl, combine burger, ketchup, sweet onion, vinegar, and pepper. Divide into 12 equal portions.
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.
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.
Construct your burger, adding whatever vegetables or condiments you like.
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.
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.
Start this project in the morning. The bread is very slow to rise! Makes two tall loaves or three shorter loaves.
1 cup very warm milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 packages active-dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
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
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
Milk to thin the frosting if necessary
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.
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.
While the sponge is rising, combine the raisins, dried fruit, and alcohol (or orange juice) in a small bowl. Cover.
When the sponge has risen (expect to see pockets of flour) add the eggs and egg yolks to the sponge and mix well.
Add sugar and mix well.
Add the melted butter gradually, until completely incorporated.Switch to a dough hook if you're using a stand mixer.
Add the orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and 2 cups flour. Mix well.
Gradually add remaining cup of flour.
Drain alcohol from raisins. (Don't waste it - it's wonderful in coffee!) Add drained raisins and candied citrus to dough.
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.
Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take several hours.
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.
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!
Heat oven to 350 F.
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.
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.
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.
Makes 2 King Cakes. Can be baked on baking sheets or in bundt pans.
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)
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
1 pound powdered sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon or Southern Comfort
Colored sprinkles. You'll need green, dark yellow, and purple
2 plastic babies to hide in cakes!
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.
In a small bowl, combine very warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Allow it to sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Divide filling in half and roll each into a 21-inch log on floured parchment.
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.)
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.
Place one praline log on the long edge and roll. Fold over the ends and pinch firmly. Pinch firmly all along the long seam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pour over the tops of the cakes, letting the icing drip down the sides. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
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.
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
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).
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine honey, butter, eggs, and yeast mixture.
Stir in dates and ground walnuts.
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.)
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.
Place dough into greased bowl. Cover and allow it to rise until double, 1 to 1½ hours.
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.
Allow dough to rise in pans until almost doubled.
Heat oven to 375 F.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing beats an English muffin broiled to a crispy, golden brown and slathered with butter. Well, except for a maple-flavored English muffin! Raisins add a pop of flavor, and the fragrance of maple and cinnamon will make your mouth water long before the muffin hits your plate.
It took me a few tries before I got this right, but it was worth the effort. And now I have a huge bag of perfectly acceptable test muffins in the freezer, which will come in handy this winter.
I tried different types of flour (which made very little difference), muffin rings (meh – not necessary), and different rise times (this really mattered). I also tried many methods of shaping and cooking these babies, and here’s what I learned:
You know those lovely little holes inside where the butter pools up? You get those by using a very soft dough and a long rise. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear me tell you to let the dough rise until it blows up and caves in. If you don’t want to let the dough rise overnight, at least give it 4 hours. This will add flavor, too.
All maple flavoring is not the same. And in my opinion, none that I have tried is potent enough. I used a tablespoon of Mapleine in this recipe and it still was just barely maple flavored. (That’s why I added flavor to the cornmeal/farina too.) I’ve just ordered a couple of interesting brands of maple flavor that are supposed to be really strong. I’ll do a taste test and let you know. Until then, be generous!
If you want to skip the rolling/patting/cutting step, you can use an ice cream scoop and drop the dough right on the cooking surface and pat it into shape. BUT there is a general lack of uniformity. If you can live with that, go the easy route! I just can’t. I like it when everything is the same size and shape. OCD much?
These need to be cooked low and slow. Otherwise, the outside of the muffin will be dark before the inside is cooked, and no one likes a gooey center. I used an electric skillet set between 250 and 275 F. Since the muffins wouldn’t all fit on my skillet, I also used a cast iron skillet at medium-low heat. Both worked very well. You will have to adjust the temperature as you go because electric skillets aren’t very accurate. Shoot for 7 minutes on each side to get the color you want, and then turn the heat down and let them go another 3 minutes or so on each side. It’s not that hard – but it may take a little practice. Then you, too, will have a stash of muffins in your freezer.
If it looks like the outside is done but the sides still feel squishy, you can cover the muffins with foil or a lid and cook a little longer at low heat; this will act like an oven. And, if all else fails, pop them in the oven at 350 F for a few minutes. I haven’t had to do this, but it’s perfectly acceptable. The Traditional English Muffin Police will not be visiting to chastise you. Honest.
As hard as it may be, wait for the muffins to cool completely before separating them. And don’t use a knife. This thingamajig that I bought to help me slice onions without cutting off my fingertips? It works really well.
This works really well, but then – so does a fork. (Put that knife DOWN!)
So does a fork. Or you can just tear the muffin open with your fingers and go with the rustic look.
Makes twelve 3½-inch muffins For best results, make the dough at night and let it rise on the counter. Shape and bake in the morning!
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup (use Grade B if you can find it; it's more flavorful)
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup raisins
½ cup very warm water
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon maple flavor (This will be mild. Double the amount for a rich maple flavor)
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal (Or try farina. I use Malt-O-Meal)
¼ teaspoon maple flavor (optional) to mix with cornmeal
a small amount of butter
In a small pan over medium heat, cook the milk, syrup, salt, and cinnamon until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Don't boil!
Remove from heat. Add butter and raisins, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and the temperature is comfortably warm.
In a small bowl or cup, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is recommended) fit with a dough hook, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and maple flavor.
Add flour and beat for 3 minutes
Scoop dough into a large greased bowl. Use a rubber spatula to turn the dough over so that all sides are greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit on the counter overnight.
Combine cornmeal (or farina) and maple flavor, if using. Sprinkle on a lightly buttered electric griddle(or cast iron skillets).
Generously flour a piece of parchment and drop the dough in the middle. Sprinkle with flour and pat with your hand until it is approximately ⅓ to1/2-inch thick.
Using 3½-inch round cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Lift each one with a spatula and place on prepared skillet. Press each round firmly with the palm of your hand. Gather the dough scraps and press to cut remaining circles.
Cover lightly with a clean towel and let the muffins sit on the unheated griddle for 30 minutes.
Remove cover and turn the heat on. An electric skillet should be turned between 250 and 275 F. A cast iron skillet on the stove should be turned to medium-low. Adjust as needed; it's better to cook too slowly than too fast. If heat is too high the outsides will be dark but the center will be doughy. At 7 minutes, the muffin should be golden brown and ready to turn.
When the bottom is brown, use a thin spatula to flip the muffins over. Cook on that side until brown.
Turn the heat down and flip the muffins over one more time, for about 3 minutes on each side.
Allow the muffins to cool completely before using a fork to split. Toast under a broiler for best results.
Dinner doughnuts! That’s what my husband dubbed these after one blissful bite. This simple fried bread has a garlic butter and parmesan center that is flavorful but not overwhelming. It soaks into the bread a bit as it fries so you aren’t faced with butter dripping down your chin. (Never a good thing.)
I’m all about texture, preferring my bread crispy and crackly, but the chewy crust on these puffy rolls was delightful, contrasting nicely with the soft, buttery bread inside. I considered adding chopped pepperoni to the filling, but . . . well . . . I didn’t have any. Garlic, however, is something I have lots and lots of, so I made the most of it. Next time I may try the pepperoni, or maybe some sun-dried tomatoes.
I’m not going to lie to you here; these are probably not on anyone’s diet. That’s all I’m going to say about that!
I use a potsticker press because it seals the dough nicely and makes it easy to work with. Keep it lightly floured for best results. (You can buy these online for just a few dollars, and they come in hand for all kinds of recipes.) If you don’t have one, just fold the circle over on the filling and press the edge firmly with a fork. Looks really don’t matter, because they’re just going to puff up into potato-like shapes. Who cares, when they taste the way they do?
Once fried you can leave them as they are, or you can brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with coarse salt and a little cheese. I waited too long to do this and my cheese wasn’t very cooperative, defiantly refusing to melt. A few seconds under the broiler took care of that. Hah!
In my usual “go big or go home” approach, this recipe makes a whopping 24 rolls. The recipe can easily be cut in half, or you can freeze some for another time. (I vote for just eating them hand over fist.) Besides, if you’re going to go to the trouble to deep fry, you might as well go for the gusto.
They’re also good the next day, especially if you warm them up a little.
½ cup salted butter, softened (if using unsalted, add an additional ¼ t.salt)
1 generous tablespoon (3-4 cloves) garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (more to taste)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
5 cups bread flour (more for dusting work surface)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
oil for frying (I use peanut oil, but canola or safflower are also good options.)
melted butter and grated cheese if desired to top hot rolls
In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook is best) combine water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over it and let it sit for 5 minutes. (It won't foam a lot, but as long as your yeast is fresh, it will do its job.)
Add flour and beat until well-combined.
Add olive oil. Continue to knead by machine for 5 minutes, or drop dough onto floured surface and knead by hand for 7-8 minutes. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Cover and allow the bread to rise for 1 hour.
Working with half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured board ¼-inch thick. Cut with a large round cutter - about 3½ inches across. Place 1 generous teaspoon of garlic mixture on each round of dough and press in half, using a lightly floured potsticker press (or fold the dough over the mixture and press firmly around the edge with a fork).
Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375 F. Fry a few at a time, turning once, until rich golden brown - just a few minutes. Place between sheets of paper towel to absorb extra oil.
Brush hot rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt and shredded cheese if desired.
If you’re feeding a crowd and want an easy way to serve burgers, here’s a great recipe for you! Two huge burgers, sliced like a pie, will yield twelve portions. The buns can be made a day or two ahead (or you can get them done really early and freeze them) so all you’ll need to do is cook those mammoth burgers and slice some veggies. Sweet, huh? You could even cook the burgers ahead and freeze them too; they’d be easy to warm up in the oven.
The Man thought this one up, of course. He’s the burger fan around here. Of course, he thought that each should be sliced into four pieces, not six, but he lost that battle. You know what’s really neat about this idea? The pieces are much easier to eat than a regular burger.
My apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot for messing with his lyrics. Since we went to the same high school (he was a few years behind me) I know he’d be okay with this. (Okay, okay. Eight years. He’s eight years younger. Are you happy now? Sheesh.) Go, Roughriders!
I used a 10-inch cast iron round griddle for one of the buns and an 11-inch tart pan for the other. Cake pans would work fine too, but I wanted something with low sides so the buns would brown all the way down. Both worked like a charm. In a pinch, just lay your round dough on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
¼ cup oil (I used peanut oil, but any mild-flavored cooking oil will work)
2 eggs, divided
Lightly grease two 10-11 inch round pans. Sprinkle with cornmeal if desired. (You may also use parchment instead of the grease.)
Put 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. (A sturdy stand mixer with a paddle attachment is best.)
In a small pot, heat the water, milk, sugar, and oil until very warm - 120-130 degrees. Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture, add one egg and one yolk (reserve the egg white for later) and beat until smooth.
Switch to a dough hook and add enough remaining flour fto make the dough come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Slightly sticky is good. Knead by machine for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.
Place dough on floured surface, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
Divide dough into two equal parts. Working with one at a time, flatten with your hand, then roll out into a 9-inch circle. Place in prepared pan and pat firmly to make sure it's evenly thick. Press around the outside edge to make it slope down to the pan (creating more of a dome shape).
Cover with a towel and let the buns rise for 45 minutes. They won't double in size but will be puffy.
Heat oven to 400 F.
Add 1 teaspoon water to the egg white and whisk until foamy. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake buns for 15 minutes, or until the tops are rich, golden brown. Remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks for 5-10 minutes. Lift buns onto racks to continue cooling.
Slice in half horizontally and fill as desired. (Note: if using the same size pans to cook burgers, use extra-lean meat to avoid shrinkage.)
“Put de lime in de coconut” and treat yourself to a slice of this sweet (yet tangy), dense (yet moist) quick bread. An easy-to-make poured fondant icing crowns the bread with a fudge-like lime topping, a pleasure to bite into. Coconut cream and shredded coconut add unique flavor and texture to this bread.
Don’t expect cake, my friends. The line between cake and quick bread can be a little fuzzy, I know, but this is definitely bread. I had to keep talking myself out of adding beaten egg whites, cake flour, more leavening. If I want lime cake, I’ll make a lime cake! What I was looking for was a bread that would slice nicely for a spring tea luncheon my Homemakers’ Club is having next month, and this is definitely it.
You know by now that I rarely create easy recipes, preferring to fuss with my food. But this is sooooo easy. The hardest thing you will have to do is juice and zest the limes. I finally broke down and bought a little hand juicer (up ’til now I’ve heroically squeezed citrus by hand, wedge by wedge) which made it go much faster, so you may see more lemon and lime recipes from me in the near future.
Do not overmix. It’s okay to see small streaks of flour in the batter when it’s being spread in the pan. Too much stirring makes a heavier loaf and can create tunnels.
If you can’t find coconut cream, substitute coconut milk or regular milk. (Use 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons.)
Be patient! Don’t cut that loaf until it’s completely cooled. In fact, it slices beautifully if you wrap the cool, iced bread in foil and refrigerate it overnight. Besides, the texture and flavor are always better on the second day.
I haven’t tried this (yet) but I’ll bet this bread would be killer with chopped macadamia nuts.
I use a grater for lime zest because I like to see the flecks in the bread. A microplane will work well, too, but it won’t be quite as pretty.
1 can (5.2 ounces) coconut cream (or use ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
green food coloring (optional)
⅔ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons water
2 oz white chocolate (about 22 Wilton candy melts . . . or ⅓ cup)
Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare one 9x5" loaf pan by lining with a piece of parchment (let paper come over the sides so you can lift the bread out easily) and spraying with non-stick spray.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Set aside.
With a fine grater, zest the limes, being careful to just grate off the dark green skin, not the white underneath. Juice the limes. You will need ¼ cup of juice for the bread and 1 tablespoon for the icing. If you don't have quite enough juice, add a little water.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well, scraping the side of the bowl often.
Add the coconut cream, vanilla, and just a tiny amount of green food coloring (if using). Mix until combined.
Add the coconut and dry ingredients. Stir gently just until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix!
Spoon into prepared loaf pan and gently smooth the top. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift loaf out and let it cool completely.
ICING: (This can be poured on warm bread.)
In a small pan heat the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lime juice, and water until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. Once melted, stir until it cools and thickens a little, then pour over the bread, allowing icing to drip down the sides of the loaf.
Let icing harden and serve or store. (This bread is even better the next day.)