Hot Cross Mini Buns

 

About the size of a large doughnut hole, though not as sweet, these miniature hot cross buns will look great in a basket on your Easter table. The dough is filled with raisins or currants, spices, and saffron (if you choose to add it). The taste can be a surprise, because our eyes see the icing design on top and our brain assumes that the buns themselves will be sugary, like cinnamon rolls . . . or doughnuts. They aren’t. The bread is like a slightly sweet dinner roll, though those little bits of fruit inside do add a sweet surprise with each bite.

With regular hot cross buns there’s a higher bread-to-icing ratio, so I usually slather mine with butter or jam, but these little ones don’t need to be gussied up like that. Just two bites (unless you’re my husband, in which case, they are popped into his mouth whole) and you’re reaching for the next one. See? You’ve just saved all of those pesky butter and jam calories, so you can eat more mini buns!

A few years ago I made hot cross buns for a Yummy Northwest Easter column, using a very old and challenging recipe. It was an experience. If you’d like to see what happens when I have kitchen fail after kitchen fail, by all means go read the archived article: Old Fashioned Easter. Scroll down; the link to the recipe is right under the photo of Hot Cross Buns.

HINTS:

  • I added saffron to this recipe because it’s a traditional spice used to symbolize something or other (sunshine, spring, happy stuff) and because I happened to have a bottle of it languishing in the pantry. If you have some, add a few strands – but don’t overdo it, because the sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg should predominate.
  • You don’t have to mark the tops of the raised buns. You can just bake them as they are and use the icing alone to create the crosses. If you want to cut the design in the top before baking, make sure you use a very sharp blade so the puffy little buns don’t get smooshed.
  • If you like lots of fruit in your rolls, add more raisins or throw in a handful of chopped apricots or dried cherries.

 

Hot Cross Mini Buns
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Makes 60 mini buns Hot cross buns are slightly sweet and lightly spiced. Saffron is a traditional addition, but the buns are delicious without it, too.
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • small pinch saffron - OPTIONAL!
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup butter, cut into large chunks
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 4½ cups bread flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • GLAZE:
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons water (or use fresh lemon juice for some "zing")
Instructions
  1. In small saucepan, heat milk and saffron (if using it) until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and, using a strainer if you added saffron, pour into a large bowl. A stand mixer is best. Add raisins, butter, and ¼ cup sugar, stirring briefly. Butter will soften, but don't worry if it isn't completely melted.
  2. In a small bowl, combine warm water with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and allow mixture to sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
  3. Add yeast mixture, egg, and spices to the milk mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Add flour and salt. Switch to dough hook if using a stand mixer, and knead by machine for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, drop dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 minutes. Dough should be soft but not sticky.
  5. Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double, about 1 hour.
  6. On lightly floured surface, punch down dough. Divide into 60 equal pieces and roll into balls. The easiest way to do this is to work on an unfloured surface. Form a ball by bringing the sides to the top, like an Asian dumpling, and then turning the ball over and pulling it towards you, scooching it along the surface.
  7. Place balls at least ½-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets, cover, and allow to rise until almost double, about 1 hour.
  8. Heat oven to 375 F
  9. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, pinch of salt, and water (or lemon juice) in a small bowl. Mix well. (Hint: for a firmer icing, add ½ teaspoon meringue powder.) Remove 2 tablespoons of icing and place in a small cup. Add water to the small cup a few drops at a time until it is a very thin consistency. This will be brushed over hot rolls to add a thin, shiny coating. Place remaining icing in a heavy plastic bag with one tip cut off, or in a pastry bag with small writing tip.
  10. With a very sharp knife or razor blade, cut a cross shape on top of each bun, if desired. Bake mini buns for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops are rich golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with a light layer of the thinned glaze. Allow to cool on a rack.
  11. Pipe a cross on each bun with icing (fill in the design if you cut the buns before baking) and allow to dry thoroughly before storing.

Add a small pinch of saffron to milk if desired. (I may have gone a little crazy here. Don’t use quite that much unless you love the taste of saffron!)

Heat milk until bubbles appear all around the edge of the pan. (Don’t forget to strain out the saffron.)

Isn’t this beautiful, soft dough?

Cut dough into 60 equal pieces. (Mrs. OCD here can tell you that I had 60 20-gram balls of dough. Yes, I weighed them. No, you don’t have to.)

Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet to rise.

After balls rise, cut an X in them with a very sharp knife or razor blade if desired. (Or you can skip this step and just make the X with the icing after they’re baked.)

Brush with thin glaze while hot, and then pipe on the cross after they cool.

They don’t have to be for Easter, of course. Skip the icing and split these little sweethearts in half. Spread with lemon curd, honey butter, or flavored cream cheese for a luncheon or party. And . . . hide a few for yourself!

Lorinda

Guinness Bread Braids – Sweet or Savory

I went all Irish on you with this bread. It has both Guinness Stout beer AND potato in the dough. You won’t even taste the beer, but what a pillowy-soft dough it helped create. I made a savory Celtic braid by adding some Parmesan and garlic to the dough, and turned another batch into a braided cinnamon and sugar ring.

Both were light – surprisingly light – and tender. I will say, however, that this is a bread that is best eaten the day it’s made. On day two it was just a tiny bit chewy, though if it had been heated a little, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. This almost made me wish I hadn’t deep-sixed the microwave. (A pat of butter and a few seconds in a microwave will revive any cinnamon roll . . . or braid.)

Guinness Bread Braids - Sweet and Savory
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Makes two Celtic braids or one braided cinnamon ring.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups very warm water
  • 3½ teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ cup Guinness Extra Stout beer
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup dry instant potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if your instant potatoes contain salt)
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • VARIATIONS:
  • For Celtic Braid: ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, if desired. 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water combined for egg wash.
  • For Cinnamon Ring: 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ⅓ cup sugar, green candied cherries. Icing if desired.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine warm water and ½ teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and allow mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat, heat the beer and 1 tablespoon butter until beer is lukewarm. (It’s okay if the butter hasn’t melted completely.)
  3. To the yeast mixture, add warm beer mixture, instant potatoes, salt, flour, and 3 teaspoons sugar. (IF MAKING SAVORY BREAD, ADD PARMESAN AND GARLIC.) Mix well. If using a heavy stand mixer, let the mixer knead the dough for 5 minutes. (If kneading by hand, knead on generously floured surface for 7-8 minutes.) Dough will be very soft, slightly sticky, and may stick to the sides of the bowl a little. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. FOR CELTIC BRAID: Cover large baking sheet with parchment. Punch down dough and divide dough into 4 pieces. (If dough is too sticky to work with, knead it a few times on a generously floured surface.) Working with 2 pieces at a time, roll each piece into a rope about 2 feet long. Follow photo instructions in post for making braid (or find a template online). Repeat with remaining 2 pieces. Place braids on prepared baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Cover loosely with towel, and allow to rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  5. Heat oven to 375 F. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Cool on rack.
  6. FOR CINNAMON RING: Prepare two large baking sheets by covering with parchment. (One will be used to coat the bread ropes in butter and cinnamon, and the other will be used to bake the braid.)
  7. Punch down dough and divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll into ropes, each approximately 24 inches long.
  8. Melt butter and pour onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Combine cinnamon and ⅓ cup sugar in a small bowl.
  9. Roll ropes of dough in the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, rolling until completely coated.
  10. Pinch the three ropes together at the top. Lift onto clean baking sheet and braid. Tuck the ends under and pinch together where the ends meet.
  11. Cover braid loosely with clean towel and allow it to rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour. Decorate with green candied cherries, if desired.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F. and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Place baking sheet on cooling rack for 5 minutes, then slide braid and parchment onto rack to cool completely.
  13. Drizzle with icing if desired. To make a simple icing, combine ½ cup powdered sugar, 1-2 drops green food coloring, and 1 tablespoon milk or water.

Dough will be sticky. Don’t add extra flour yet – you can always work in a little more once it’s risen if necessary.

Rises like a champ! Wait ’til you feel this dough – it’s billowy and soft as a baby’s cheek.

Roll dough around in the flour. If it’s really sticky, knead it a few times to add a bit more flour and make it manageable.

Start by crossing the two ropes at the middle, like an “X”.

And then do this . . .

. . . then this.

It should finally look something like this.

Brush the braid with egg wash and bake!

If you’re making the cinnamon ring, it’s a little easier – just a simple braid:

For the cinnamon braid, begin with three long dough ropes.

Roll them in melted butter, then coat them with cinnamon and sugar.

Braid the sticky ropes on a clean piece of parchment. Tuck the ends under and pinch together to make a ring.

Risen and ready for the oven.

Warm and fragrant.

Oh, and if you want to go with the whole green thing, drizzle this puppy with some green icing. 

Serving it was kind of interesting. You can cut it in slices (the least messy option) or you can do what we did and just rip and tear. Licking your fingers is half the fun – no fork and knife for this gal.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Lorinda

Guinness Cloverleaf Rolls

They may not be green, but these dinner rolls are exactly what you need for your St. Patrick’s Day meal. Made with Guinness, Irish butter, and oats, their flavor is rich and hearty, and they have a fantastic texture. Soft but substantial – which is what they’ll be calling me if I keep testing my creations!

And believe it or not, the rolls are super easy to make. (See the recipe below? See how short it is? I think this is a personal record.) I made three batches of dough in less than forty minutes, but I admit that flour was flying. My mixer is a real workhorse, thank goodness. For the sake of full disclosure, I also have to mention that each batch uses one cup of beer, so there’s a little left in the bottle. By making 3 batches back to back, I got to have a full bottle of Guinness as I worked. Sweeeeet.

Dividing the dough into 36 equal parts and rolling them into balls is the only thing that will take a little time, but there’s nothing hard about it. I wanted mine to be similar in size, so I weighed the dough, did the math, and (in case you’re wondering) each ball was approximately 1 1/2 ounces, or 45 grams. Just sayin’. You don’t have to do this unless you plan to take photos and put them on a blog!

I used Irish butter because I love it and it seemed appropriate. It’s a little pricey for baking, but hey – St. Patrick’s Day only comes once a year. Splurge a little; it really does have wonderful flavor.

You’ll smell the beer as the rolls are baking. I’ve got to say, it made me a wee bit nervous; it smelled like a distillery in my kitchen. But the rolls didn’t taste like beer at all to me. If anything, the Guinness gives them sort of a whole wheat taste, and I’m good with that. Yum.

The only warning I’m going to give you is this: keep an eye on the bread as it’s rising! Mine only took about 45 minutes for the first rise and once the rolls were formed, it took less than an hour for them to be ready for the oven. They are very enthusiastic.

Guinness Cloverleaf Rolls
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Makes 12 jumbo or 24 standard rolls.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup Guinness Extra Stout Beer
  • 5½ -6 cups white bread flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, combine ½ cup very warm water and sugar. Add yeast and set aside to proof.
  2. In small saucepan, bring milk and water to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  3. Add butter, molasses and beer. When butter is melted, place mixture in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook.
  4. Add 5½ cups flour, the quick oats, and salt. Mix on low for 3 minutes. If dough isn’t coming cleanly away from the side of the bowl, or if dough feels very sticky, add the remaining ½ cup flour. Knead for 3 minutes. (If kneading by hand, place on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.)
  5. Place in large greased bowl, turn to coat the dough, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and all the dough to rise until doubled – about 1 hour. May be less, depending on the temperature of the room.
  6. Grease jumbo muffin pans and divide the dough into 36 equal pieces. (For small rolls, grease standard muffin pans and divide dough into 72 equal pieces.)
  7. Allow rolls to rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Heat oven to 400 F.
  9. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until tops are rich golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and brush tops with butter. Turn out of pan and serve warm, or allow rolls to cool completely on rack.

Stir butter and molasses into the hot milk mixture and then add beer.

Add the foamy yeast to the warm liquids, then add dry ingredients.

This is where you knead the dough, of course. I use my stand mixer and a dough hook.

Put dough into greased bowl. Turn it over to lightly coat.

This dough rises quickly!

Put 3 balls of dough in each cavity of muffin pan

Let 'em rise.

Let ’em rise. Bake!

Brush hot rolls with butter

. . . and enjoy!

Oh, and you might want to keep this recipe around, because it will make two wonderful loaves of bread if you’d rather not fuss with rolls. It slices perfectly, doesn’t crumble, and makes great sandwiches and toast.Three bottles of beer left. Hmm. More bread? I don’t think so. Sláinte!

Lorinda

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread

pumpkin-sourdough-bread-the-rowdy-bakerTangy sourdough combines with rich pumpkin puree to flavor this bread to perfection. The fragrant loaves are a reminder that there’s a chill in the air and comfort food is beckoning…a harbinger of the coming holidays.

A turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich on sourdough pumpkin bread? French toast with pure maple syrup? Crackly, chewy rolls with soft interiors? Yes, PLEASE!

Sourdough starter is always hanging out in my refrigerator…unless I’ve killed it. Sourdough and houseplants are at risk in my household. I either smother them with attention or forget about them until it’s too late to rectify the situation.

Which is why I keep dried sourdough in my freezer; it’s a backup plan that has come in very handy.

If you don’t have sourdough starter, there are several options:

    • Start your own. I had a tough time with this in the past, but the method I used this time was easier than I expected. Maybe I just got lucky and caught the right yeast, but it was pretty painless.
    • Beg some off of a friend. I’ve done this too, but if I kill the starter I feel really guilty (sorry, Laurie!) so I tend to muddle through by myself.
    • Send away for some that is a strain from the 1800s…absolutely free. You just need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (and I encourage a small donation). I love the idea of having starter with a pedigree! Go here for more information: Carl’s Friends.

For more information about creating your own sourdough starter, drying and freezing it, and instructions for feeding it—plus a few fun recipes—click on this link to a Yummy Northwest column I wrote: From Starter to Finish.

At least once a week I remove some of my starter (replacing it with flour and water, of course) and mix up a “sponge” – a batter that sits all night and is ready for action the next morning. I use 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in the sponge, but if you’re a purist you can skip the yeast entirely. Just be aware that you will be at the whim of your dough; it will rise when it damn well pleases! I get a little insurance by using that tiny bit of added yeast.

Since you won’t know exactly how long your bread will take to rise, I strongly recommend starting your sponge the night before and mixing your dough the next day.

Sourdough sponge - it's ALIVE!

Sourdough sponge – it’s ALIVE!

It’s usually just a matter of adding some water, salt, and flour to get a lovely, crusty loaf of dough – but for this recipe I also added 15-ounces of canned pumpkin puree. (Be careful, don’t use the kind that’s premixed for pies. Grab the solid-pack pumpkin.) I also added a little less water and a little more flour to offset the moisture in the pumpkin.

Note: For a milder flavor, decrease the pumpkin to 1 cup and increase the warm water to 1 cup in the bread recipe.

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread
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Makes two loaves
Ingredients
  • SPONGE:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2½ cups unbleached flour
  • 1½ cups water, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast (optional)
  • ****
  • BREAD
  • The bubbly sponge
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 6 - 6½ cups bread flour
Instructions
  1. Night before: Create the sponge by combining all of the sponge ingredients and beating well with a wooden spoon. Cover and allow the sponge to sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. Bread: in a large bowl (a stand mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine the bubbly sponge, pumpkin, water, salt, and 6 cups of bread flour. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on floured surface for 7-8 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and be just slightly tacky. If dough is too soft, add additional flour a little at a time.
  3. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled. If you used a little yeast in the sponge, this will take between 1 - 2 hours. If you skipped the yeast, it could take much longer. Be patient and let the bread do its thing. The longer it takes to rise, the more flavorful the bread will be.
  4. When dough has doubled, punch it down on a lightly floured surface and shape it into loaves. Place in lightly greased loaf pans or form into balls and place on baking sheets with a little cornmeal sprinkled on them. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled. With a sharp knife or razor, cut several shallow diagonal slashes in the loaves (or an "X" on round loaves).
  5. Heat oven to 425 F. For the crispiest crust, place a pan of water on the bottom of the rack while the oven is heating. Be very careful when you open the door - there will be lots of steam. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to spray the loaves and the inside of the oven when you put the pans in to bake.
  6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until loaves are rich golden brown. For a shiny crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on racks.

 

Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Make those loaves whatever shape you want!

Make those loaves whatever shape you want! Let ’em rise, and bake. For crispy, crackly crusts, use steam!

pumpkin-sourdough-bread-from-the-rowdy-baker

I’m a sourdough fiend. Can’t resist a piece (or two) of toasted sourdough with a little peanut butter.toast-with-pb

Once you have an active starter, making sourdough bread is a cinch! My goal is to make as little mess as possible, so I mix my sponge right in the mixer bowl, then just dump the remaining ingredients in the next day. I don’t turn it out into a greased bowl to rise – just cover the mixing bowl. It seriously takes 15 minutes of effort to make a couple of loaves. You just have to time it for when you’ll be hanging around the house.

My guess is, with the scent of sourdough wafting through the air, everyone will be hanging around the house. Get the butter ready!

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

Raised Gingerbread Loaf

raised-gingerbread-loaf-from-the-rowdy-bakerThis is definitely not your Grandma’s gingerbread! It’s a tender, rich yeast bread with the fragrance and flavor of spicy gingerbread…just not as sweet. (Don’t expect cake.)

And oh, my, does it toast well! When I took my first bite of a toasted slice, I immediately thought of cinnamon raisin bread, with a delectable hint of Boston brown bread. I love them both, so I was very pleased with the outcome.raised-gingerbread-loaf-toasted-the-rowdy-baker

I sure hope you like raisins, because they really make this bread special. Since the dough isn’t overly sweet, those little sugary bits of raisins add interest to the finished loaf. You could successfully substitute any chopped, dried fruit though, for a similar effect.

Can you imagine the French toast it made? C’est délicieux!gingerbread-french-toast

The recipe makes two loaves of bread, or you can make one loaf and turn the other half of the dough into Gingerbread Sticks! Half of the dough will make 20 long sticks or 40 short ones. You may want to go for the short variety for two reasons: They are fairly soft (especially the next day), so the short ones are sturdier. And, if you offer my Orange Cream Cheese Dip with the long sticks, you’re going to get the dreaded double-dipping!

gingerbreadsticks-from-the-rowdy-baker

So. Warm slices slathered in butter, toast (my personal favorite), French toast, or Gingerbreadsticks. Pretty versatile! I don’t think it would be your go-to bread for a ham and cheese sandwich, but still…lots of good reasons to make a batch.

Raised Gingerbread Loaf
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Makes two loaves or one loaf and 20 long (or 40 short) Gingerbreadsticks.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • ⅔ cup molasses
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 6+ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, scald the milk. (Heat just until it gets bubbly all around the edge.) Remove from heat and whisk in the molasses, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and brown sugar.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, stir in the buttermilk. Allow mixture to cool until lukewarm.
  3. In a small bowl combine ½ teaspoon sugar and warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the lukewarm molasses mixture and yeast mixture. Add eggs and combine.
  5. Using a dough hook (or sturdy wooden spoon if beating by hand) stir in 6 cups of the flour and beat for 3 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Add raisins. Slowly add flour as necessary, a couple of tablespoons at a time, just until dough comes cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine or by hand for 2 additional minutes.
  6. Dough will be sticky; it will be more manageable after it has risen. Dump dough into well greased bowl, tossing to cover surface. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until double. THIS WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL, because the dough is so sweet and rich. It can take up to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
  7. Punch dough down. Divide into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place in well greased (or spray the pans with Baker's Joy) loaf pans. Cover with towel and let rise again until almost doubled.
  8. Heat oven to 375 F. When preheated, cut a shallow slice along the top of each loaf and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven, brush the top of each loaf with butter for a pretty shine, and turn out onto a cooling rack.
  9. To make Gingerbreadsticks, roll ½ of the dough out to approximately 12-inches by 18-inches. Cut into 20 long strips. If you'd like shorter sticks (they're easier to handle) cut down the middle for 40 short strips. Place on parchment or slightly greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour. They won't double in size, but should be light and puffy. Brush with an egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 12-14 minutes.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Add flour. Not too much - this should be a sticky dough!

Add flour. Not too much – this should be a sticky dough!

It's a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

It’s a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

Form loaves.

Form loaves, let them rise (it can take up to 2 hours for a sweet dough like this) and bake.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

I like to dip the Gingerbreadsticks in whipped cream, but for a little more flavor, make this easy Orange Cream Cheese Dip:  Beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons concentrated orange juice. When smooth and creamy, gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar. Dip away!

Wait until you smell this dough baking! Mmmmmm.

Lorinda

 

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread

Easy Cheesy Olive BreadMy love for olives has evolved over the years. When I was young, black olives were served for holidays or with company meals. Mom knew enough to have several cans chilling in the fridge, because each of us girls needed ten…one for each finger, of course.

Green olives, and their little red pimientos, were gross. Something my folks had on a toothpick (along with a slimy little onion) in their martinis. Eeeeuw.

Many, many years passed before I discovered Kalamata olives and fell madly in love. Then, at a book club meeting (I believe wine was involved, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried them) I ate an embarrassing number of giant green olives, stuffed with garlic and jalapeños. Oh.My.

Today I put all of these olives, along with some sharp cheddar cheese, into a rustic, round, crispy loaf of bread. The dough is simple and basic; there are just a few extra steps to take to add the cheese and olives. It was super easy, and better than I had dared to hope. This will be a serious staple around here from now on!olives!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread
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Makes one round loaf. You may want to double this recipe - seriously!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3½ - 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp Cheddar. Italian cheeses would be good, too.)
  • 1 cup chopped olives, pressed firmly in paper towels to remove excess moisture
  • Cornmeal
Instructions
  1. Prepare baking sheet by sprinkling the center lightly with cornmeal.
  2. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of the warm water with sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook, if you have it) combine the remaining warm water, yeast mixture, olive oil, garlic salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix together for 1 minute.
  4. Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes.
  5. Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a rough ball, turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface, cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  6. Move to a lightly floured surface. Flatten dough and roll out to a rectangle approximately 14-inches by 9-inches, with the long side facing you. It should only take a few swipes with the rolling pin.
  7. Place half of the grated cheese in the center third of the rectangle. Cover with half of the olive mixture. Fold the right side of the dough over the cheese and olives.
  8. Place the remaining cheese and olives over the top (the left third of the dough will still be bare). Fold the left side over to cover the cheese and olives. Pinch all around to seal.
  9. Gently roll again - not quite as large, about 12-inches by 7-inches with the long side facing you. Again fold the right side over the center third, and then the left side over the right side. Pinch edges and form into a ball by gently bringing dough up to meet in the middle, pinching to close. Turn the dough over so the pinched center is on the bottom.
  10. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise until almost doubled - about 40 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, place a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and add several cups of water. Preheat oven to 450, giving the oven plenty of time to develop some steam before the bread has risen.
  12. Cut an "X" in the top of the loaf with a razor or sharp knife, and carefully (that steam will be HOT!) open oven and quickly place bread on center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it's deep golden brown.
  13. Cool on a baking rack.

 

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Mix everything together (well...except fot the cheese and olives!)

Mix everything together (well…except fot the cheese and olives!)

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Doubled.

Doubled.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Fold the right side over the center.

Fold the right side over the center.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

Cut an "X" in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Once risen, cut an “X” in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread - The Rowdy Baker!

 

I’ll bet this dough would make wonderful soft breadsticks, dipped in a little marinara sauce. Or maybe even pizza dough! Guess I’d better go buy another big jar of those green olives.

Ciao!

Lorinda

Hearty Hamburger Buns

Hearty Hamburger Buns - The Rowdy BakerHomemade hamburger buns are easy to make, and taste so much better than store bought! Three types of flour are combined in this recipe to create a hearty dough that is substantial and flavorful, with a tender, consistently even crumb.

The Man’s birthday was today, and he chose hamburgers for his birthday dinner. I was willing to cook just about anything, but…he chose hamburgers! Since I’m trying to sneak whole wheat into our diet, I added enough to give the buns some character without turning them into hockey pucks. He said it was the best hamburger I’d ever made – so we were both happy with the results!Hearty Hamburger Buns from The Rowdy Baker

Of course, these buns aren’t just for hamburgers. Personally, I’m all about using them for peanut butter and banana sandwiches!  They’d be great for Sloppy Joes too, because they’re dense enough to keep from getting soggy.

This recipe makes sixteen average buns, or twelve large ones. They’re best fresh, so keep out the quantity you think you’ll eat in a couple of days and freeze the rest for later.

You really want this dough to be soft and slightly sticky so the buns aren’t too dry. There are lots of variables with bread: the brand of flour you use, your measuring technique, even the weather. So if it is really sticky, add a little more flour. You should be able to poke at the dough without having to wash your finger, but if you lift the dough with unfloured hands, it will definitely stick to them!

Hearty Hamburger Buns
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Author:
Makes 16 average buns or 12 large buns
Ingredients
  • 2 cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • sesame seeds or grated cheese if desired for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow it to sit 5-10 minutes, or until it looks bubbly.
  2. Add honey and egg, mixing until well combined.
  3. With mixer on low, using a dough hook, add the bread flour and mix well. Add the wheat flour, cake flour, and salt, mixing until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Mix in the softened butter.
  5. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, (or 7-8 minutes by hand on a well floured board). THIS DOUGH WILL BE VERY SOFT AND SLIGHTLY STICKY. If it is very sticky, add a little more bread flour.
  6. Move dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log and cut each log into 8 pieces (or 6 pieces for jumbo buns).
  8. Form each piece into a ball and place on slightly greased baking sheets, no more than 6 pieces per sheet. Let the balls sit for 10 minutes, then press each one down firmly with the lightly greased bottom of a heavy pan. Let the buns rest and rise slightly in a warm place for 10 minutes, then lightly brush the top of each bun with water or milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cheese, or both!
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  10. Bake one sheet of buns at a time for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are rich golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Then the flour and salt

Then the flour and salt

Add butter (okay...I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Add butter last (okay…I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won't be a pretty round ball, but that's okay.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won’t be a pretty round ball, but that’s okay.

Dough has doubled.

Dough has doubled.

Roll into two logs and cut into 16 pieces - or 12 if you want big 'uns.

Divide into 16 pieces – or 12 if you want big ‘uns.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Sprinkle with sesame seeds…

...or cheese.

…or cheese.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Not hard at all, huh? Like any rolls that come out of my oven, a couple of these babies were immediately hijacked, spread with butter, and inhaled. Who needs a burger?

Lorinda

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread The Rowdy BakerWe love our morning porridge, and have switched from 7-grain rolled cereal to our new favorite – Scottish Oatmeal. Scottish oatmeal is ground, and the flavor and texture is incredible. Of course, once I dump a little bit of brown sugar, a handful of toasted pecans and an ocean of milk on it, it’s maybe a wee bit less healthy…but so satisfying!

I finally broke down and bought a 25 pound bag of the stuff, and then felt obligated to use it in a recipe. Cookies turned out kind of “meh”. I’ll have to work on that idea. But the bread? It’s wonderful; hearty, dense, flavorful. Best of all, it doesn’t crumble when you slice it. And toasted? Mmmmm.

And did I mention it is EASY??? It really is!

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread and tea The Rowdy Baker

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread
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Author:
Makes 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 2½ cup very warm water, divided
  • big pinch of sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups Scottish oatmeal (this is a ground oatmeal, not rolled)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white bread flour
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I use avocado or peanut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup warm water with pinch of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let mixture sit for approximately 5 minutes (or until bubbly and foamy).
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with dough hook works best) combine the oatmeal, wheat flour, and bread flour.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the remaining 2 cups warm water, yeast mixture, honey, oil, and salt.
  4. Continue to knead using the dough hook for 4-5 minutes. If kneading by hand, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Prepare two bread pans by spraying with a flour and oil mixture (like Baker's Joy) or greasing pans with shortening.
  7. Punch down dough and separate into 2 equal pieces. Form into loaves and place in pans. Cover and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Heat oven to 375F.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Bread should be a rich brown color, and when tipped out of the pan onto a cooling rack, the bottom of the loaves should be light brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  10. Brush the top of the loaves with butter, if desired.
  11. Allow loaves to cool before slicing....if you have that kind of willpower!

 

You'll need this...and a pinch of sugar!

You’ll need this…and a pinch of sugar!

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Whole wheat flour (left) and Scottish oats (right)

Whole wheat flour (left) and Scottish oats (right)

Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl

Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl

Place dough in a greased bowl to rise

Place dough in a greased bowl to rise

Doubled! Ready to form into loaves and place in pans.

Doubled! Ready to form into loaves and place in pans.

Tried one standard loaf pan and one slightly larger. Small pan yielded a taller loaf, as expected.

Tried one standard loaf pan and one slightly larger. Small pan yielded a taller loaf, as expected.

Looking good. Time to preheat the oven.

Looking good. Time to preheat the oven.

Perfect! The bottom of the loaf should be lightly browned and hollow sounding when tapped

Perfect! The bottom of the loaf should be lightly browned and hollow sounding when tapped

"Allow bread to cool before slicing" Hah! We fight over the warm heels in this house.

“Allow bread to cool before slicing” Hah! We fight over the warm heels in this house.

Okay, this was my nod to “almost healthy”. Now…on to Valentine’s Day and all things chocolate!

Lorinda

Maple Streusel Rollups

Maple Streusel Rollups from The Rowdy BakerI guess it’s time to admit it: I think I need an intervention. This maple addiction has gotten completely out of control. I’ve replaced a lot of my processed sugar with maple sugar, and have developed a love affair (in moderation, of course) with maple whiskey. Pure maple syrup is my go-to sweetener for cereal and tea, though I add a little Mapleine to it for  more maple kick. Yep…I have it BAD!

Today I made Maple Streusel Rollups, which my husband said were “the best thing I’ve made in a long time”. There you have it, folks. You just have to make these!

I started with the recipe that I use for Maple Bars and Cinnamon Rolls,  but made it a wee bit richer with the addition of butter and buttermilk, and sprinkled maple sugar on the dough before rolling. Then I covered the raised rolls with streusel and drizzled the baked rolls with rich maple icing.

Do I have your attention yet?  If not, just look at THIS!roll

 

Light, fluffy, sweet and mapley (I’m pretty sure that’s a real word), and topped with a crunch pecan streusel, drizzled with a serious maple icing.

Oh.My.Word.

Here you go:

Maple Streusel Rollups
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Author:
Makes 24 rolls.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup very warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup very soft butter (almost melted)
  • ½ cup maple sugar (or ½ cup white sugar plus ½ teaspoon maple extract)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • STREUSEL TOPPING:
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans (I toast mine first, but you don't have to)
  • ICING:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract (I use Mapleine)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (more if necessary)
Instructions
  1. In a small pan on medium low heat, combine the milk, shortening, butter and cinnamon. Heat until shortening and butter are melted. Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the warm water, yeast, and ½ teaspoon sugar. Allow the mixture to sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, preferably using a stand mixer, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and ⅓ cup sugar. If using a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook.
  4. Slowly add flour and salt and knead by beating on low for 5 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from sides of bowl, but still be slightly sticky. (If kneading by hand, knead for 7 minutes on floured surface.)
  5. Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
  6. Prepare a large 11x15-inch pan by either lining with parchment or spraying with an oil/flour mixture like Baker's Joy.
  7. Punch down dough and divide in half.
  8. Working with one half at a time, roll out on parchment (or lightly floured surface) to a 15x9-inch rectangle, with the long side facing you.
  9. Spread half of the butter (1/4 cup) on surface of dough and sprinkle with half of the sugar. Roll snugly.
  10. Cut roll into 12 pieces. and place in prepared pan, filling half of the pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  11. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise until almost double.
  12. Heat oven to 400 F.
  13. Combine the streusel ingredients in a small bowl. Taste a spoonful (optional...just thought you might want permission to indulge) and sprinkle over the raised rolls.
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the streusel is a browned - then remove from oven and place on rack to cool.
  15. While slightly warm, combine the ingredients for the icing in a small bowl and spoon icing into a piping bag or a plastic zipper bag with one corner snipped off. Drizzle over the top of the streusel.
  16. Serve!

Add buttermilk to heated mixture.

Add buttermilk to heated mixture.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

The dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, but is still slightly sticky.

The dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, but is still slightly sticky.

Punch down the dough.

Punch down the dough.

Add maple sweetness and roll!

Add maple sweetness and roll!

Slice...

Slice…

Sprinkle risen rolls with streusel.

Sprinkle risen rolls with streusel.

Drizzle the baked rolls with icing.

Drizzle the baked rolls with icing.

This is where I should tell you I’m through with maple recipes for a while…but I’m not. I have another idea I’ve been playing with – not with great success – but it’s given me an idea. A mapley idea.

Oh, and if maple isn’t your thing, I AM working on a savory, hearty dish for the Super Bowl. Come back – please come back.

Lorinda

Rye Party Bread

Rye party bread from The Rowdy BakerEverything can’t be sweet, right?

When social media bombards me with visions of sugarplums, I start craving something hearty, salty, savory- and rye bread with its pungent little caraway seeds is exactly what I need.

This recipe will make two small-ish round loaves of swirled rye bread, but with just a little extra effort, you can produce beautiful canape bread for a buffet – or just for snacking! (I love, love, love them broiled in the oven until crispy and topped with a little peanut butter.)

Serve on a platter with bowls of your favorite spreads. Salmon is wonderful, as is ham, tuna, or chicken salad.Rye party bread with spread

I use a very strange ingredient in mine to get a little darker color for the contrast dough: Kitchen Bouquet (yes, that stuff our mothers darkened gravy with), which looks like it would be beef flavored, but is not. If you taste a tiny bit, it’s actually mild and fairly sweet. This is completely optional, of course.

I tried kneading the cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet in by hand. I recommend a mixer!

I tried kneading the cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet in by hand. I recommend a mixer!

Note: I recently read an article claiming active dry yeast no longer needs to be softened in liquid, and was skeptical, but after experimenting, I totally agree. You’ll see that I skipped that procedure in this recipe. Rye bread is slower to rise, and won’t rise as high as regular bread, but it rose just as expected – with one less step.

Rye Party Bread
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Author:
Makes enough dough for 3 canape pans, or two small round loaves.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup strong, hot coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (regular or special dark)
  • ½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (or substitute coffee or water)
Instructions
  1. In large bowl (stand mixer works best) combine hot coffee, oil, molasses, and buttermilk.
  2. Add rye flour and yeast. Mix until combined.
  3. Add salt, bread flour (begin with 1¾ cups) and caraway seeds. Using a dough hook, knead for approximately 5 minutes (7 minutes by hand). Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. If it doesn't, or is very sticky (slightly sticky is expected), add additional bread flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is the correct consistency.
  4. Remove half of the dough and place it into a greased bowl.
  5. To the remaining half, add cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet (or other liquid). Continue to knead until incorporated. Don't worry if the color isn't completely blended - a little marbling is fine.
  6. Place the darker dough in the same bowl with the lighter dough. Cover and let rise until almost doubled - at least one hour.
  7. Spray the inside of three canape pans thoroughly with an oil/flour spray (like Baker's Joy) and cover one end of each pan tightly with foil. Set aside.
  8. Divide each color into thirds. (*Instructions for making round loaves are at the end of the recipe.)
  9. Roll all six pieces into 6x8-inch rectangles. They will be thin. For each loaf, place a light piece and a dark piece together with the 6-inch side facing you, and roll up firmly, pinching the edges to seal. Give it a little roll back and forth with your hands to make it about 7-inches long, and slide into prepared canape pan, centering dough as much as possible. Set the pan upright on a baking sheet, with the foil covered end down. (This will ensure equal rising all the way around.) There should be about 1 inch of space at the top of the pan.
  10. Place a towel or plastic wrap over the tops of the canape pans and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until it has filled out into the shape of the pans.
  11. Heat oven to 375 F.
  12. Lay the canape pans down on the baking sheet (I leave the foil on), place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. As soon as you are able to handle the pans, slide the bread out to cool completely. You may need to give it a little shake and prod, but it should come out cleanly.Slice into thin, decorative slices.
  13. *To make round loaves, divide each color of dough into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece to roughly the same shape, stack a dark piece and a light piece, and then fold into a ball, creating a marbled effect, "Scooch" the ball along a flat surface to create a smooth round loaf. Cut a criss-cross on the top and cover. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled. Bake on lightly greased baking sheet for 25 minutes at 375 F. Brush hot bread lightly with butter for a shiny appearance.

Bread flour, rye flour, and caraway seeds.

Bread flour, rye flour, and caraway seeds.

Add rye flour and yeast to liquids.

Add rye flour and yeast to liquids.

Knead well! (A stand mixer is recommended.) Dough should come cleanly from sides of bowl.

Knead well! (A stand mixer is recommended.) Dough should come cleanly from sides of bowl.

Dough after one hour. Almost doubled - ready to roll.

Dough after one hour. Almost doubled – ready to roll.

Use an oil/flour spray inside the pan.

Use an oil/flour spray inside the pan.

Roll each piece out to 6x8"

Roll each piece out to 6×8″

Roll dark and light dough together.

Roll dark and light dough together.

Slide dough into pan.

Slide dough into pan.

Risen and ready for the oven.

Risen and ready for the oven.

Rye Party Bread stars from the Rowdy Baker

If you don’t want to fuss with the canape pans, just separate the dough into two pieces of light, and two pieces of dark. Smoosh a dark and light together and form into a ball. Cut the top and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 25 minutes. So simple!

Marbled Rye Bread from The Rowdy Baker

And now…back to my regularly scheduled sweet holiday treats!

Lorinda