Saturday, October 31, 2009

Orange-Date Tea Bread

Mmm, that is all I have to say about this awesome bread, 5 stars for sure. When my husband tasted it he said it reminded him of Christmas. I think it would make a delicious Christmas morning breakfast!

Preheat your oven to 350 F, and grease the pan of your choice. You have the option of using a 6 cup mini Bundt pan (I actually used my 8 cup) or a 81/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl soak 3/4 cup of chopped dates in 1/4 a cup of boiling water.

Zest of one orange (to be added to the next step) I got between one and two tablespoons.

In a large bowl cream together 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 cup sugar, and grated zest of one orange. When fluffy add one egg and beat until combined.

In another bowl combine 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 a teaspoon of salt.

In a third bowl mix 1 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. (or use your liquid measuring cup if you want to save some dishes!)

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat well after each addition. Then fold in 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped pecans and the dates with their liquid.

Glaze: 1/3 cup sugar (I used powdered, but it really didn't specify a certain kind) and 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice.

Now this is where things drop off and I don't have a picture of the final result! I had what I call "a moment". When you use a Bundt pan it is important to let the bread/cake cool COMPLETELY before you remove it from the pan. Unfortunately, I suppose from force of habit (when you make bread you normally remove it asap, otherwise it gets soggy) I guess I was in that mind frame because I pulled the tea bread from the oven and turned it onto a plate, ahhhhh, only about half of it came out. Not a pretty sight, I am sparing you all of the ghastly scene.
But it was still super tasty and delicious!

Note: The recipe says to let the tea bread sit for a day (wrapped tightly in plastic) to develop it's flavor, I thought it tasted just as good when it was warm.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Classic Buttermilk Biscuits

mmm, there is nothing like a hot biscuit with butter. I grew up on baking powder biscuits, with a delicious lentil soup of course. Adding buttermilk adds yet another level of flavor that just makes you feel good. I like this recipe (though it still doesn't quite compare to my Mom's!) I give it 4 stars.

In a bowl (or food processor, etc.) Combine 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt and 6 tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) cold, unsalted butter, or solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces. Cut the butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs with no large chunks. (use pulse on food processor). If the butter starts to get soft rechill for 20 minutes.

Add egg and buttermilk, stirring just until moistened. (Note: If using food processor add buttermilk a little at a time, you may not need all it calls for)

After I mixed I put my dough into a bowl just to make scooping out easier. I grew up using the drop method, you can also roll these out, I think that is actually traditional. If you are rolling sprinkle flour on surface, roll no more then 3/4 an inch thick, then cut out with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or your favorite glass!!)

Place biscuits 1/2 an inch apart on the lightly greased baking sheet (I recommend air bake)

Bake 15-18 minutes on 425 F.

Other Possibilities:
2/3 cup cooked wild rice (added to dry ingredients in step 1)

Substitute 3/4 cup whole wheat flour or 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour for an equal amount of unbleached flour and add to dry ingredients in step 1.

Add 1/4 cup coarsely chopped JalapeƱos (fresh or canned) with liquid ingredients in step 2.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buttermilk Potato Bread

This bread was a little different, the first warm piece I had I didn't really like it. But after it cooled off it was good! I'm giving it 3 1/2 stars. I think it depends on what you like, my husband liked it a lot, as well as my good friend who comes and bakes with me.
*This dough can also be made into rolls, or one free form loaf.
(sorry about the online picture, I was still trying to figure out my documenting when I made this bread several weeks ago)

1 large russet potato (about 3/4 a lb)
Peel the potato and cut it into large pieces, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Cook until soft. Drain the water and reserve it, add water if you need to in order to have one cup. Mash the potato and set aside.

Warm or cool the potato water to 105-115 F. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons (2 packages active dry yeast) over the water with a pinch of sugar. Let sit until foamy.

In a saucepan,warm 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup cold buttermilk just until the butter melts.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, and mashed potato. Make sure the mashed potato is smooth, otherwise you will have lumps in your bread.

My hand mixer decided to go on to "mixer heaven" so we are doing this with a whisk/by hand until I get a new one...

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and potato mixture with 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour. Mix until smooth (3 minutes by machine). Add the flour, 1/2 a cup at a time with a wooden spoon, until you have a soft dough. (6-7 cups total, add as much as you can, knead in the rest)

Knead for 10-15 minutes (or 5 minutes if you used an electric mixer), if dough begins to get sticky add a couple of tablespoons to keep going.

Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rise until doubled, About an hour. Don't worry if it takes up to two. (sorry, another borrowed picture, I really dropped the ball on this one!)

Shape loaves and place into two 9x5 inch greased pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise about 3o minutes. You can brush with egg glaze (1 egg, a little water to thin it out), and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

20 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake on center rack for 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

Immediately remove from the pans and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sour Cream Apple Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

I made these muffins several weeks ago, but completely spaced taking pictures, and so I used it as an excuse to make them again. They are delicious, and definately get 5 stars.

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup unbleached flour, 3-4 tablespoons of butter

I used a food processor, you can also use two knives, or possibly a blender, or the dough hook on a hand or bowl mixer.

Mix the flour and sugar, then add the butter in chunks.

The mixture should resemble course crumbs, You can see that I over stirred, I think this would have been better if I had used 3 tablespoons of butter instead of 4.


In a large bowl combine 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground allspice (can substitute with pepper), 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, 2 tablespoons dried currants.

Peel two large tart apples (I used granny smith)

Chop (you could probably even grate them as well, depends on if you want chunky). Set aside.

In another bowl melt 4 tablespoons of butter, then add 2 large eggs and 1 1/2 cups sour cream (16 oz container).

Mix apples and sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Only stir until evenly moistened, 15-20 strokes.

Spoon into greased muffin pan until even with the top (I actually added a little more then that) then sprinkle streusel on top.

Bake on 375 for 20-25 minutes. Let sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a turner or spatula. They came out really easy after 10 minutes. I used a butter knive to get them out, but be gentle otherwise it will scratch your pan. If you have a small spatula that will work as well.

mmmm, so good. I can tell you these muffins didn't even last a day!

A little experiment

I had a little left over batter and didn't want to break out another pan for two muffins so I cooked it in the microwave (with streusel on top) in a cereal bowl for 1 1/2 minutes. I was impressed with how well it turned out!