bread

Daring Bakers: Focaccia

Pretty much every Daring Bakers Challenge I have ever done has been done frantically, a day or two before the posting date.  This time was different.  Almost 2 weeks ago I made my first herbed focaccia loaf.  But I only took a picture of the finished product, and only with my iphone.  I told myself I’d make another one and take good photos.  I wound up making three more, but didn’t manage to take any good photos.  Of any of them.  Here is the problem, well problems really.  3 kids under 5, an inability to plan ahead, and the worst, bad light.  Each time I made bread it was to serve with dinner which meant I was finishing up the bread right about the time the light in my kitchen was blue and my kids were screaming for something.  Any of you who have ever been around kids between the hours of 5 and 8pm know exactly what I am talking about.

But there is a bright side!  This recipe is wonderful…easy, delicious and with lots of options to make it simple or to add special toppings.

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For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.

The herbed focaccia recipe I made three times.  Once sprinkled with salt, olive oil and fresh rosemary, the second time topped with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, salt and rosemary.  And most recently I made individual ones with sundried tomatoes and parmesan.

My favorite was the second, the one with sliced tomatoes.  The sundried tomatoes I added at the beginning of baking and so they got a little too charred.  I think you could easily chop them up and add them to the dough for something really great.  But the fresh tomatoes won for me.  I think maybe because this was the closest one to being pizza!

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I tried the Focaccia di Recco, but couldn’t find the right cheese, so it wasn’t quite right.  The recipe calls for Stracchino cheese, but I used shredded mozzarella with just OK results.  If I ever see it on a menu or in a bakery somewhere I am going to have to try it.  It sounds incredible.  Melty cheese sandwihed between thin layers of dough.  Yum.

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If you’ve ever thought about making focaccia but bought a loaf at the market instead because you thought it was too hard, let me encourage you to try this recipe.  You may never go back to store bought!

Herbed Focaccia

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil and kosher salt for sprinkling on top
  • Toppings: fresh rosemary, freshly grated parmesan, sliced tomatoes, olives, sundried tomatoes, onions, etc.

Directions

  1. Whisk together warm milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl.  Let rest until foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour and all the spices.  Mix in the cheese, vegetable oil and yeast mixture.
  3. Using a dough hook, mix dough on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, between 1 and 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 450F.  Turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Shape into a rectangle or circle, or divide into 4 circles for individual breads.  Press all over with your finger tips, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place toppings.  Let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Drizzle with a bit more oil, sprinkle with more salt if desired and top with some fresh grated Parmesan.  Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Cardamom Easter Bread

Right now as I write this post I am snacking on some of this bread warm from the toaster with my afternoon coffee.  It’s such a treat and I want you to experience the same pleasure.  So do yourself a favor and go make this bread for the weekend!

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Sometimes I hit a wall when I’m writing a blog post.  I am having that experience now with this post.  Big time.  My mind is just a big foggy mess and when I sit down at the computer my hands freeze.  For some reason I feel like I should have something to say other than, “I made this.  It was delicious.  Here is the recipe.”  But that’s all I have!

So.

I made this.

Easter Bread

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It was delicious.

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Here is the recipe.

Hope you all have a very Happy Easter celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Cardamom Easter Bread

Makes 2 loaves, 1 loaf and 4 buns, or 8 buns

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons) dry active yeast
  • 8-9 cups all purpose flour
  • eggs, one for each bun you plan to make (colored with egg coloring and RAW) and one for the egg wash
  • sprinkles

Directions

  1. Heat milk over medium-low heat until bubbles form on the edges of the pan and the milk is steaming.  Turn off the heat. Stir in melted butter, sugar, salt, ground cardamom and nutmeg.  Let mixture cool until lukewarm, 100-110°F. Stir in the yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes until foamy. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add 2 cups of flour and mix on low with the dough hook until flour is mixed in.  Add 2 more cups, mix, and repeat until you’ve added 8 cups total.  Turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes.  If the dough does not pull away from the sides of the bowl add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it does.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a bit, then place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  4. Punch dough down and place on a floured surface.  Divide in half.  For Bread: Divide a half into thirds and roll each third into a rope about 14 inches long.  Pinch ends together and then braid the ropes together, pinch the ends together and tuck the ends under.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for an hour.  For Buns: Divide the half into 4 pieces, then each piece in half.  Take those pieces and roll them into ropes about 10 inches long.  Pinch the ends together and twist the pieces together, then pinch the ends and connect the ends by pinching them together.  Repeat with the rest and place all 4 buns on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Beat an egg and brush onto buns or loaves.  Sprinkle with colored sprinkles if desired.  Place egg in the center of each bun.  Bake for 20-25 minutes for buns and 25-30 minutes for bread.

 

Daring Bakers: Baked Pork Siopao

I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life!  When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these.  You won’t be disappointed.  Especially with the meat!  I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write!  It is very, very good.

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The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

These siopao make a great meal.  You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go.  While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.

As I said before, the meat is to die for.  So good.  For real.  My house smelled heavenly while it baked.  DO NOT leave out the star anise!  It’s subtle but adds so much.  I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!

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After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor.  This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy.  Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state.  Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice.  It makes for a crazy good sauce later.  Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice.  Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container.  Sorry for all the fat talk.

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Almond Heart Danish with Browned Butter Glaze

Grand plans were made to post some lovely pink hued macarons in honor of Valentine’s Day!  In my mind they were beautiful and delicious and enviable.  How hard could macarons be, anyway?  I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baking.  I’d say I’m an advanced amateur.  And I’m seeing macarons everywhere.  If all of those people can make them, then I can.  You know what happens when you start thinking like that?  You get humbled.  Big time.  I overestimated my kitchen abilities and wound up with some cracked and foot-less macarons.  Apparently macaron baking is a skill that requires practice.  Hats off to those of you who make them well.  You have my respect forever and always.  So I will keep working on my macaron making.  Maybe some day you’ll see a post on them!  That is if I don’t get too discouraged and give up.  Sometimes I do that…

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Instead of finicky macarons I went with something I am more comfortable and familiar with, pastry!  This would make a lovely Valentine’s breakfast.  You can bake it the day before and then just warm it up in the oven briefly before glazing.  You could also let it do the second rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning.

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Daring Bakers: Dutch Sweet Bread

I am pleased to say that I have successfully completed an entire year of The Daring Bakers!  Wahoo!  It ended with this Dutch sweet bread that I got to bring to our family Christmas.

Dutch Sweet Bread | Hottie Biscotti

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.

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This bread has nice flavor.  It was chewy and is most delicious eaten toasted with a spread of butter.

I’m keeping this post short since I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house.  So I’m off to spend some more time with them and laugh uncontrollably at silly things with my sisters.  Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Dutch Sweet Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 cup less 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon ground gingerbread spices
  • 1¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used all purpose)
  • 1¾ teaspoons baking powder

Gingerbread Spice Blend

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and sugar a loaf pan.
  2. Put the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.
  3. Add the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. Some lumps are ok.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Homemade Crescent Rolls

If your childhood was anything like mine you have fond memories of eating Pillsbury crescent rolls.  You’ve likely watched someone experience, or you’ve experienced for yourself, the frustration of getting the tube open after not peeling the paper enough and then banging it on the counter to get it to pop open.  Maybe your mom let you help roll them up and put them on the baking sheet.  And then you got to enjoy their warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with dinner.  Pillsbury will always have a special place in my heart, but these homemade crescent rolls might be what my kids remember enjoying.

Crescent Rolls | Hottie Biscotti

This recipe comes from my America’s Best Lost Recipes cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen.

These were surprisingly simple to put together and bake.  You do have to let them rise twice, once after making the dough and once after forming the rolls.

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So you’re looking at a minimum of 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  If you want to serve them to your kids for dinner start them with enough time.  I didn’t, so my kids ate them for dessert!

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Be sure not to over bake these.  They get a tad dry when cooked too long.  Nothing that a little extra butter can’t cure, though!  If you’re planning to make these and then reheat them for later (think make-ahead Thanksgiving bread) bake them until just slightly golden so you can reheat them without fear of them drying out.

You will probably need to make three sheets of rolls, 8 per sheet, unless you have large cookie sheets and a large oven.  It’s perfectly fine to bake the first two sheets and bake the other right after the first ons come out.  Just be sure to keep them covered.

These do rise during baking, so don’t place them too close together.  Also, try to cook similar sized rolls on the same baking sheet.  Unless you can roll a perfect circle of dough, some wedges will be bigger than others.  They’ll take longer to bake, and the smaller ones will take less time.  If you have different sized rolls on the same sheet some will be over baked while others will be under baked.  I emphasize this point only because I had one sheet that had some quite small and some quite large rolls and I had this problem.  Aren’t you glad you have someone to make mistakes for you?!

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The only thing I might do differently would be to brush these with more melted butter right after baking.  Because there isn’t much better than that.

Crescent Rolls

From America’s Best Lost Recipe

Makes 24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Melt 1 stick of butter and let cool slightly.  Mix with warm milk, sugar and eggs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl) mix 4 1/2 cups flour, salt and yeast.
  3. Add in the milk mixture and mix on low until dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes.  If dough seems sticky add in a couple tablespoons of flour.
  4. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a bit and shape into a ball.  Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Melt the 1/2 stick of butter and set aside.
  6. Prepare baking sheets (you’ll need 2 large or 3 regular) by lining them with parchment.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal sized pieces.  Working with one piece, roll into a 10-inch circle.  Brush with butter, then use a pizza cutter to slice dough into 8 wedges.
  8. Take a sliced piece and roll, starting from the wide end, up to the pointed end and place pointed side down on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  9. Cover rolls with clean towels or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  11. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until rolls are golden.  Do not let them get too dark.
  12. Bake third sheet of rolls if necessary.
  13. Serve warm or let cool completely before packing up to serve later or freeze.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas

Cooking and baking and then blogging about it have not come easy for the last 2 months.  A new baby complicates things, in the most precious way possible of course.  During the baking and photographing of these tasty treats I was struggling to keep my older two from hurting each other and the little guy from getting too fussy.  Thankfully I was able to pull this challenge off!  Being a mom is a tough job, y’all.  Whew.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

While a part of me really wanted to try the wedding pastry I just didn’t feel up to the challenge, so I chose the less daring challenge and made these lovely rolled breads.  They seemed so simple that I wasn’t sure if they’d be anything special.  They were in fact simple, but in a really special way.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

The dough is basic yeast dough, not too sweet.  After the first rise you divide the dough into four parts.  You roll each ball of dough into a long rectangle, spread it will softened butter and stretch it out very thin.  You roll that up into a long rope and then wind each rope into a spiral.  Let those rise again, then bake.

The original recipe calls for sprinkling these with powdered sugar after baking, but I was out of powdered sugar.  How this happened I do not know.  So I brushed the breads with egg wash and sprinkled them with raw sugar.  I really liked the textural difference this gave these breads.

As always, I am glad to have been introduced to something I otherwise would never have heard of.  Thanks, Swathi!

And thanks to this little guy who got out his play camera to help me take pictures.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

Ensaimadas

Makes 4 large breads

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (plus 1/2 teaspoon for yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • raw sugar

Directions

  1. Mix together warm water, yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes, until it blooms.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine egg, olive oil, salt and sugar and stir.
  3. Add in flour and yeast mixture and knead for about 6 minutes.
  4. Remove from bowl and transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  6. Flour a clean work surface and turn dough out.  Divide into 4 equal parts.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out into a rectangle, 4 by 8 inches.  Spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of softened butter and then stretch the dough out to about 8 by 14 inches.
  8. Roll the dough from the long end into a tight rope.  Take the rope in your hands and try to get it into an even thickness and stretch it just a bit longer.
  9. Coil the rope into a loose snail shape onto the parchment lined sheet, so that there is some room for the dough to rise.  Repeat with the other dough balls.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  11. Beat the egg with a splash of water.  Brush onto each roll then sprinkle generously with sugar.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Let cool slightly before serving.

Daring Bakers: Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

This challenge was so simple, so fun and so delicious!  As always I was given the opportunity to try something I’d never tried before, and something I’d never even heard of!  These little light and airy cheesy Brazilian bread balls are something special and I’m excited to share them with you.

Pão de Queijo | Hottie Biscotti

This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! Renata of “Testado, Provado & Aprovado!” taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba!

Pão de queijo are almost like popovers.  Their airy texture combined with their rich cheese flavor makes them super addictive, especially when eaten warm.  They’re great right after coming out of the oven just cool enough to handle.  But I rewarmed room temp ones in the microwave for about 8 seconds with great success 🙂  If you’re gluten free, then you’re in luck!  Instead of wheat flour you use tapioca flour here, which I found without any trouble at my grocery store with all the other specialty flours.  The texture is different than a bread made with all purpose flour, of course, but it still has a nice bready chew that would’ve fooled me if I didn’t know they were gluten free.

Pão de Queijo | Hottie Biscotti

Renata gave us the option of using any cheese we liked.  When I searched recipes I found Parmesan to be a popular choice.  So I went with 6 ounces of a goat cheddar and 2 ounces of Parmesan.  I liked the way it turned out, but she says any cheese or combination of cheeses would work, so get creative!

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The dough is very easy to make, but a little messy since you get in there with your hands and it is a bit sticky.  You don’t need any fancy equipment and your mixer doesn’t have to get dirty.  The recipe I used calls for 1-3 eggs and you may or may not use them all.  I did use all 3.  She recommends whisking all 3 eggs together and then adding what you need as you begin working the dough together.  Once it’s all together it rolls quite easily into balls and bakes up beautifully.

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Since these are best eaten fresh from the oven I just baked half of the dough, then shaped the rest of the dough and froze it.  I haven’t tried it, but apparently you can bake them straight from frozen!  And that is what I plan to do the next time I need a last minute appetizer or snack for guests.  Bam.

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Something I wish I’d tried was making this dough in a waffle iron.  I cannot begin to imagine the deliciousness of using this as the bread for a breakfast sandwich!

Thanks for the great challenge this month, Renata!  I really enjoyed it and am excited to experiment more with this terrific bread.

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

From Renata of Testado, Provado e Aprovado

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (500 grams) tapioca flour/tapioca starch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt (or more if your cheese is not salty)
  • 9 ounces of coarsely grated cheese (I used a goat cheddar and Parmesan)
  • 1-3 large eggs, beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Sift tapioca flour into a large bowl.
  3. Combine milk, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium until mixture boils, then remove from the heat.
  4. Pour hot milk over tapioca flour and begin stirring with a fork, working the mixture until the milk is evenly distributed.  It will look crumbly.  Let it cool off a bit.
  5. With clean hands, work in the grated cheese.
  6. Add in the eggs, a little at a time, working the dough together with your hands.  Once the dough holds together, you’re done.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  8. Roll dough into balls about the size of ping pong balls.  They puff a little during baking, so don’t crowd them  too closely on the pan.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes. until tops just begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool just slightly before eating.

 

Hot Cross Buns

It’s Good Friday, and while I have never personally associated hot cross buns with today, a lot of people in the UK, Australia and other countries with British ties do.  And The Pioneer Woman.  So of course she has an incredible recipe for them.  That’s just what she does.

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I can see this becoming a tradition in our house.  My kids are too young to understand what Good Friday really means, but I did talk to Carson this morning about Jesus dying on the cross today after he ate (picked at) his hot cross bun.  As they get older I can see us starting the day on Good Friday eating these and talking about the importance and the meaning of the coming weekend.

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I followed the recipe, found here, exactly.  The only thing I think I would do differently is to tear the dough into larger pieces.  The recipe says golf ball/ping pong ball sized, and that the recipe yields 18 buns.  When I was tearing them that small I was going to get more than 18.  I’d say make them a little bigger, maybe tennis ball size.  Also, watch them as they bake.  The smaller dough balls do not need 20 minutes in the oven.  Check them after 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and then keep an eye on them.  At 400°F they go from nicely browned to too dark very quickly.  The ones I overcooked were not as good at the ones I pulled from the oven before they got too dark.

The flavor of these buns is incredible.  I baked these last night and I just had to try one warm from the oven.  I was planning to have a pinch, but I stood there in the kitchen taking pinch after pinch until that bun was gone.  The frosting on top makes them extra beautiful, makes the name fit them, and adds a nice bit of extra sweetness.

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I hope you try these, if not on Good Friday, just as a nice breakfast bread anytime.  If you lived back in the days of Elizabeth I you wouldn’t be allowed to enjoy these on any days but Good Friday, burials and Christmas!  Enjoy celebrating Easter this weekend!

Hot Cross Buns

From The Pioneer Woman

Makes 18-24 depending on size

Ingredients

Buns

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup (additional) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Filling

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  Spices: cardamom, nutmeg, allspice (I used 1/2 teaspoon cardamom and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I accidentally used 1 cup, and they were still great)

Glaze

  • 1 egg white
  • splash of milk

Frosting

  • 1 egg white
  • powdered sugar
  • milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Buns

  1. Heat milk, oil and sugar over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.  Remove from the heat and let cool until warm, between 100 and 115°F.
  2. Transfer milk mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top, followed by 4 cups of flour.  Mix it all together well, then put a towel over the bowl and let it rest for 1 hour.
  3. Stir the sugar and spices together and set aside.
  4. Mix in the extra 1/2 cup flour along with the salt, baking powder and baking soda.  After it is combined, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and flatten the dough evenly.
  5. Sprinkle some of the sugar over the dough, then sprinkle with some raisins.  Fold the dough over it self, flatten it out again and repeat with the sugar and raisins.  Fold over again, flatten, sprinkle with sugar and raisins, then fold once more and flatten slightly.
  6. Pull off pieces of dough, about tennis ball sized for larger buns, golf ball sized for smaller buns, roll into balls, pull the edges of the dough down and underneath the dough ball, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Repeat for all the dough, leaving buns enough room to spread and rise in the oven.
  7. Place a clean towel over the buns and let rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  9. Whisk egg white and a little milk for glaze and brush on the buns before putting them in the oven.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, then check buns and rotate the pans.  Bake until buns are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes for smaller buns, 13-18 for larger buns.
  11. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Frosting

  1. Mix egg white with powdered sugar until it is smooth and thick.  Add a little milk to thin it out slightly, but still at a consistency that will not run off the buns.
  2. Put frosting in a piping bag or a ziploc, cut the tip and pipe a cross onto each bun.  Let harden (or not!) and enjoy.

 

Basic Cream Biscuits

As I declared recently I am on a mission to be a master biscuit maker.  So today I am stating with a basic biscuit recipe, the cream biscuit.

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The ingredients are simple and you probably have all but the heavy cream right now.  Maybe you have the cream if you’re an avid baker or you drink cream in your coffee, or you just have a kitchen that’s ready for anything!  I had to go out and buy some cream to make these biscuits, but I had everything else, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  That’s all you need.  And from start to finish these only take about 25 minutes!  What could be better than a quick, simple and delicious biscuit?

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Everyone wants a tender biscuit.  So, as I began making these biscuits I was very conscious of a tip I’ve heard and read many times regarding biscuit making, DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH.  So I mixed it up just until it held together, and I kneaded it just enough so that I could easily pat it together to cut from.  After cutting three 2 1/2 inch biscuits from my first round of dough I was a little scared to bring the scraps together to cut from, so I dealt with them very gently.  The result was a less uniform biscuit, but one that still tasted amazing!  The lesson I learned from this was to make sure you get as many biscuits from your first round of dough as possible to get as many beautiful biscuits as you can.

I was also shooting for tall biscuits, so I patted the dough out a little thicker than the recipe states, about 1 inch thick.  This led to fewer total biscuits, 6 instead of the 8 the recipe states you’ll get from the recipe.

The biscuits fill your house with an amazing and rich aroma as they bake.  It’s so delicious that you can’t help but take a bite of one of these as soon as they’re cool enough to eat.  And that, of course, is they best time to eat them, when they’re nice and warm.  If you make these ahead of time, you can warm them in a low oven before eating.  You can also cut the rounds of dough, place them on the cookie sheet, then cover them and refrigerate for up to 2 hours before baking.

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Enjoy these with butter and jam, the simpler the better in my opinion.  However, I do plan to use some of the leftover biscuits to make breakfast sandwiches this weekend.

Basic Cream Biscuits

From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Makes 6-8 biscuits, depending on the cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center and add the cream.  Mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until dough comes together.
  5. Pat into a round about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Using a 2 or 2 1/2 inch cutter, press straight down without twisting to cut each biscuit.  Place on the baking sheet and continue cutting.
  6. Gather scraps together and cut as many more as you can.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until tops are golden.