Portuguese Sweet Bread

Ahhhh, take a deep breath, my friends.

Do you smell it?

That gently yeasty buttery wafting smell…the smell of home, family, and fresh baked goodness.

Oh, yes, it is finally bread baking season!

Here’s an easy, sweet tasting bread for all occasions.

The Recipe:

Portuguese Sweet Bread, adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour

1/2 c milk

4 T butter, cut into pats

1/3 c sugar

1 1/4 t salt

3 1/4 c bread flour

1 T yeast

grated peel (zest) of 1 medium lemon

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved

2 t vanilla extract

Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Heat to lukewarm, stirring to soften the butter. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, the bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, yeast, and lemon zest; stir to combine. Add the milk mixture, (stirring first to make sure the sugar and salt aren’t left in the bottom of the cup or pan). Add the eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Mix and knead until the dough is cohesive and smooth; it’ll be very sticky at first. (If you’re using a stand mixer, beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It will have formed a ball somewhat, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl.)

Lightly grease a mixing bowl, round the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan. Gently deflate the dough, and round it into a ball. Place the ball in the prepared pan, and tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for about 2 hours, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the loaf; this will give it a satiny, mahogany-brown crust.

Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s a medium golden brown and its internal temperature registers 190°F on a digital thermometer.

Tips and Tricks:

Whenever I place bread dough in a bowl to rise, I put it in the greased bowl, and then flip it over. so that the top is greased as well. That seems to keep it from drying out on top.

The Results:

I made this bread to go with our chili from the previous recipe. I wanted something sweeter to counter the savory of the chili. I thought it worked wonderfully.

Additionally, this was a super easy recipe to make and it seemed pretty full-proof.

Everyone enjoyed the bread, though Hubs thought the lemon flavor was a little much. I thought it was very similar to a Hawaiian bread recipe and found it worked well with the chili – and on it’s own as a dessert. 🙂 The kids all liked it, so I call it a success.

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And it’s pretty, too!

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Pregnancy Craving #2: Banana with Peanut Butter {Peanut Butter Banana Bread}

Ahhh, the oven is fixed!

And I’m back in business.

This week’s recipe is brought to you by my craving for anything that combines the flavors of bananas and peanut butter.  (Best brought to my mouth by simply dipping a banana into, you guessed it, peanut butter – I have my own dedicated tub for just that purpose, by the way.)

Anyhow, when I saw this recipe, I knew I needed to make it.

The Recipe:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread, adapted from Joy the Baker

3 ripe bananas

1/3 c vanilla yogurt

1/3 c crunchy peanut butter

3 T butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 t vanilla

1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 c all-purpose flour

3/4 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

1/8 t ground allspice

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a mixer, beat bananas until light and creamy.  Add yogurt, peanut butter and melted butter. Blend in eggs, sugars, and vanilla.  Mix until no sugar lumps remain.

Add all dry ingredients, and fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges of the pan and inverting the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.

The Results:

Well, this is certainly great banana bread… but it’s not nearly as peanut buttery as I’d really hoped.  (Hubs didn’t even realize there was peanut butter in it.)

I could taste the peanut butter, myself, but it was a very subtle undertone instead of the salty burst of flavor I was looking for.  Not that this stopped me from eating it at all.  Somehow, I perservered. 😉

Anyways the texture is super moist with an almost barely crunchy crust, which delighted my senses.  And, honestly, you can never go wrong with a good banana bread regardless of what you’re craving.

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So, I still recommend trying this – but if you want the pb and banana combo, I think I’d double the amount of peanut butter.  Or just spread some on top.

Happy Hump Day!

Apple Cider Muffins

I was craving a warm, tasty apple muffin.

(Darn Pinterest and all the autumn treats floating around.)

But we didn’t have any apples – and I couldn’t get out of the house because of the napper.

We did have some apple cider and some applesauce, so I decided to see what I could do…

The Recipe:

Apple Cider Muffins, adapted from Lehighvalley.com

1 egg, room temperature

1/4 c applesauce

1 c whole wheat flour

2/3 c all-purpose flour

1 c apple cider

2/3 c sugar

1/2 c butter, room temperature

2 t baking powder

1 t cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

dash of ground cloves

1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease or line 12 cupcake wells.  In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg and applesauce, beating well after each addition.  Whisk together flours, baking powder, spices, and salt.   Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, then 1/2 of the cider, and repeat, ending with the last of the flour and mixing only until incorporated. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Well, these certainly hit the spot.

And I think I did a pretty good job of taking a very sweet cupcake recipe and mellowing it out a bit into a muffin, with a couple healthier substitutions (though I did leave the sugar and butter alone).

I especially enjoyed the slightly dense texture that was full of the cider-y spice flavor.

I think if I were to make these again, I would add some apple chunks to give it that little extra ‘something’ to make them even better.  (And it would NOT use the cupcake liners – these babies stuck hard to the liners, so beware.)

Oh, and if you want another take on Apple Muffins, check out Smidge’s Saucy Apple Spice Muffins… hers look divine!  (And proof that great minds think alike.)

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

A month.

(Actually over a month.)

That’s how long it’s been since I baked a loaf bread.

Withdrawals had commenced.  Cravings had been squashed.  Life had seemed to move on…

But then I cracked.

Oh, well… at least I made a somewhat ‘healthy’ bread.

(That’s what I’m telling myself as I enjoy slices slathered with butter for dessert.)

The Recipe:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread, adapted from White On Rice Couple

1 c water

1 c milk

1 T active dry yeast

1 T honey

2 T unsulphured molasses

3 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c wheat germ

1 c bread flour

1 c rolled oats

4 T butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 T sea salt

On low heat, warm milk and water to about 115 F.  Combine water, milk, yeast, honey, and molasses in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Stir to dissolve yeast.  Add remaining ingredients and use the bread hook to mix for about 6 minutes on medium speed (or knead by hand for about 10 minutes).  Dough should form a ball around the hook – if it’s sticking to the sides, add an additional tablespoon or two+ of flour until it forms a ball.  Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Lightly grease 9x5x3 bread loaf pan.

Punch down dough and knead into loaf shape on a lightly floured surface.  Place in loaf pan, cover, and let rise for an additional hour or until it just begins to puff up over the sides of the loaf pan.  (While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 F.)

Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through.  The loaf is done baking when the crust is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove the loaf from the pan and allow to full cool on a baking rack.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve made bread when I start to question my own gut-knowledge of bread baking and instead rely on parts of a recipe that just don’t sound exactly right…

First off, in the original recipe, they have the dough rise in the mixer bowl, from just where it’d been mixed.  So I did it… and remembered why you move it to a greased bowl: the rising dough gets sticky again and attaches itself to all the sides of the bowl, making it hard to dump out and knead.  (I did change this in the recipe above).

Secondly, it is suggested to add some oats onto the top for decoration.  But they don’t suggest this until after the second rise and right before baking.  So, as I sprinkled my oats on top and gently pressed them into the dough, I collapsed the middle of my bread.  And then they all fell off anyways after baking.  Grrr.  If you’d like to make a pretty topping, I suggest adding the oats right before the second rise, so they can embed themselves in the bread while rising.

I just hate that I knew better in both instances, but I doubted myself since it’d been a while.

Oh, well.

Even with a collapsed center, it still looks pretty good.

The good news is, neither mistake caused any issues with the flavor of the bread at all.

It’s definitely a wheat bread, but its got a sweet undertone from the honey and molasses.  It’s also a little dense, so not as light as most of the white breads I’ve made in the past – but it’s not dense in a bad way.  Overall, it’s so much better than any store-bought bread – plus you get the bonus of the aroma of freshly baking  bread in the house… which is worth it’s weight in gold to me.

My happy place…

And it’s my new favorite treat – with butter, no less.

(Can I just take a minute to share that this is the first time we’ve used butter in this house in a month!  Before that, I was buying a new box of butter at least once a week.  Yikes!  Probably a good thing we’ve cut back.)

Now to plan out my next bread adventure…

(Because I’m not giving bread baking up.  I just can’t do it.)

Have a wonderful end of the week!

Sandwich Rolls

I think I’m pretty good at finding the humor in my cooking adventures.

(For the most part.)

And I’ve been pretty open about my issues with math.

But today’s recipe wins for pure math stupidity.  (I mean, I completely messed up simple division.)  It didn’t ruin the recipe… just the results.

And it caused a pretty good laugh around here.

The Recipe:

Sandwich Rolls, adapted from food.com

2 pkgs active dry yeast

1 1/2 c water, (110-115 degrees), divided into 1/4 c and 1 1/4 c

1 T sugar, divided into 1/2 T and 1/2 T

2 T vegetable oil

1/2 T salt

4 -4 1/4 c bread flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water add 1/2 T sugar and then let stand about 5 minutes.

Add remaining water and sugar.  Beat in oil, salt and 2 cups flour until smooth.  Stir in enough flour (another 2+ cups) to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured board.  Knead until smooth and elastic for about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured board, divide into 8 pieces.  Shape into ovals.  Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheets.  With scissors cut a 1/4-inch slash across the top of each.  Cover and let rise 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 13-18 minutes until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

When I found this recipe, it was originally set to make a ton of rolls.  Food.com is kind enough, though, to have a calculator tool that can change the ingredient amounts based on the yield of results you’d like.  I quickly had them halve the recipe for me.

The only issue with this tool, is that it does not affect the narrative part of the recipe at all.  So, you need to go back and forth between having the correct amount (from the ingredients) to having to halve items (from the directions).  It’s very confusing – especially if you’re corralling little boys at the same time.

(By the way, I completely fixed this in the above recipe – so no tough math for you all.)

Anyways, let’s just say I made it through the mixing and rising just fine – no mistakes.  It was once I hit the dividing the dough into small loaves that my brain went out the window.  I do not know what I was thinking, but I decided to divide the correct yield (8 loaves) in half – and only made 4 loaves.

4 large loaves… for sandwiches, they were a bit of an overkill.

Gigantic sandwiches, anyone?

At this point, all I could do was laugh… and brainstorm how to cut it to make it work.  I ended up cutting the bread in half to make two long pieces and the cutting through the middle to make a top and bottom.  (I hope that makes sense.)  Crisis averted!

The best part: using the bread for some prime rib french dips a la Hubs.

This bread was absolutely perfect for french dips.  Hubs grilled the pieces with a little butter to get that outside crunch – and the inside was super soft, begging to suck up some au jus.

And we used them later in the week for some pb&j for the boys.  (And maybe us, too.)  They held up well in those, too.

I’m just thankful my lack of numerical skills didn’t ruin this one – because we’d surely have been missing out.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

I’m kind of late to all the cooking trends out there.

I only started eating quinoa about a year ago.

I still sometimes mix up macaroons and macarons.

And whenever I hear about chia seeds I still think of the, um, inappropriate Chia Pet we had growing in our dorm room.

So, it’s not surprising that it took me until Summer of 2012 to finally give in to the maple-bacon craze.  (Hey, I’m only about two years behind, right?)

I figured Hubs deserved a decadent breakfast for Father’s Day since his birthday meals were pretty much a bust.  Plus, we’d saved all those calories by throwing out the cheesecake… so ooey-gooey maple bacon it was.

(Plus it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions.  Who knew I’d be just as bad at remembering delicious foods to make, than if I’d resolved to work out?)

The Recipe:

Maple Bacon Biscuits, adapted slightly from Eat, Play, Love

Syrup

1/2 lb bacon, cooked until medium brown

1/3 c brown sugar

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c maple syrup

2 T melted butter

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9” round pan (a springform pan is helpful but not required).  Chop the cooked bacon into bite size pieces and then combine with the remaining syrup ingredients.  Stir until thoroughly combined and spread over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

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Biscuits

2 c all-purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1 t salt

1/4 c shortening

2 T butter

3/4+ c low-fat buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together.  Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry dough blender.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk.  Gently blend the dry ingredients into the buttermilk forming a ball of dough.  Add additional buttermilk as needed – one teaspoon at a time.  Drop oversized tablespoons of the biscuit dough over the syrup in the pan until covered. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 475 degrees and then turn the oven off.  Leave the biscuits in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove the biscuits from the oven and immediately turn the pan upside down onto a serving platter. Lift off the pan and scrape any remaining syrup over the biscuits.  Pull apart to serve.  Best served warm.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Okay, let’s just go over the main ingredients again… we have maple syrup, we have bacon, and we have homemade biscuits.  Is there anyone out there that thinks this is a bad idea?  I mean seriously – when you take several very tasty items and put them together, of course you are going to end up with something exponentially amazing.

You need a close up?

I thought so.

Anyways, I think I ended up using a little more bacon than called for, but really, not a bad thing.  The combination of the sweet maple-y sauce with the salty bacon and butter-y biscuits… wow!  It certainly perked us all up first thing in the morning.

(I also have to add the stand-out ingredient for me was the biscuits.  We all absolutely loved them – and the next time we have a down-home meal, they’re going on the menu for sure.)

Maybe there’s actually something to all these culinary trends… 😉

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Be sure to enter my giveaway for a Williams-Sonoma gift card – go to this post for more information.  🙂

Sheepherder Bread Rolls

I think I may have mentioned the base recipe before.

In fact, I do believe I’m mentioned it twice.

Mostly because this is in fact the best bread recipe ever.  (It comes from my grandma – how can it not be amazing?)

It’s not difficult, and obviously easily adaptable for many things.

(Like these.)

The Recipe:

Sheepherder Bread Rolls, adapted from my grandma’s recipe

1 1/2 c very hot water

1/4 c butter

1/4 c sugar

1 1/4 t salt

1 packages active dry yeast

approx. 4 c bread flour, unsifted

oil

In a large bowl, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt.  Stir until the butter melts and let cool to warm.  Stir in yeast, cover, and set in a warm place until bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and beat with a heavy-duty mixer or a wooden spoon to make a thick batter.  With a spoon, stir in enough flour, about 1 1/2+ cups, to make a thick dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Turn dough over in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Divide dough into 12 to 15 equal pieces, depending on the size roll you wish.  Roll into balls, smooth side on top.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let rise another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I love a recipe that I’ve mostly made before, with just a tweak to make it new again.  Mostly because I go into it completely confident in the results.

And I needed the confidence this time.

These rolls were not just for my immediate family… they were for the extended family and guests.  Yep, I was making them for a dinner party.

Thank goodness everything went smoothly, since I made them right before everyone arrived.

And you can’t beat the smell of fresh bread when you walk in the door.

Anyways, I’m pretty sure these were a hit – and some people even went back for seconds!

Who could blame them?  These are just as good as the original Sheepherder Bread recipe… sweet, yeasty, and perfect when served warm with a dab of butter.  They definitely take me to my happy place.

And they’ll take you to yours, too, I guarantee it!

Happy Wednesday!

(This is post 199… coming up next, a giveaway!)