Monday, March 30, 2009

Orange Cinnamon Sweet Rolls

My youngest daughter is getting married in three weeks and I'll have people I need to feed breakfast to on Saturday, the day of the wedding. I've been trying to get ready ahead of time so I won't be frantic on the wedding weekend.

This weekend in preparation for the Saturday breakfast needs, I made orange cinnamon sweet rolls from

Here are the ingredients:
3 T warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp sugar (I used honey in place of the sugar).
5 - 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T finely grated fresh orange zest
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup warm milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing bowl
4 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes

Stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp honey in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. While yeast is proofing, whisk 4 cups flour with zest, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

Add milk, vanilla, butter, and remaining 1/2 cup honey to yeast and then mix at medium speed until combined. Beat in 3 of the eggs, one at a time and then add the orange cinnamon flour and mix until well combined.

Change to dough hook and mix at medium-low speed, adding more flour (1 - 1 1/2 cups) a little at a time, until you have a slightly sticky dough, but smooth, in about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to counter and knead by hand until smooth and elastic (about 3 minutes). Form dough into ball and transfer to large buttered bowl, turning dough to coat with butter.

Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise until doubled (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours).

Turn dough out onto work surface and knead several times. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. If I had done this, the rolls would have been enormous - I cut the dough into fourths, and then cut each fourth into four parts. I made the recipe twice, so I had 32 rolls when I was done.

Roll each roll into a smooth ball, rolling between your hands or on the counter. Arrange balls about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet on a 17X14 inch cookie sheet.

Cover with damp kitchen towel and allow to rise about 1 - 1 1/4 hours until doubled.

Whisk together remaining egg with 2 tsp water in a small bowl. Snip a 1 inch X in the top of each roll. Brush rolls lightly with egg wash and bake until golden (about 10 minutes for the size I made).

Here's the snip:

These rolls were good out of the oven but my oldest daughter said that she kept thinking they needed some kind of sugar coating. They call for serving with orange butter:
1 stick of salted butter and 1/3 cup orange marmalade pulsed in a food processor.

I went out into the kitchen and made up a honey glaze.

1/4 cup soft butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg white
3 T honey

I painted this onto the rolls. They are beautiful and delicious. I put them in the freezer to stay for the three weeks until the wedding. I'll probably make the orange butter to serve with them, but they are delicious with the glaze.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Colossal Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

This is my mother's recipe:

1 cup butter (salted butter works best for this recipe)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat)
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 bag Ghiradelli chocolate chips (note: the recipe actually calls for 1 1/2 cups raisins, but we always use chocolate chips instead)

Cream the butter and the sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients (Dylan is working hard to do this with his whisk)

Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Add raisins (or in our case - chocolate chips)

Dylan carefully poured in the chocolate chips.

These are supposed to be "colossal" cookies - very large and baked for 15 - 20 minutes at 350. We baked them in my Thermador oven set for convection at 350. We made the cookies about 1 1/2 inch balls and baked them for about 10 minutes.

Although this is not a freezer cookie, my mother freezes this dough all the time. So we rolled most of the dough into 2 inch diameter rolls and wrapped them in waxed paper, bagged them in a ziploc with baking instructions. They are in my downstairs freezer, waiting to be baked the week of the wedding in April.
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Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies

My youngest daughter is getting married next month and we are baking and freezing cookie dough for cookies to put in bags for the out of town guests. We mixed up three kinds in the last few days. Each time we baked a test batch of about a dozen cookies (who could blame us?) because we thought we needed to make sure they really were good.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of our results in baking these delicious cookies. I got the recipe from epicurious. Trust me, our dozen cookies looked exactly like the picture from Gourmet and they tasted fantastic.

What I did get were these wonderful pictures of Dylan licking the beater after the chocolate treats had been all mixed up!

Getting to bake with this wonderful grandson is a treat for me!

I rolled the dough into rolls about 2 inches in diameter, wrapped them in waxed paper, put the rolls in a ziploc with a label of baking instructions. I'll thaw and bake them right before the wedding in April.
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Ciabatta Bread

This weekend Dylan and I baked a lot. We made sourdough French bread, but I'm not thrilled with it and will wait to post about French bread. We baked a sweet orange flavored focaccia. And we baked chocolate chip cookies.

We baked the rustic Ciabatta bread in the March/April 09 issue of Cooks Illustrated. It's pictured above. I'm posting a link but unless you subscribe to Cooks Illustrated online, you'll not be able to access this recipe (and their video) after April.

It turned out great and both loaves were eaten in two days!

Instead of the Biga (1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/8 tsp of instant yeast, and 1/2 cup water at room temperature, I used 1 cup of my sourdough starter mixed with 1/8 tsp of yeast.)

The dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 cup water at room temperature
1/4 cup milk at room temperature.

Place the Biga and dough ingredients in the mixing bowl. Use the paddle attachment to mix on low until a shaggy dough forms at about one minute of mixing. Then mix on medium-low until the dough becomes a uniform mass on the paddle - about 4 - 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead on medium about 10 minutes.

Put dough in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise about an hour, until doubled.

When dough has doubled, spray cooking spray on a bowl scraper and fold the dough over itself, turning the bowl 90 degrees each time for 8 folding operations. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 more minutes. Repeat the folding and turning, replace the wrap and let rise yet another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450, preferably with a baking stone in it.

Cut two 12 X 6 inch pieces of parchment paper and flour them well. Flour counter well and turn dough out onto it. Cut dough into two parts with a bench knife. Flour hands well and press dough into 12 X 6 inch shape. Fold the shorter sides of the dough toward center, overlapping them like a letter to form a 7X4 inch loaf. Repeat with other half of the dough.

Transfer each loaf seam down to parchment sheets, dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Slide parchment with loaves onto wooden pizza peel. Using floured fingers, poke surface of each loaf to form 10X6 rectangle. Spray the loaves with water.

Slide loaves with parchment onto baking stone and bake spraying loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time.

Transfer to a wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature.

I liked this recipe but remember an even better ciabatta from Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery cookbook. I'm going to try it the next time I'm in the ciabatta mood.

Delicious! Dylan ate his for the rest of the afternoon. In the picture below he kept a piece going while he played trains.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Making Dough Bunnies and Turtles with Dylan

We made rabbits and turtles today and they were both cute and delicious!

Here's the recipe, adapted from a recipe in The Book of Bread by Judith and Evan Jones (now out of print - so no link to it).

  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light cream or milk (we used 1/8 cup half and half and 1/8 cup whole milk)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel (we grated a whole orange - and used all of it - a little more than 1 tsp)
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups white flour
Put yeast in a medium bowl with warm water and honey. When dissolved add eggs, vanilla, milk/cream, salt, butter and orange peel. Beat until mixed. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of flour. Switch to dough hook and knead both in the mixer and more on the counter - about 6 minutes or so, adding flour as needed.

Let rise as in picture below for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. As you know, doughs with eggs and sugar take longer to rise than other recipes.

Divide dough into four parts. Cut parts of the dough off for ears, tails, etc. We used the bench knife for that. Shape the creatures you want and put them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. You may add raisins, pine nuts, whatever as eyes, noses, etc. Here's Dylan adding dried cherries for eyes to his turtles.

Allow the critters to rise again for about an hour or so. Then brush with an egg wash before putting into the oven. I also took a serrated sharp knife and cut a design in the turtle's "shell."

Note: You may need water to help glue the appendages to the body of the roll.

Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes. If you have thin extremities, you may need to cover them in foil as the baking proceeds.

These look cute and taste fabulous - the orange and the honey work well together to make a delicious roll/sculpture.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making Focaccia Bread with Rosemary

Years ago my mother got sourdough starter from San Francisco. It was supposedly over 100 years old at the time. She kept it going by feeding it and using it regularly. When I got out of college and was on my own, she gave me some of the starter. Now I'm a grandma and the starter is about 140 years old.

Today I made focaccia bread with the starter. The recipe won't be so easy to share because I can't give you the starter.

Many cookbooks today have recipes for short-term starters - such as mixing 1 tsp active dry yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1/4 cup of flour. Stir this together and leave it for about an hour. It should be bubbly and good to use at that time.

Here's how I made the focaccia:

  • Stir 1 tsp active dry yeast into 1 cup warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Put 3/4 cup sourdough starter in the mixing bowl.
  • Add the yeast mixture and 3 T olive oil. Stir together well.
  • Add about 3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 3 T finely chopped rosemary leaves, 2 tsp coarse sea salt.
  • Change to the dough hook when needed.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead a little by hand.
  • Put dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/4 hour.
  • Turn risen dough onto oiled cookie sheet with sides (11 X 17) and flatten it to fill the pan.
  • Allow to rise again about another hour.
  • About 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 425.
If you have a baking stone, that really helps this bread cook well. When bread has risen, use the tips of your fingers to dimple the dough.

Drizzle the bread with 2 T extra virgin olive oil and 1 to 1 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt.

Put sprigs of fresh rosemary all over the surface.

Put bread in oven and spray the oven walls with cold water from a spritzer bottle three times every three minutes during the first 10 minutes of baking.

Bake in total for about 20 - 25 minutes. During the last 10 minutes you can put the bread directly on the baking stone (I always forget to, but it crisps the bottom).

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