Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls

Ahhh…cinnamon rolls. One of my most favorite breakfasts.  But, I don’t make them too often mostly because of the time they take to prepare. You know, all the waiting for the rising, makes cinnamon rolls more of a brunch fare. We usually have a light breakfast, while waiting for the cinnamon rolls. But, when I do make them, the time we wait is always worth it.  These rolls are the big, Cinnabon-at-the-mall-style cinnamon rolls.  I  always have a hard time passing them up, but they are so expensive usually I leave with just the Mochalatta chill.  I mean, one can only have so much willpower. Besides, I need the caffeine. So I tell myself anyways.

So, I started these rolls at 7:30am and we sat down to eat them at 10:30am.  This explains why the photo is of a half pan of rolls. NO ONE was going to wait any longer for photos. My husband, Justin, and I loved them.  But, my kids wouldn’t eat them.  They only eat the ones in the blue can, but with my homemade frosting only.  Even they have standards.  I’ll admit, I like those too. I’m no food snob. They are great in a pinch and something I know everyone will eat when I don’t feel like fighting the please-eat-something fight.  Ugh, oh well, more for me.  I ate one for breakfast everyday that week and they were delicious, just 1 minute in the microwave.   These cinnamon rolls bake up tall, with a crisp exterior and tender interior.  The cream cheese frosting is just plain amazing.  It is really thick and cheesecake-like. In fact, my daughter Sammie, after not eating her cinnamon roll, took the frosting bowl and was about to eat it like oatmeal before I grabbed it from her.  This is the same kid who only eats the frosting off her doughnut. Who does that?

Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 large rolls

1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until ~105 degrees F.   I used the microwave

Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer.   Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar.   Stir into the milk.   Let stand until foamy, ~5 minutes.

Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour.  Mix well.  Knead with the dough hook on medium for ~4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl.  Cover with a damp towel.  Let rise in a warm place ~1 hour or until dough has nearly doubled in size.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Mix well with a spoon, spatula or even your hands.

Lightly flour your work surface (I used a pastry mat) and rolling-pin.  Roll the dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle,  ~1/4 inch thick.

Brush the dough with 1/3 cup melted butter.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter.

Roll the dough up starting with the longer side.  Cut into 12 rolls.   I cut the log in half, then each half in half.  Then you have 4 even pieces to cut into 3.  This way you get even sized rolls.

Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with Pam. Arrange the 12 rolls in the dish.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

While the rolls rise, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

While the rolls bake, make the frosting.  Beat together the cream cheese, soft butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread the frosting on the rolls while they are still warm.

Source:  Cate’s World Kitchen; originally from All-Recipes

Beer-Batter Cheese Bread

This month for What’s Baking, the theme quick breads was chosen by Jenna at Jenna’s Cooking Journey.  Sometimes, I have a little trouble with yeast or I don’t have time to wait for my dough to rise.  So, the beauty of quick breads is that they don’t use yeast, there is no rising time and you have homemade bread in under an hour.  Fabulous!  I don’t do a lot of savory baking, since we prefer sweets in my house.  But when I was looking for a quick bread recipe, the beer-batter cheese bread caught my eye.  My husband isn’t a big sweets guy, but he sure loves cheese and beer. 😀   So when I saw this bread, I immediately thought of him and how much he would love it.

To make the batter, you mix together the dry ingredients and with a light hand, mix in the wet ingredients. That’s it.  I am telling you, this batter will be ready before the oven is even preheated. How great is that?  Before baking, the bread is brushed with butter, which I was a bit nervous about thinking it might get too dark, even burn. But, as usual, America’s Test Kitchen knows what they are doing and the butter gave the crust it’s beautiful golden color.  After impatiently waiting the recommended hour for it to cool (okay I only waited a half hour), I cut a slice, put it in the toaster oven and slathered it with butter.  I was surprised how much this tasted like a yeast bread because of the beer.  I love the flecks of gruyere cheese you can see in the crust and on the inside the cheese completely melts into the bread, giving it a wonderful tang.  Beer. Cheese. Bread.  In under an hour.  I mean really, need I say more?  😀

Beer-Batter Cheese Bread

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder  preferably aluminum-free
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/4 cups beer    preferably mild-tasting ales, lagers, and pilsners  (dark beers will be too bitter).  I used Coors Light.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon of melted butter to brush on top.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 375F. Grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. WS goldtouch pans come in this size and they are fabulous.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper until well mixed.  Stir in the beer and 4 tablespoons melted butter until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or your bread will be tough and dense.

Scrape the really thick batter into the greased loaf pan and smooth the top. Brush lightly with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, ~40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour before serving.

Yield: one 81/2 x 4 1/2 in loaf

Source:  The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Flour Bakery’s Famous Banana Bread

It’s that time again where I have a bunch of brown bananas sitting on my counter, seemingly growing browner by the minute if I don’t finally go and bake something with them.  On most days I would look for a bar or cake recipe, you know, something different.  But, there is something comforting about plain old banana bread and I felt like I could use that today.  Hmmm…what recipe to try is always the question.  I have heard that Flour Bakery makes a mean banana bread.  After all, it must be called Famous Banana Bread for a reason, right?  Everything I have made from the Flour Bakery cookbook has been delicious, so I decided to go with it.

I love to make quick breads because, I guess as the name implies, they are quick. 😀 No yeast and no waiting for dough to rise.  Nope, you just mix your batter, pour it into the pan and pop it into the oven.  It is so easy, that I had the batter mixed and the bread baked while Alex took his morning nap.  Heck, I even had time to take pictures before he was woken up by our dog, who apparently decided Alex had slept enough and plowed through his bedroom door.  I mean, what the heck Walter?  You don’t even like the baby, unless he is eating and dropping food as you wait impatiently below his high chair.  Sorry to get off track, but I am still not happy about that.  Back to the bread. What you end up with is a delicious, moist (Ugh. I hate that word, but I can’t think of another word to describe it) bread packed with banana flavor, just waiting to be slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar.  Delicious. I can see why it is famous. ;D

Flour Bakery’s Famous Banana Bread

Yield: one 9 x 5 loaf

1 1/2 cups  (210 grams) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (230 grams) sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup (100 grams) canola oil

3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/2 cups mashed/340 grams)

2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream   I used sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup (75 grams) walnut halves, toasted and chopped   I omitted

Position rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 325 F.  Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat sugar and eggs on medium x 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

On low, slowly drizzle in oil.  Don’t pour it all in at once. You want to pour it in over 1 minute, to keep all the air you just beat into the egg-sugar mixture.  Add the mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Continue to mix on low just until combined.

Using a spatula, fold in dry ingredients and nuts (if using) just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts evenly distributed.  Pour into the greased loaf pan and smooth top. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until golden on top and the center springs back when pressed.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then pop out of the pan to finish cooling.

The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp up to 3 days.  Or, it can be well wrapped and frozen up to 2 weeks.

Source: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe

English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread

My husband isn’t a sweet breakfast sort of guy.  I mean if I make French toast or pancakes, he wouldn’t turn them down or anything.  But, he would much rather have a savory breakfast sandwich any day.  Justin’s first choice of bread for his sandwich would be a pretzel roll, with an English muffin as a close second.  But, it can’t be just any English muffin. Nope, it has to be Bays, definitely not a Thomas.  Now, I know I cannot be the only one who hates the Bays’ packaging.  If you remove a few muffins, you can roll the end of the package over to sort of seal it.  Or, you can do as I usually do and throw them all in a Ziploc bag.  I don’t know why, but this drives me so crazy every time I open a package! 😀  Anyways, to surprise my husband, I wanted to try my hand at making homemade English muffins. But, then I saw this bread recipe.  Perfect. I get the same taste and texture of English muffins, while omitting the shaping and frying steps.

I, like many bakers, get a bit intimidated by yeast. But, I have gotten better with practice, a digital scale for flour and a thermometer to measure water temperature.  Looking at the recipe, it didn’t look too much harder than a quick bread, except you need to allot time for 2 rises.  It wasn’t hard at all.  Really. This is a great bread to tackle your fear of yeast!  The bread bakes up with a beautiful crispy crust, which envelopes the chewy interior of nooks and crannies, just waiting to be filled with melted butter.  I enjoyed my bread toasted with butter (real please) and some strawberry jelly.  My husband had his favorite egg, cheese and bacon breakfast sandwich and ate some more as toast.  I think he ate a whole loaf by himself.  It’s a good thing this recipe makes two!

English Muffin Bread

Yield:  2 loaves

Cornmeal  (for dusting)

5 cups (27 1/2 ounces) bread flour

4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups whole milk, heated to 120 degrees

Grease two 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan. Dust with cornmeal.  Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir in hot milk until combined, ~1 minute. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place for 30 minutes, or until dough is bubbly and has doubled.

Stir dough and divide between prepared loaf pans.  Push the dough into the corners with greased rubber spatula. The pans should be about two-thirds full. Cover the pans with greased plastic.  Let the dough rise in warm place until it reaches edge of pans, ~ 30 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Discard plastic and put the pans in the oven. Bake until bread is well browned and registers 200 degrees, ~ 30 minutes, rotating and switching pans halfway through baking. Turn bread out onto wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Slice, toast, and serve.

Source: Cook’s Country April/May 2012

Lemon Tea Bread

Whenever I have leftover brown bananas, I make banana bread.  So, when I had leftover lemons, why not do the same?  While this is called a bread, to me, the bread itself tasted more like a lemon scented pound cake.  The cake is moist and buttery, dotted with lemon zest.  Then, the glaze adds a nice jolt of lemon flavor, as well as sweetness.  I love how the lemon zest sugar looks on top of the bread and how it gives it more lemon taste and some texture.  Similar to pound cake, this bread tastes better the next day.  It becomes more moist and seems to absorb some of the flavor from the glaze.  I have never had Starbuck’s Iced Lemon Pound Cake, but a few of the online reviews mentioned that this bread tasted similar, but it is even better.  I’ll have to test this declaration the next time I go to Starbucks.  Regardless, this bread, cake, pound cake, whatever you want to call it, is delicious.

Lemon Tea Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon rind, divided

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Beat softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon rind. Spoon batter into greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour (mine only took 45 minutes…so keep a careful eye on it at about 40 minutes.)  or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth; spoon evenly over top of bread, letting excess drip down sides. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon lemon rind and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; sprinkle on top of bread.

Source:  Southern Living October 2004

French Toast

One of my favorite things to cook is breakfast.  I especially love French toast because it is so quick and easy, requiring only basic pantry ingredients.  I can use my large griddle and get six pieces of French toast cooked at once, so we can all sit down to eat at the same time.  Weeknights can be crazy with my husband or I working late, so we often don’t get to eat dinner together.  But, on Sunday mornings, we are all home for breakfast.  I jump at this chance to catch up on the week and spend some quality time together.

This French toast is a bit unusual in that the coating has flour in it, making it more like a thin pancake batter. I was skeptical at first because I had always made French toast with just milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  But, I should know by now to always trust America’s Test Kitchen. Again, they did not let me down.  I like this toast with just butter and powdered sugar, so the subtle vanilla flavor of the batter really comes through.  If you insist on syrup, maybe you can just dip your bacon or breakfast sausage in it?  😀

French Toast

1 large egg

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp sugar

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

4-5 slices day old challah (3/4 inch thick) or 6-8 slices day old high quality sandwich bread

unsalted butter for frying

Directions:

Begin heating a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat or griddle.

Beat the egg lightly in a shallow bowl or pie plate.  Whisk in melted butter.  Whisk in the milk and vanilla, and finally the sugar, flour and salt.  Continue to whisk until smooth.  Soak the bread 40 seconds a side for challah and 30 seconds a side for sandwich bread. Do not over soak.  Pick up the bread and allow excess batter to run off.

Swirl 1 Tbsp of butter on skillet/griddle.  Cook in a single layer until brown on the first side (about 1 minute and 45 seconds) and 1 minute on the second.  Repeat for new batch.

Source:  The New Best Recipe

Almost Famous Breadsticks


Olive Garden often gets a bum rap, probably because people don’t find their food to be authentic Italian. While this may be true, there are a few things that Olive Garden makes really well. Topping my list would be their pasta e fagioli soup, alfredo sauce, lemon cream cake and their breadsticks.  Oh, the breadsticks. I can’t tell you how much I love them dipped in alfredo sauce. I could just have breadsticks and sauce for lunch and be totally happy. But, since that would be frowned upon, I usually get soup and salad to better round out my meal.  They are just so soft (unless you get a basket of overly brown ones- hate that!) with just the right amount of greasiness from the butter and a salty garlic topping.  I must say, they are craveable!  With three children, it is often difficult and expensive to go out to dinner.  So, when the craving hits, I can just make their breadsticks at home.   It’s really is easy, only taking about 2 hours, start to finish, and only 30 minutes of that is active time- making the dough, kneading, shaping, and basting with butter.  The recipe makes a large batch, 16 breadsticks.  But, they are so good, you really won’t have trouble getting rid of them.

Almost-Famous Breadsticks

Yield: 16 breadsticks

Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water to bloom the yeast (110°-115°F)

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fine salt

1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

 Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (adjust by taste)

Pinch of dried oregano (I omitted)

To make the dough: Place 1/4 cup warm water into mixer bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt and 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water, mixing with the paddle until a slightly sticky dough forms, 5 minutes.

Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until smooth and soft, 3 minutes. Roll into a 2-foot-long log; cut into 16  1.5 inch long pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a 7-inch-long breadstick; arrange them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and let them rise in a warm spot until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

To make the topping: Brush the breadsticks with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the melted butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. While they bake, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the garlic powder and oregano . Brush the warm breadsticks with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the flavored salt. I serve them with alfredo sauce for dipping (from Annie’s Eats).  Enjoy!

Source: Food Network

Helpful Hints:

  • For the topping: Be sure to use garlic powder (not garlic salt) or your breadsticks will be too salty. And Kosher salt, not fine salt, for the same reason.
  • I like to use more butter than the recipe states, but feel free to adjust to your taste.
  • I like my breadsticks barely brown because I like them super soft. But, if you like your breadsticks more golden and crispy, you can just cook them longer than the 15 minutes. You might need to baste them with more butter to get them to brown to your liking.
  • I use a thermometer to double check the water temperature before pouring it into the yeast. There is nothing worse than having water so hot that it kills your yeast and ruins the recipe.  The back of the yeast packet will state preferred water temperatures if you bloom the yeast (let the yeast and water mingle until it foams) or if you add it directly into the dry ingredients.

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

I have three super brown, almost black, bananas sitting on the counter.  My husband, Justin, has used almost all his willpower to not toss them in the garbage because he thinks they look gross and rotten.  While they may be gross for eating, they are perfect baking.  Justin threw my bananas away once and when I went to make some banana cupcakes, I was sad to see that they were gone. The problem is, it’s not like you can go to the store and buy brown bananas. No, you must wait a week for them to reach just the proper ripeness the browner the better.  So, I had to change my plans. That day we made an agreement that only I am to throw away bananas, no matter how brown, gooey, yucky they may look.  Problem solved.

So, I have these three bananas that are riding a thin line between baking perfection and rotten, so I must use them now or never.  Since I hate throwing food away, I decided to make banana bread using Todd English’s recipe from The Olives Dessert Table .  I always like recipes with melted butter for both great flavor and because 9 times out of 10 I forget to soften butter. I also love the addition of cinnamon to banana cake and bread, so I was thinking I would just add some cinnamon to the batter.  But, then I came across Lovin’ From the Oven‘s Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread, and I decided to add cinnamon sugar to the middle and top of Todd’s bread recipe.  The banana bread was really moist and full of banana flavor. I really liked how the cinnamon swirl looked and the crispy crust the sugar created on the top. Still to this day, my favorite way to eat banana bread is the same way my mom made it for me as kid and that is warm, slathered with butter and a sprinkle of sugar.  Have you ever tried this? If not, you should. It is delicious.

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Swirl:

Yield: one 8 or 9 inch loaf

Bread:

3 to 4 overripe bananas “the nastier the better”

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Swirl and topping: (mix together in a small bowl)

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 8 or 9 inch loaf pan. (I used 9×5)

Beat bananas and sugar in mixer bowl with paddle or whisk attachment for 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter, eggs, and vanilla, beating well and scraping down sides with each addition. Add the flour, salt and soda, and mix just until combined.

Pour half of the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the top. Carefully pour and spread the rest of the batter, sprinkling the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top. Bake until golden brown and firm in the center, about 1 hour. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a rack.

Sources: Banana bread from The Olives Dessert Table and cinnamon swirl/topping from Lovin’ from the Oven

Helpful Hints:

  • Halfway through the bake time, I noticed the sides were browning too quickly, so I covered just the sides with aluminum foil.
  • Using a lighter colored loaf pan would also help to reduce browning.
  • I lined the bottom with parchment and sprayed the sides with Pam for baking for easy removal.
  • This recipe makes more cinnamon sugar than I thought was needed, but use as much as you want, according to your taste.
%d bloggers like this: