Monday, October 29, 2012

October's Apron Give-Away & Treats for the Grands

First, I apologize for not planning this better.  I'm flying out tomorrow to be with my grandson and hindsight, I should have drawn the name a few days ago so I could have mailed it before I leave.  Anyway, without further ado...the winner of this month's apron is Knatolee!  Please email me an address where I can send your gift with love...hopefully before I leave, but if not, I'm only gone a week:-)

Today, I've been doing some last minute baking to send a box of goodies to Maddie (hoping they arrive without too much delay due to the hurricane.  Simple recipes; one from KAF for Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini Reece's Pieces.

I just received a shipment from King Arthur Flour with some new products.  One was Swedish Pearl Sugar, so when I saw this recipe on their website, I thought it would be perfect to bake.
Mix up the easy dough and roll tops in the Pearl Sugar
Once baked they reminded me of Crackle Cookies! 
I found these cute boxes at the packaging store, added some stamped leaves and boxed up 4 cookies!
Mini Reece's Pieces--perfect colors for Fall and Halloween!
Big Cookies!
I could get 2 in each box with this size cookie 
Now, to the post office to get these mailed, then, I need to pack and get things organized.
Sending loving thoughts and prayers to all those in the path of the storm, XOXO

This is the journey of The Sisterhood of The Traveling Susan Apron so far.

From Susan (the apron maker) at My Mother's Apron Strings in Redmond, Washington to
Meggie (the sisterhood initiator) at Meggie on the Prairie in Texas to
Elaine at Pear Tree Log in England to
Scarlet at Tales from Beyond the Nook in England to
Jane at The Maple Syrup Mob in Ontario, Canada to
Deb at Just Cats in Ontario, Canada
Zaza at Just Sayin' in Ontario, Canada to
Linda at A La Carte in Georgia
Diane at Lavender Dreams in Ocala, Florida to
Marcia at The Shop Around the Corner in Miami, Florida

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gingerbread Doughnuts & Ghostly Holes

Doughnuts have been a part of my Halloween treats ever since I got married.  Before our girls were born, we'd invite family and friends over for a buffet and in addition to caramel apples, sugar cookie ghosts and black cats, doughnuts were the highlight of my baking for the dessert table.  Yeast doughnuts back then were my favorite, but over the years, I've become a cake doughnut lover, especially since they can be baked.

Gingerbread was on my mind after spending a couple of hours Skyping with my grandson yesterday.  Lately, both he and Maddie want me to tell them "haunted" stories with dark forests and Trolls, and how magically we get to the castle in the meadow.
Coming to the forest edge, Princess Maddie and Spiderman Ari called out to the troll that they want to enter. "What can we give you to let us pass through?" The big, green Troll answers, "What have you baked today?"  They tell him, "we have gingerbread doughnuts!"  " can come through the forest if you give me some."

 A pathway appears and the two find there way back to the castle...Mimi's house!  The end.
The house smelled just wonderful with the spices and molasses; drawing in any Trick or Treaters around.  The new pan I bought makes the most yummy holes, Maddie's favorites.  These are rolled in confectioners' sugar, but cinnamon/sugar or even a glaze would be awesome too.

Doughnut holes or Cake Pops can be made in this pan
Gingerbread Doughnuts & Ghostly Holes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 3/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Spray doughnut pan and round ball pan with baking spray.  If you don't have either, you can use a miniature muffin pan.
Heat the water and molasses in a 2 cup measure in the microwave for 40 seconds.  Pour over the softened butter  in a bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the paddle attachment mix on low to combine. 
Add the egg and sugar and mix again--don't worry if it looks curdled.

Add the spices, flour, baking soda and salt with the buttermilk and mix on low.  Remove from the stand mixer and use a spatula to combine it thoroughly; you don't want to overmix.

Use a small scoop to measure batter in the round ball pan and a larger one for the doughnut pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 13 - 15 minutes, testing with a wooden skewer to check for doneness.
Allow to cool.  For the doughnut holes, I melted 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and place about 1 cup confectioners' in another bowl.  Dip the holes in the butter, then, roll in the confectioners' sugar.

For the larger doughnuts, I mixed up my standard glaze: 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1 T Light Karo syrup, 2-3 tablespoons of hot water and 1/2 tsp. Orange Juice Powder.
Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and spread with an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle with colored sugar.
Wouldn't these be nice on a stormy night with a mug of hot chocolate...I bet the Troll would love that too! Enjoy!!

(BTW--On Monday, I will be drawing the name for the October Give-Away because I will be flying out on Tuesday to visit my grandson. )

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpernickle Kaiser Rolls

Baking bread is one of my favorite tasks of the week.  With rainy days, suggesting pots of soup, and of course Thanksgiving around the corner, new recipes are spinning in my head.  Inspired by a new product I came across, of course, King Arthur Flour, Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor makes it so easy to bake one of my favorite breads without the extra fuss it usually takes.

I still remember that early Thanksgiving morning, in 1957, when my mother said to me, "how about you making the rolls this year."  How excited I was to have this task; I had meticulously watched her do so many times before and felt the confidence she had in me to accomplish it.  I've had a love affair with yeast breads ever since.  Her roll recipe, that she made up, was most always formed into her favorite shape, "toad in a hole," but I also like to do Parker House or cloverleaf as my signature.

Today, I decided to turn my dough into Kaiser rolls--a favorite of my hubby's.  He's told the story, over and over again, about buying a dozen Kaiser rolls to eat in the car on the way home from his grandparent's home in the Bronx...all by himself! 

Kaiser rolls were invented in Vienna, Austria and thought to be named in honor of Emperor Franz Joseph.  The rolls have a distinctive 5-segment pattern separated by curved superficial cuts from the center.  Years ago, I came across a Kaiser roll press, but I will show you how you can accomplish the characteristic without it.

Pumpernickle Kaiser Rolls
6 cups King Arthur bread flour
1/3 cup Pumpernickle Artisan Bread Flavor
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. onion salt
2 T granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 pkgs (2T) active dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
1 5/8 - 1 3/4 cups additional water
1/2 tsp. honey

Quick Shine (or a beaten egg white with 1 tsp. water added)
Favorite Topping (I used an Artisan Bread Topping that included Flax, toasted sesame, black caraway, midget sunflowers, poppy, and anise seeds)

Start by "proofing" the yeast in the 1/2 cup of very warm water and add the honey.  Whisk to combine.  Allow to set about 5-7 minutes until foamy.
In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add the flour, pumpernickle flavor, salt, onion salt, sugar, and oil and mix to combine.  While the mixer is running on speed #2, add the proofed yeast and additional water, about 1/2 cup at a time until the dough starts pulling away from the side.  Knead, using the dough hook an addition 2-3 minutes.
 Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and knead again--the dough should be smooth and soft--like a "baby's butt" as my mother would say.

Place in a large bowl, sprayed with cooking spray (or plastic dough container) to allow dough to raise.
About 45 minutes later (give or take) the dough should be doubled.  Turn out onto the board and divide into 12 sections.

The trick in making your own "Kaiser-looking" rolls without the press is to roll the dough into a rope.
Bring the two ends together, overlapping, and twist each section about the dough.  Join the ends together and press to seal.

Alternatively, with the press, the dough would look like this:
Place rolls on a baking sheet, spray with baking oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

 Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Allow the rolls to rest while the oven is preheating.  When the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap, spray with the Quick Shine or brush with beaten egg white.  Add seed topping, if using and bake for 18 minutes.

 The heartiness of the pumpernickle fits our weather, although it's nothing like my family (and friends) will be experiencing on the east coast with the Frankinstorm!  Stay safe--Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brussels--Homemade Version

I am my mother's daughter and as much as I love the flavors of Fall--pumpkin, cranberries and apples, I still think chocolate is the best comfort food there is.  If you know your cookies, Brussels is one that is made by Pepperidge Farms.  I go by the rule, if I want a cookie, but I don't feel like baking, then, the only cookie brand I will buy is Pepperidge Farms:-))

When I lived in Connecticut, the Pepperidge Farms' factory was in the next town over from us and believe me, the aroma was wonderful.  Brussels, along with Milanos are my weakness, so when I came across this recipe, by one of my favorite cookbook authors, I had to make them.

Lara Ferroni's last book I bought was Doughnuts, Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home.

She has a new book that will be out later this month called Real Snacks, Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without all the Junk!
These are not only outrageously good, but healthy too...if that's possible for this decadent treat.

Homemade Brussels
 (Click on the title for the recipe!)
Oat Bran, along with White/Whole Wheat flour
The dough is soft and somewhat sticky
Use a scoop that will give you a 1-inch ball
Place about 2-inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet
Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool, then spread with a filling of bittersweet chocolate with 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream
Sandwich the cookie with a "like" size
The cookies tasted wonderful and I'm thinking these will definitely be a part of my Cookie Boxes for Christmas.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cranberry~Pecan Coffee Cake

I'm not one to rush through the seasons...or the holidays, but when I was out and about this weekend, I saw several stores with their wrapping papers and ornaments for Christmas out already--Geeze!!  I guess I should have expected it since Halloween candy and costumes have been out since Labour Day!

At our house, we didn't really get into the spirit of Christmas until after Thanksgiving; that was the rule:-))  Thanksgiving was a big deal at our house with preparations for dinner starting at least a week ahead.  I may have a lot of fancy gadgets, double ovens, food processors, stand mixer, etc., but let me tell you I have helped my mom prepare this large meal in a kitchen that was barely a 10' x 12' room with none of that and it was memorable.

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, I decided to create a coffee cake that would be perfect to serve to your family either the morning of, or if you have company staying over, the morning after.  My mom and I made up cranberry and pumpkin breads the day before so everyone could have a substantial breakfast without needing to come into the kitchen to make it.  (The night before, we baked pies!)

In 2009, when I was in Kentucky during Kelly's chemo regiment, I flew to my sister's in Virginia for Thanksgiving.  (Our oldest daughter, Erin wanted to be with Kelly during Thanksgiving and I wanted them to have precious time alone together).  Also, I had just reconnected with my sister after 13 years, when Kelly and I made a road trip in June to her house.  She made the traditional cranberry~nut bread, but now has some dietary restrictions and I think I've come up with a delicious way for her to enjoy this coffee cake without worry.  I baked it in a 10-cup ring pan, but you could adapt this recipe to make two loaves just as easily.

Cranberry~Pecan Coffee Cake
Streusel topping:
4T + 1 1/2 tsp. King Arthur all-purpose flour
6 T granulated sugar
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup pecans 

Using a food processor, combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl and pulse until the pecans are finely ground.  Add the butter and pulse again to combine.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 10-cup ring cake pan with baking spray and set aside.

1 3/4 cups pecans (toasted in a 350F-degree oven for 8 minutes)
1 1/2 cups + 2 T granulated sugar

Cool toasted pecans, then, combine in the food processor bowl, along with the granulated sugar and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 1T unsalted butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then, add the pecan/sugar mixture and stir.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, milk and melted butter and stir to combine.

3 cups fresh cranberries
2 T confectioners' sugar

Once again, using the food processor, combine the cranberries and confectioners' sugar and pulse until the cranberries are a medium chop.  Add them to the batter and stir again.  

Pour batter into the prepared pan(s) and top with the streusel topping.

Bake in the preheated oven for 38-40 minutes until a tester comes out cleanly when poked in the center.

Allow coffee cake to cool for about 10 minutes, then place a plate, covered with wax paper, over top and invert.  

Place your choice of serving platters over the bottom of the cake and invert once more so the streusel is on top again.

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp. Orange juice powder
1-2 T very warm water

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and drizzle over the top of the streusel.

Times flies, but having baking plans will help the hectic season that is about to befall us in November.  This coffee cake will make a wonderful morning treat or serve it at "tea time." Enjoy! 

Congratulations to Susan from "Writing Straight from the Heart"--your name was chosen for the Sunflower pendant necklace!  Please email me your address so I can mail this gift to you, XOXO