Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

I’ll be completely honest with y’all: I have no idea what canned cranberry sauce tastes like. I’ve never tried it before in my life. Growing up, I would always see it on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas but there was something about the mere sight of the stiff sliced rings that was off-putting to me. Why would it be called a ‘sauce’ when it resembled thin beets (which, I’ve never liked)? Plus, back then I thought it made no sense to want to eat something sweet with something as savory as turkey and dressing.

Nowadays I DO think it makes sense to eat cranberry sauce with turkey and dressing–I actually think it’s delicious…just so long as it’s homemade. Ever since I started making my own cranberry sauce it spurred a love for ALL things cranberry, specifically in baking.

I still had some fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving that I kept in the freezer and I knew that I wanted to try and do something with them for the 12 Days of Christmas series. My niece’s preschool was let out for Winter Break this past week and I wanted to make her teacher a small gift of appreciation. So, she and I made this loaf together. She’s becomes quite the good little sous chef/baker.

The first breads that I made when I was starting out baking were quick breads. They’re very easy to put together, involve no work with yeast, kneading, proofing, and are pretty hard to mess up. They store and ship well too, which makes them ideal for gift-giving at this time of year.

Cranberries and oranges are an ideal flavor combination. The sweet of the orange balances out the tart of the cranberry and vice versa. Here, the fresh cranberries are paired with both orange zest and juice. I also added a cinnamon swirl to the batter that gives it more of a ‘wintery spice flavor’. You may have noticed that I also really like adding icings to things, so there’s one of those here too. You can leave it out if you like, the bread is yummy enough all on its own to do without.

Quick bread is great all on its own alongside coffee or tea. It’s also sturdy enough to make awesome french toast and bread pudding. Do whatever you want with it, really. Just make & try it. I’m gonna go ahead and share this at the Fiesta Friday #201, co-hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. 

Stay tuned for more recipes in the 12 Days of Christmas series, I’m really hyped to share what’s to come.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Day 4: Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries 

For Topping

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 heaping teaspoons butter

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

 

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon with a whisk.

Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg and vanilla. Fold in the cranberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture, leaving it in small clumps. Sprinkle on top of the loaf. Use a knife to swirl through the top and through the middle of the loaf.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool inside pan for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine the powdered sugar with the milk and stir until it forms a thickened glaze. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle over the top of the loaf. Allow to set for about an hour until hardened.

Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Since it’s Christmas time, you guys had to know two things were going to happen: first, gingerbread was going to make an appearance in this 12 Days of Christmas series. Second, I was going to find a way to sneak a stamped cookie into it. Stamped/printed cookies are still a minor obsession of mine. I’m always up for trying out a different recipe for one, and I’m also on the lookout for cookie stamps and cutters that can give me the intricate, pretty designs that I want. Ideally, I’d just buy all the wooden Springerle molds that I wanted–and there are many.

However, as I’ve mentioned multiple times before, those suckas aren’t cheap. Nor should they be–I do own two, and I must say that you get what you pay for in quality and longevity. It’s just that wanting to build up a collection of the molds is a lot harder and more expensive to do than with a cookie stamp or cutter collection. If I wanted to widen my Intricate Stamped Cookie Collection without breaking the bank, I figured that I’d have to get creative with it.

You guys have already seen some of the fruits of that labor through my discovery that pie crust cutters could double as cookie stamps. Now, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve found yet another way to circumvent the ‘system’ of pricey Springerle molds that I just cannot afford at this time, while still getting the results that I want from my cookies. My newest solution came in one word: mooncakes. Y’all know what those are? That’s alright, I didn’t at first either.

Mooncakes are a Chinese pastry that are typically served during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The first time I saw one it caught my attention because of the intricate, beautiful design on the top of the cake and I wondered how it was made. I later found out that the design comes from moon cake molds: wooden or plastic contraptions that are designed to not just sculpt and seal the outer skin of the moon cakes, but also to imprint the pretty design on the top.

The wooden ones, like Springerle molds, aren’t inexpensive. The plastic ones however, are. I looked on Amazon and found a set of 4 moon cake molds, each with 3 different ‘plates’ that you could switch in and out.I bought the set and immediately wanted to try out the stamps on a cookie dough to see if it would give me the same pretty design as it did on the mooncakes. These were the results. Was it a worthwhile investment?

You guys tell me. I know that for now you can only comment on how they look, so I’ll spill on the actual taste.

The spices here are *very* strong. That warm, typical gingerbread smell and flavor is given a huge, added punch with the addition of both cocoa and garam masala. The aroma in the dough was so strong that I could smell these even before they were baking. You might worry that the chocolate would overpower everything else flavor-wise, but it doesn’t. Although you’re definitely going to know it’s there, in this case what it most does is enhance the other flavors; the cookies taste ‘richer’, if that makes any sense. The kick from the garam masala is going to hit your taste buds afterwards. At first you don’t taste it, then you swallow and suddenly think, “Oh wow, *there* it is!”

I love my new mooncake molds–I mean, my new cookie cutters. I love these cookies. I think y’all will love both if you choose to give them a go. DO IT. (P.S. If you’d like to find the set I bought on Amazon, it’s here) Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #201, co-hosted by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

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Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Recipe Courtesy 0f Springerle Joy

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Ingredients

  • 180 grams butter (softened)
  • 125 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 125 grams molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 50 grams cocoa
  • 350 grams (pastry or all-purpose) flour
  • pinch of salt

Special equipment: cookie stamp or cutter of choice

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, spices and cocoa with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and slightly fluffy.

Add the egg and molasses and mix until just combined. Fold in the flour mixture in batches (don’t add it all at once) until the dough comes together smoothly.

Shape into a disk and refrigerate for a few hours until slightly firm. If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze it for about 40 minutes to an hour.

Divide the dough in quarters. Keep one quarter out, while keeping the other three in the fridge as you work. Sprinkle a work surface like a pastry mat, cutting board or wax paper with flour. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and sprinkle the top with flour or powdered sugar. Dip your cookie stamp in flour or powdered sugar, then firmly press it into the dough. Remove, then cut out the cookie and remove it to a sheet pan you’ve lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you’ve cut out all the dough.

Refrigerate the sheet pan(s) of cookies overnight.

Preheat oven to 320°F. Immediately place sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on cookie size), rotating the pans halfway and checking regularly.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.

Smoky Chili Crackers

There are certain foods that I just can’t have in my house, for reasons.

When I was younger I loved the Keebler Chips Deluxe chocolate chip cookies, especially the ones with rainbow M&Ms. I could put away more than a few of those and STILL have an appetite for dinner. This was also when I had the metabolism of an Olympic athlete.

I love Waffle Crisp cereal, but I can’t let it be in my house. Why? Because I can eat half a box of Waffle Crisp handful by handful in one sitting, that’s why. I don’t even need milk. Just leave the box with me and go. Therefore, it’s not a good idea for me to have it.

There’s one other snack that although I love, I know I just don’t have the willpower to summon portion control for and just don’t buy.

Any guesses? I’ll give y’all a hint.

It’s a cracker. It comes in a red box. It also looks very similar to today’s recipe.

Yeah. Cheez-Its.

My love for Cheeze Its is especially weird in light of the fact that I…don’t like cheese in and of itself (except for on pizza, but that’s different). I don’t know, there’s just something about that salty flavor that I can’t get enough of or resist. Because I have such a hard time putting them down, I just can’t have them in the house. My salty munchie cravings I’ve found are much stronger than sweet ones.

Although most people favor sweets at Christmas, I thought it would be nice to sneak a savory recipe or two in this year’s series. This is one of them. If you’ve been following the blog this year then you’ll know I’ve put out several homemade cracker recipes. They’re easy to make and I’ve found that the results are just as good (and sometimes even better) than the ones you can buy in the store. Some flavor profiles aren’t necessarily available through store-bought crackers and I find it fun to create my own and get something new that’s exactly what I want.

So, do these taste like Cheeze Its? No. But, I still REALLY liked how they turned out.

First of all, there’s no cheese in them. They’re flavored with cumin and smoked paprika, and have an earthy smoked flavor. The tomato paste balances out that smokiness and also gives them the warm orange hue. There’s also a touch of chili powder to give a kick on the back end. The texture is somewhat coarse thanks to the cornmeal in the dough. I think these crackers would be just fantastic with hummus, french onion dip, spinach dip or soup. Those who like raw cheese would also really enjoy eating a small wedge on top. Try and enjoy, will ya?

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

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Smoky Chili Crackers

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon powdered/dry milk (like Carnation’s)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked parika
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup shortening, cut into cubes
  • Scant 1/2 cup water
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling

Special equipment: cookie cutter of choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, dry milk, cumin, smoked paprika, baking soda, sugar and chili powder.

Cut in the shortening and tomato paste with a fork until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.

Add enough water to make a workable dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour or the freezer for twenty minutes.

Divide the dough into quarters, working with one piece at a time. Keep the other 3 in the fridge while you roll out the other on a floured surface, like wax paper, or a pastry mat.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness (very thin). Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. Freeze the crackers for about 10 minutes on a sheet pan.

Poke a hole in the center of the crackers using a fork tine, or the tip of a knife. Lightly spray crackers with cooking spray and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same. 

Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

It’s about that time again….

I know I say it every year, but I really can’t believe we’ve reached December and are on the verge of entering a new year. I wouldn’t exactly say 2017 flew by, but it is rather ethereal that it’s almost over and that we’re so close to starting 2018. Show of hands, how many of y’all have your Christmas trees up?

Hopefully it’s a good number; now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s undeniably the holiday season. Mine’s been up since the first week in November. (Shh. Don’t judge me. I have the Christmas spirit of Buddy the Elf.)

If you’ve been following the blog for at least a year, then you already know what the month of December will bring ’round these parts. If you’re new here, then welcome. This post will kick off a little series I’ve been doing annually from CIMs very first Christmas called the 12 Days of Christmas. For 12 days I share Christmas-themed baking recipes that I think would fit in rather nicely on a holiday spread of goodies that you make for yourself or others.

Baking twelve days worth of treats is no small task, but guys, I’m still so excited to get this series going. The 12 Days of Christmas is my absolute FAVORITE time of year to be a food blogger. There are so many delicious looking posts/recipes that I get to see fill my timeline and also contribute myself. I try to plan ahead and put out a variety of posts that can be tried out by both amateur and advanced bakers. Sometimes all goes accordingly to the plans–other times…most times, I have to adjust/tweak a bit.

Regardless, I always end up having fun, which is what really matters.

I first made my own pop tarts about two years ago. I wasn’t sure how it would go–or if it would go at all. But the 12 Days of Christmas seemed like a good time to test it out. I found that it’s actually a pretty easy process and that both the dough and filling go VERY well with just about whatever you want to do with them. Today’s recipe revisits my first go at toaster tarts, but then tweaks it a bit with the addition of some new ingredients. Those new ingredients are a Winter Spice mix that has classic holiday baking flavors: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. There’s also some pepper (yes, pepper) just to give it an extra kick.

I added about two generous tablespoons of this spice mix to the base of my buttery toaster tart dough. It doesn’t alter the chemistry of the recipe, but it sure does give a whole new depth of flavor to dough itself. The filling I did keep the same just because I love it SO much, but I realize not everyone is a cranberry-clementine fan, or you just may not have the time to make it from scratch. As I said, you really can do anything you want with the filling within reason. Any jam, jelly or preserves you want to use would work. If you’re a fan of apple butter or pumpkin butter, it’ll work. Heck, if you want to use biscoff spread, cookie butter, or Nutella: IT’LL WORK.

But come on: doesn’t that cranberry-clementine filling look delicious? Don’t you want to at least try it? I thought so. Sharing this recipe at today’s Fiesta Friday #200.

Stay tuned for more recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas!

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Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Williams Sonoma

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Ingredients

For Winter Spice Mix

  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For  Cranberry Clementine Filling

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

For Tart Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Winter Spice Mix
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup cranberry clementine filling

For Decoration

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • About 1-2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • Holiday themed sprinkles

 

Directions

To Make Winter Spice Mix: Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and keep in an airtight lid. Set aside.

For tart filling: In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Set aside, cool completely.

For tart dough: combine the flour, winter spice mix confectioners sugar, salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add milk and egg yolk and mix together, just until dough comes together. (You may need to add a bit more milk here. I did, adding just enough until it held together in a ball.) Wrap dough ball into two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half and form each into a rough rectangle. Roll 1 rectangle until it measures about 16×9 in. Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 small rectangles, each about 3×4 in.

Lay half the rectangles on the work surface and lightly brush with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each, spreading it over the dough but leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Top with a plain dough rectangle, crimping the edges together with a fork– try not to let any filling ooze out.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 6 tarts on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Lightly prick the tops with a fork to create steam vents– be careful you don’t prick through both layers so the tarts don’t leak while baking!

Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for sprinkles) together in a small bowl, adding additional milk if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread or drizzle glaze over tarts, topping with sprinkles is desired. Allow to set up and harden, about 15-3o minutes. 

 

Corn Bubble Bread

I love going to discount/used bookstores. When I younger, my mom would take us downtown for weekly trips to the public library and there was a discount bookstore in the basement called The Book Burrow where you could buy books for literal pocket change. It was a dim place with exposed water/gas pipes, stained ceilings, and flickering lights. It had the unmistakable ‘old book smell’ that I will never forget.

And I loved going. LOVED it.

This was in a time when dial-up internet was still a thing, and the Google we know now really…wasn’t. (Shout out to the people who still remember what Netscape Navigator was) We didn’t have access to either. So if I had a school assignment that required some outside research, pictures or info my mom would just take us to the public library to either check out books or to the Book Burrow to buy cheap cooks or old National Geographic issues. The YA section was filled with towers of books, mostly different series like Sweet Valley High, which I loved. (Give me a break; I was a 90’s kid and an identical twin named Jessica at that.) I could, and sometimes did, stay in that corner reading and picking out books to buy for hours.

Those memories I have of hte Book Burrow have carried over into my adulthood to where I still love going to discount/used bookstores. Of course now I’m not looking for a book on Zambia for my 5th grade presentation project. I’ve also put my Sweet Valley High phase behind me–I’m actually trying to forget it ever happened. Nowadays when I stop and look in a discount bookstore, I will go straight to one section.

I bet y’all can guess which one it is.

The particularly great thing about the cookbook section of a discount section is that most of the books in it are going to be very old; some maybe even vintage. If you’re VERY lucky you can find the ‘Church cookbooks’ that are literally collated recipes from elderly church ladies (mostly Southern) that share the foods they make for their families and church potlucks. I’ve also seen huge, thick baking books with hundreds of recipes int hem that would normally be thirty or forty dollars, only cost as little as five in a discount bookstore.

It’s ridiculous how excited I get when I come across a find like that.

I was downtown a while ago and lo and behold: there was a discount bookstore adjoining the parking garage I was parked in. The cookbook section was right smack dab in the front window, guys.

Do you REALLY think I could just walk by without even going in to look? Tuh. Remember I said you could find those thick baking collection books for practically pennies? I found one at that discount bookstore in the parking garage. It was one of the first ones I picked up and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was mine. I flipped through the pages on the way home, already excited to test one of the recipes out.

This recipe in its original form needed some adjustments. But once I made them, it resulted in a super tasty loaf. We’ve already established that I will legit look for a way to throw some cornmeal into ANYTHING and this was a very good something to throw it in. I thought the construction was not only simple, but pretty to look at it. The shape is made by layering balls of the dough on top of one another in a tube pan so that when it bakes, it forms ‘bubbles’ across the top. You can use the bubbles to tear off chunks of the bread, or cut it into thick slices like I did.

The loaf itself is soft, though the cornmeal gives it a gritty texture and sweetness that I personally love. It’s delicious smeared with jelly and butter, but I think it’d be excellent as the base for French toast as well. If you don’t have a tube pan, this would work just fine in loaf pans and cake pans too.

So, what have we learned? #1, don’t sleep on discount bookstores. They’re lit. #2 You should make this bread. That’s all… for today anyway.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #199, co-hosted this week by  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau.

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Corn Bubble Bread

Recipe Adapted from “Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads”

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Ingredients

  • 3-5 cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 packages/envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, the salt, pepper and cornmeal. Stir together to combine, then set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the warm water, milk and shortening. Allow to heat over the stove until warm to the touch. (Around 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit)  Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top of that. Allow yeast to proof, about 10 minutes until frothy on top.

Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and use the dough hook to beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add an additional cup of flour to the dough to thicken it and continue to beat at medium high speed. Turn mixer off, then add additional flour as needed to where it is a rough mass that can be worked with your hands.

Sprinkle a clean surface with flour, then turn dough out onto it. Knead with a strong push-pull action, about 8 minutes. Place back in the mixer and knead for an additional 8 minutes. It should feel smooth and elastic, and spring back under the touch.

Grease the mixing bowl, then place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to proof until doubled in size, about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

Grease one 10” tube pan. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and turn dough out onto it. Punch dough down a few times to deflate air bubbles. Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to divide into 32 equal pieces; first 2, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32. Roll each of the 32 pieces into balls, then arrange the balls into 2 layers in the bottom of the tube pan. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to proof until doubled in size, about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush over the top of the dough balls. Place the tub pan on a half sheet pan, then bake in the oven until golden brown and hollow on the bottom, about 40-45 minutes. (It browns/bakes fast, so check it early and cover if browning too quickly. Bread is done at 190° inner temp.) Allow to cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

I have a confession to make.

I don’t think I’ve ever admitted it to anyone before. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even said it out loud. I considered keeping it to to myself and taking this huge, scandalous secret with me to my grave just because I know that it’s going to shock some (and maybe a lot) of you. You might even second guess or doubt my instincts for taste and good food. I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to change it. But it’s just no good. This is just who I am. This is my truth and well, here it is:

I…don’t like the Little Debbie Honey Buns. At all.

I know, right? But calm down. Take a deep breath. Just let me explain.

When I was growing up as a kid, Little Debbie snacks were almost like a form of currency on the school bus, at lunch tables, lockers, the playground, etc. A few of my classmates and a drama teacher had full running ‘businesses’ hocking a pop up shop of candy, pickles and Little Debbie treats. Weird? Nah, not really. They made a killing off it because as it turns out, kids love candy, pickles and Little Debbie snacks. I remember being jealous of their profits. But I guess I just didn’t have the ‘entrepreneur’ knack…or more importantly, the start-up funds from my mom to kickstart a hustle of my own.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, I’m not knocking Little Debbie snacks entirely. There are several that I did and still DO think are tasty; the Donut Sticks for one.  Oatmeal Cream Pies for another. And Star Crunch. Terrible for you? Yes. Delicious? Double Yes.

All of the above snacks would be apart of the pop up stores, lunch room swaps and locker purchases in my childhood. But the biggest seller–I mean the one that was the *most* popular, hands down–were the Honey Buns. Everyone loved Honey Buns. For those that still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Honey Buns are yeast pastry buns flavored with ‘honey’ and ‘cinnamon’, then dunked in a thick layer of ‘icing’. I have my reasons for throwing the quotation mark shade, and they have everything to do with my distaste of the infamous Honey Bun that last to this day.

Like many other mass produced packaged snacks, Honey Buns are loaded with preservatives. I realize that this just comes with the territory but whatever the preservatives are that used to make them, they don’t gel with my taste buds. I’m just speculating here, but I’m pretty sure the amount of actual honey and cinnamon that are in a finished Honey Bun isn’t…much. And it shows.

And then there’s that icing. Oh God, that icing. The texture is what throws me off. It’s gloopy. It’s gelatinous. It’s…y’all I don’t even *know* what it is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. What I do know is that I find it yucky and it’s a large part of why I never liked Honey Buns and finally stopped trying to.

Look guys, if you’re a huge fan of Little Debbie Honey Buns, that’s fine. You’re not alone. Quite a lot of other people are.

But the way I see it, if you’re going to indulge in a Honey Bun, why not make it an actual…honey bun? Y’know, one where the dough is fresh baked and isn’t loaded with preservatives, where it can go beyond just a snack and actually act as a filling breakfast, a bun where there’s  more than just a thimble sized amount of honey involved?

Do I have a your attention yet? Good.

As you can see, these aren’t a thing like the Little Debbie Honey Buns, and frankly I think that’s a plus. The dough is soft, fluffy and chewy. They’re crammed with breakfast sausage that I browned then flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper and (of course) honey. After that, they’re rolled up cinnamon bun style, but wait! Now we’re at the *really* good part: an ACTUAL HONEY glaze that’s lightly flavored with orange juice/zest is both brushed on top of the rolls as they bake, but also poured beneath them in the pan. What this results in, is a thicker,, stickier, syrupy glaze that you can drizzle and drag the rolls through once they’re finished. It’s everything.

I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better. I got a huge load off my chest and shared an awesome recipe with y’all all at once. That’s a great way to go into the weekend. Hope all of yours is a good one. Be easy.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #198, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

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Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Bun Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

 

 

Directions

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, cinnamon, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside and allow to fully cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto  floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and  damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about  10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal.  Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.)  When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Sweet Dinner Rolls

Where do your thoughts wander when they get a chance to get and let loose? Positively speaking, I mean. Negativity is a journey in and of itself that I don’t want to focus on for this post. Instead, why not tell some of the things you actually *like* to daydream about? Things that will put you in a good mood by just thinking about them.

Personally, I can name about three main subjects my own mind gravitates towards that put me in my happy place.

The people that I love are right at the top, for obvious reasons. The next two are my creative outlets: writing and cooking. I’m kinda shy about talking my writing and since this is after all a food blog, let’s just focus on that.

It’s hard for me to try and estimate how many times a day my thoughts will go to cooking or baking. Too hard to even really try, so I won’t. But it’s a lot. I think about what I’ve already cooked or baked. I think about what I want to cook or bake. Then, I think about how I want to cook or bake it. I start planning the things I need to get from the grocery store, timing out when I’m going to cook or bake throughout the day. I have to decide if it’s something I want to blog about it. If it is and it’s winter, I also need to factor in time enough to take pictures before it gets dark.

Quite a bit of thought goes into every post I share here, and this one was no different.

Alright, so boom: I was sitting in a hard, wooden, and very uncomfortable chair waiting for my niece’s preschool to get out so I could pick her up. My mind wandered to bread baking–a very common place it likes to visit. I started thinking about types of shapes that I could mold it into that would both photograph well and be different than what I’d done before on the blog.

I’ve done scrolls. I’ve done knots. I’ve done flowers.  Crescents, wreaths, scrolls, skulls, sticks. I’ve made twisty, elaborate, shaped loaves. I’ve made tear and share batches, as well as plain, round rolls.  I’m not trying to blow my own horn, I’m just saying all this to emphasize that it takes some imagination for me to come up with something new for me to do so far as bread shaping is concerned.

I’m not exactly an amateur baker, but I’m not sure I’d call myself an expert either. So when I’m planning out my next baking projects, I try and make sure that my plans don’t get too ‘lofty’ to the point where it’s something I’m not able to execute. There are some bread bakes I’ve seen that are far and beyond anything I’m currently capable of–they’re made by truly spectacular, talented bakers that are goals for me. The things I do are relatively simple to do, but I aim to still make them pretty.

Hand to God, that’s literally how I came up with these. The dough is simple to put together and the rolls themselves are easy to assemble. And yet,(if I may say so myself) they still look pretty good.

I’ve actually been making these rolls for years, except I’d just been shaping them into simple balls and letting them be dinner rolls in the cast iron skillet. I’d like to emphasize that if you want to try this recipe, but the shaping intimidates you, it’s ABSOLUTELY fine to forgo the shaping altogether. After the first rise, just portion the dough into regular balls, arrange them in a cast iron skillet/cake pan/or 13×9 baking dish and bake them that way. They’ll still be fantastic.

Sweet Dinner Rolls1

The shape of the rolls is really just two pieces of dough that I rolled into scrolls. I then laid one of the scrolls on top of the other and nudged the coils close to each other into a ‘square’ shape. By the time they proofed and baked, it looks like they’re intricately woven and what not. These bake up puffy and fluffy on the inside and as the title suggests, they are on the sweeter side. They’re a huge favorite here in our spot, and if you decide to try them I have a feeling they’ll become one in yours too.

Linking up this post to Fiesta Friday #197, co-hosted by  Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Trupti @ My Culinary Saga.

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Sweet Dinner Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

 

 

Directions

Pour the water and milk together in a small saucepan and bring to a warm temperature (think baby bottle warm). Remove from heat. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow yeast to bloom, about 10 minutes until frothy.Beat 1 of the eggs in a small bowl. Set aside.

Attach the paddle attachment to the bowl of a standing mixer Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the beaten egg, the butter, 1/3 cup of sugar and the salt. Mix together until combined. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, to the mixture, until a dough begins to form. Allow to knead for about 8-10 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable.

Spray the inside of the bowl with cooking spray, place dough inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Allow to rest in a warm place until dough is double in size, about 1 hour.

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Punch down dough onto surface, divide in half. Place one half back inside the bowl and keep covered. Divide the other piece into a half, then divide each of those halves into thirds. (So, you should have six pieces at this point.)

Take one of the six pieces and divide it in half. Roll each half into a long rope, about 6-7 inches. Roll the ends of each rope into spirals, going in opposite directions of each other.  Place one of the spirals on top of the other and pinch together so that the spirals form a roll with four ‘corners’. Place on a sheet pan you line with parchment paper. Repeat this process until you’ve used all of the dough. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl. Remove plastic wrap and brush rolls with the beaten egg. Bake rolls in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and bottoms, covering with foil if browning too quickly on top. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.