Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Consider today’s recipe as a Part II from last week, where I shared a simple, but really special way to make your own croutons from scratch. This week, I’m back with a sweet option.

I’d actually never tried or even heard of sweet croutons before a few weeks ago. Croutons are typically envisioned for savory salads, and as such are flavored savor-ily (if that’s even a word).

But sweet croutons do in fact have their place and purpose. They can go in sweet fruit salads as a crunchy element. They’re good for sweet trail mixes with nuts and candy.

They are also absolutely fantastic for eating all by themselves as a sweet and crunchy snack. Ask my niece; that’s what she’s been doing with them quite contentedly.

Like last week’s Rosemary and Browned Butter croutons, these are a cinch to put together, and they yield such tasty results.

It’s actual cinnamon toast crunch, you guys. How awesome is that?

Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup white granulated sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar with the melted butter and whisk with a fork until dissolved, then set aside.

Pour the rest of the cinnamon sugar into a shallow container/bowl and set aside.

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled cinnamon sugar butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

While croutons are still warm, toss them in the dry cinnamon sugar until evenly coated, Set on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil to cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #417.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Are you all ready for one of the simplest, but tastiest recipes ever?

That’s not hyperbole. I mean every word.

I think Croutons are one of those things that you buy in the grocery store, anf never really thought about making them for yourself. Because, for what? It’s essentially a condiment for salad or soup, and who honestly wants to set aside the time to make their own condiments?

I used to feel that way the exact same way.

Then I made my own croutons, and let me tell you: I take it back. All of it.

Croutons from scratch are worth it, guys. So worth it.

In the first place, they’re cheap to make. All you need to make a crouton is bread, butter, and in this case, an herb sprig. If you go to the bakery section of any grocery store, you can pick out a loaf of bread for $1-5 that will work perfectly for croutons. Aim for a sturdy loaf with big airy pockets on the inside that you can easily cut into cubes and trim the crusts from; I used a sourdough boule.

In the second place, homemade croutons are easy. After cubing the bread, all you have to do is coat the cubes in butter and any other desired seasoning, then let them toast away in the stove until they’re crisp all over.

I could’ve just went plain for my first time making them, but I’m extra, so I decided to brown my butter first, then add a sprig of rosemary to it, just to up the flavor of my croutons past regular old toasted bread cubes.

I was honestly surprised by how much I loved the taste of these. In the first place, because the bread is freshly made, they have a fresh, heartiness to them that you just can’t get in a prepackaged crouton. Then, add that browned butter rosemary flavor to the texture, and what you’ve got is not just a delicious condiment, but a pretty delicious snack that’s tasty enough to stand over the stove and eat one after another, all on its own.

Not that I would know anything about that; just saying.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Place the sprig of rosemary in the hot butter and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, until it’s no longer sizzling/crackling.

Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled browned butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

Allow to cool completely, and store in a resealble plastic container or bag.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #416, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Much like sour cream from last week, raw tomatoes are another one of those ingredients that I don’t care to eat on their own, but I’m very appreciative of what they can do as a recipe ingredient.

Salsa is one of those recipes. I don’t mind a verde, but a red salsa will always be my preference, and the flavor of the actual tomato plays a huge part in that.

I’m a huge advocate for roasting things. It concentrates and enhances ingredients’ natural flavor, and that’s especially true for tomatoes. I can’t think of a better (or an easier) way to showcase the flavor of when they’re roasted than in a fresh salsa.

This salsa broils tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro until they’re roasted/charred. They’re then blitzed together in a blender and seasoned, minimally.

And that’s literally it. Definitely one for the “You Can’t Mess This Up, No Seriously” category.

I will say that texture is also important here; I can’t stand runny tomato juice salsa. It’s gotta be chunky for me all the way. So I was very intentional in my blending to actually only press the Pulse button a handful of times so as to not have ‘soup’ instead of salsa. But if that’s your preference, feel free to blitz it for as long as you like until it’s as thin as you like.

This salsa made me scold myself for not having made myself some before up until now. It tasted so fresh and bright. The flavors of each of the broiled/roasted ingredients really shined through here, and my only regret about it i that I hadn’t made a double batch.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 10 Roma Tomatoes, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow sweet onion, quartered and separated.
  • 8 oz fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Preheat stove broiler on High. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Arrange tomatoes and garlic cloves on one sheet pan and the other for the onions, cut side up for the tomatoes and onions. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes and the onions with salt and pepper.

Broil on the rack of the nearest to the broiler grill. After about 7-10 minutes, check on the garlic cloves; if they are browned and the skins have begun to open, remove them from the oven and their skins, and set aside.

Broil the tomatoes about 5-10 minutes more, until they have begun to char and blister on the tops. Remove from oven, and broil the onions until they’re softened and beginning to char at the tips, 5-7 minutes.

Spread the cilantro out on one of the sheet pans; broil for about 35 seconds to 1 minute; don’t walk away from it. Once cooled, tear the softened cilantro into pieces.

Once the tomatoes and onions are cooled, place them and the garlic into a a blender. Pulse a few times until it forms a chunky paste; I only needed to pulse about 5-6 times to my desired consistency.

Pour the salsa into a bowl, season with the lime juice, cumin, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Taste & adjust for seasoning, then stir in the wilted cilantro.

Chill in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #415

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

By itself, I think that sour cream tastes awful.

I mean, it is really, really bad. It’s both a texture and a flavor thing for me. I know a lot of people like adding it to tacos and goulash and whatnot, but the mere thought of eating sour cream raw triggers my gag reflex every time.

However.

As terrible as I think it is as condiment by itself, in my experience, I have found that it is a stellar ingredient to bake with.

What it lacks in texture or taste by itself, it more than makes up for when it’s time to improve the texture of baked goods; practically any baked goods, really. For instance, I never go without sour cream when making biscuits if I can help it. It’s become one of my secret baking weapons.

I use it with biscuits and scones all the time and now, it turns out that I can now add it to the yeast bread repertoire.

I’ve made bubble bread a couple times before on the blog. It makes for an eye-catching presentation, it’s pretty simple to shape/assemble, and it’s a good tear-and-share loaf– if you’re inclined to share, anyway.

There are very few things that garlic, herbs and butter can’t make taste good, and bread is certainly no exception. I don’t know which I was a bigger fan of; the texture of the bread itself thanks to the sour cream and the bread flour, or the buttery herby garlicky flavor that’s in every bite.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to pick and neither do you should you decide to give this a try.

Just enjoy it.

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 3¼ cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together 1½ cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt by hand.

In a medium saucepan, heat sour cream, butter, and ¼ cup (60 grams) water over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Sprinkle the active yeast on top, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed and frothy.

With mixer on medium speed, pour warm sour cream mixture into flour mixture, beating until combined and cooled slightly, about 1 minute. Add egg, and beat at medium speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 1¾ cups flour, beating until well combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl, about 1 minute.


Lightly spray a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt.


Divide dough into 36 pieces. With lightly floured hands, working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out), roll each piece into a smooth ball. Dip each ball into melted butter mixture, and place in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Pour any remaining melted butter mixture over dough in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sprinkle risen dough with flaked salt.


Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and garnish with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #414.

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Happy New Year, everyone. We made it to 2022.

Whereas 2020 seemed to drag on forever, I feel like 2021 flew by. I have no idea where all that time went to, but here we are. I hope that all of you had a great finish to the holiday season and are having a great start to the new year.

Last year, I kicked off 2021 on the blog with a biscuits recipe, and as it would turn out, that’s how we’re bringing in 2022 as well. That’s pretty on brand for me.

Maybe I’ll even just go ahead and make it a running tradition from here on out.

Recently, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to bake with sourdough. It’s been on my baking Bucket List for I don’t know how long, and I’m somewhat ashamed of myself that I’m just now getting around to it, as sourdough is one of my favorite ways to enjoy carbs.

It’s definitely something that takes time and practice. I’d heard before going into this that a sourdough starter is somewhat like a baker’s ‘pet,’ and I’m finding out that that’s true.

You have to keep it stored in a specific container, at a specific temperature and give it specific amounts of ‘food’ at specific times in order to help it grow healthy. It’s a very involved process. This is my first pet ever, so I’m choosing to take all this very seriously, to the point where I even named my starter. It’s a He and his name is Donatello (No, not after the sculptor. After the turtle.)

Me and Donatello are still figuring out this whole sourdough business, but until we do, in the meanwhile, I’ve had quite a lot of discard on my hands at the end of every day. See, a starter is just composed of flour and water and ferment that gets produced from that flour and water paste. Every time you ‘feed’ a starter, you have to take out the majority of the starter and, well…’discard’ of it. But if you’re like me and throwing away food or even baking ingredients is difficult for you, then today’s recipe is a really perfect one.

Rather than just pouring off the discard into a trash can, you can actually store leftover discard in the refrigerator for a select period of time for occasions such as these and add it to Blank Canvas recipes to give them added ‘sourdough’ flavor. As my favorite Blank Canvas recipe is the Biscuit, I knew I had to try this.

The process for sourdough discard biscuits really isn’t that different from my process of making any other. The only difference here is that rather than sour cream or buttermilk, you rely entirely on the sourdough discard for the ‘wet’ ingredient that holds the dough together.

We really liked these. The sourdough flavor itself will probably depend upon on how long you’ve been keeping the discard in the fridge, but paired with the dried herbs, it’s a really great biscuit.

Wish me and Donatello luck on our sourdough adventures!

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Artisan

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of your choice of dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, basil or a combination of these)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3-4 cups sourdough starter*

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and dried herbs. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork to coat with flour after each addition of about 1/3 to 1/2 stick. This will prevent butter from clumping. Mixture should look like floury pieces of butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the sourdough starter. (Note: The amount you add here is going to vary according to the time of year and your location. You may need to use all of it, you may not. Start with 1/2 cup and stir the dough together with the fork, just until it begins to come together in large clumps. Add more flour if you need to, just enough to make it hold together.)

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops of the biscuits with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter and place in oven.

Once you’ve placed the biscuits into the oven, lower the temperature to 425F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for additional 8-10 minutes, or until the tops and the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown. (You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.)

Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before serving.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #413