Honey Wheat Harvest Loaf

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I don’t really remember when exactly it happened, but somewhere along the way, I stopped liking straight white sandwich bread. I don’t mean *all* white bread; I still bake with white flour when making biscuits, rolls, challah and whatnot. I mean that when it comes to specifically eating sandwiches, I will give a hard pass to white bread.

I don’t even know how I ever ate white Wonder Bread at all anymore, there’s such a sour, acrid after taste to it for me now that is just…nah. These days I prefer whole grain, wheat, five seed, or oatnut flavored bread when building my epic sandwiches. I like the nutty earthy flavors in the whole wheat flour much better.

Whenever a long time passes where I don’t make homemade bread, I start getting an ‘itch’. Suddenly, bread baking becomes all I think about, where my thoughts automatically start to wander, all I want to do. My taste buds suddenly crave bread more than anything else.

Actually, no. That’s not one hundred percent accurate. My taste buds want and crave bread/carbs ALL the time, in general. Which is simultaneously annoying and glorious. But y’know, whatever.

This time around to satisfy my bread baking itch, I turned to this recipe from King Arthur Flour that I’d had my eye on for a while. The original calls for it to be made in a bread machine. I don’t have one of those, but bread machine recipes aren’t that difficult to adapt to using with standing mixers, so that’s what I did here. The ingredients were all things I had on hand in the house at the time. It made a single loaf and it was all very easy to throw together.

Honey wheat breads are probably my favorite, flavor-wise. There’s a perfect balance of the nutty grains with a slight sweetness from honey that just works. I will say though that breads that are based in whole wheat and bread flour (like this one) do tend to be more dense than those made with white. They’re often not light and/or fluffy; think chewy, heartier textures. Because they’re denser, they also can require longer proof times before the dough will rise. Just be patient with it because if you do it right, the results will be worth it.

Apart from being made with whole wheat flour, there’s also 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato in the dough, which is a sneaky yet tasty way to get a serving of vegetables in; y’know, just in case the angel on your shoulder is trying to make you feel guilty for eating carbs instead of a carrot stick.

Not that EYE would know anything about that, I’m just trying to help you guys out.

I really wish there was a way I could transmit the smells of this loaf baking in the oven to each and every one of you guys. It just smelled SO good. It took a lot of patience on my part before it was cooled down and I could cut into it. I toasted two thick slices, smeared them with some  Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, made some eggs & sausage and had myself a delicious Breakfast for Dinner. Although, this bread would work very well for french toast too, methinks.

Linking this post with this week’s Fiesta Friday #162, co-hosted this week by Sarah @ Tales From The Kitchen Shed and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons.

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Honey Wheat Harvest Loaf

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup mashed cooked yam or sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins, packed
  • melted butter for brushing on top, optional

 

Directions

Combine the warm water and milk with the instant yeast. Sprinkle the 1 tsp of white sugar on top. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour, bread flour, rolled oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer use the whisk attachment to combine yeast mixture with the unsalted butter, mashed sweet potato and honey and mix until well blended.

Using the dough hook attachment, fold in the flour mixture. Half way through, add the raisins. Mix until dough is smooth and surface of bowl is clean, about 8-10 minutes.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Grease a 8 x 4 loaf pan.

When dough is finished rising, gently turn out on a floured surface and deflate it. Divide in half and roll each half into a log. Wind the two haves together in a loose braid, pinching the ends together. Place braid in the loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap/damp towel and allow to rise for another hour or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the bread and brush with the melted butter. Bake for about 45 minutes, tenting with foil if browning too fast. Bake until golden brown and the inner temp reads 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cool completely before serving.

Cinnamon Star Bread

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Hey guys.  So yeah… about this.

This is bread. Just cinnamon, sugar and bread. That’s it.

I know right? I’m not even going to make an attempt at humility with this one. Quite frankly, this is pretty awesome and I feel kinda awesome myself for having actually made it. I was excited after the second proof before the thing even went in the oven: it was already just so darn pretty.

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I’ve spoken before about my love for the Great British Bake Off/Baking Show. If you’re a fan of cooking & baking in general then I assume you’ve already seen it yourself–if not, you should as it’s a great show. In every episode there is a Show-stopper round, where the contestants have to take the subject of the week and use it to create a ‘showstopping’ work of art that is every bit as delicious to look at as it is to eat.

Rest assured, I will most certainly not be competing on a baking show at any point in time–however if strictly hypothetically speaking I did happen to compete on Bake Off, this Christmas star would almost DEFINITELY be my centerpiece for the showstopper round of Bread week.

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Number one: it’s GORGEOUS. Probably one of the prettiest things I’ve ever baked. Number two, it’s also deceptively simple to put together. No, but seriously: IT IS. I didn’t believe it at first glance either, but after reading the step-by-step illustrated walk-through on the King Arthur Flour website, I knew that this was something I could at least try to pull off for myself.

Plus, I couldn’t think of a better occasion for it than the 12 Days of Christmas series.

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I almost didn’t want to cut into this at all, but you guys should know that the recipe yields beautiful results both to look at and to eat. The bread bakes up soft and chewy and the cinnamon sugar gives it a subtle sweetness that makes it great for enjoying with coffee. I’m sure I also don’t have to point out the obvious; that if you were to take this into just about ANY breakroom, anywhere then it would most definitely disappear with all quickness. The twists on the star points make for easy tear-and-share portions and I assure you that there’s plenty to go around.

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I decided to keep things simple for my first go-around with the bread, but now that I see how easy it is to put together my mind is already formulating new renditions to give this. The cinnamon sugar can easily be substituted for a blend of chocolate & nuts. A layer of fruit spread. Nu-friggin-tella. I could also even possibly see a savory twist given to this where it’s layered with cheese and herbs. The possibilities here are endless and the results for this just can’t be beat. Because I like to share, I’ll be sharing my Christmas star with all of us showing up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #151–where it’s pretty crowded already I see. The more the merrier.

Well. Here we are again. We’ve reached yet another end to the 12 Days of Christmas series. Thanks to all of you who followed along with me. Hopefully it stirred up the baking elf in you and gave some inspiration to whip up some Christmas cheer in your own kitchens. Just as I have every day, I’ll include the links to all of the recipes in this year’s series below. Feel free to check them out if you haven’t already done so.

Have a very VERY Happy Holiday, you guys. Bless up.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Day 4: Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Day 5: Almond Stamped Cookies

Day 6: Spiced Cookie Bark

Day 7: Demerara Sugar Buns

Day 8: Sugared Shortbread

Day 9: Hot Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

Day 10: Cranberry Scones

Day 11: Pebernodder Cookies

Day 12: Cinnamon Star Bread

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Cinnamon Star Bread

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

For Filling

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (1/3 cup of white sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon)

 

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, nonfat dry milk, potato flour or instant potato flakes and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the water and yeast. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Using the whisk attachment mix in the butter. Switch to the dough attachment and gradually fold in the flour mixture, kneading until a smooth dough forms, about 10-12 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Allow to rest for 1– 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Cut dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover them and let rest ofr 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough into a 10 inch circle. Place this circle on a piece of parchment and brush with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top and use your fingers to lightly press into the dough, leaving 1/4 of the outer circle bare. Set the parchment nearby.

Take a second piece of the dough and repeat the process, placing on top of the completed cinnamon sugar disc. Repeat with the others, LEAVING THE TOP DISC BARE.

Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.

Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.

Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter.

Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Demerara Sugar Buns

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Everyone knows that little kids love to wake up bright and early on Christmas morning so that they can dive right into the presents, while the adults just wish they could sleep in, am I right?

Well…what if I’m not?

What if there were something that would make us grown-ups want to get right out of bed early on Christmas morning and come clambering down the steps like excited rugrats too?

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If there’s anything that can do it, I’d say it be food. And in the personal case of THIS adult, (short of, I don’t know loan forgiveness or a winning Powerball lottery ticket) then I’d think more specifically, it would be the smell and anticipation of a good Christmas breakfast.

I’ve had some of the shortest sleeps of my life the night before I know I’m going to eat good the next day. At times, it really can be like being a little kid struggling to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. I’ve put roasts in the slow cooker late at night, then absolutely woken up bright and early the next morning, rushed into the kitchen and lifted the lid just because the smells coming out of it were too tantalizing to leave alone and I had to see/taste the results.

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Baked goods are a major Achilles Heel of mine. Always have been. Rich, buttery doughs that are slathered in thick icing/glaze or sugar make me salivate at the mouth and weak at the knees (not to mention chunky in the derriere, but let’s just focus on positives here, shall we?)

The smell of them is a very close second to the taste. To me, the smell of baking pastries is just how you’d imagine Christmas morning would smell if you could capture it inside an air freshener. It makes me kinda curious as to why no one’s gotten on that yet; surely some company out there must be able to do better than those sugar cookie flavored candles that really just  act as triggers for your gag reflex.

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You know what smell would make an *awesome* holiday candle?

Demerara Sugar Buns.

Come on: doesn’t it just sound like it belongs on a candle label? (Either that, or used as the stage name of a Burlesque dancer.)

The presents underneath the tree are always going to be what gets the kids out of bed–but I promise one thing and it’s that the smell of these buns baking in your oven will prooooobably be enough to make the adults curious enough to at least wake up and call out what’s for breakfast. It’s just…glorious, you guys.

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The dough is both all purpose and whole wheat based, which gives it a faint nuttiness that pairs very well with the nutmeg that I added to give it an earthy spice. For shaping, I couldn’t make my mind up between wreaths and spirals, so I did both. The spirals proofed and baked prettier than the wreaths and in the future I’d probably just stick to the spirals, but you can shape these into whatsoever shape your heart desires; heck, you could even just leave them as simple balls of dough if you’d like. It won’t affect the taste, promise.

Aside from it’s awesome flavor, you can probably guess that the best part of biting in one of these babies is that crunchy layer of demerara sugar that sprinkled on top. Because it’s sprinkled on before baking, it also becomes caramelized in the oven, giving an even richer, sweeter flavor to the buns overall.

I know I don’t need to state the obvious, but I will anyway: these are delicious. Slice one in half when piping hot, slather with butter and jam and you’ll swear it’s a Christmas miracle.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Day 4: Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Day 5: Almond Stamped Cookies

Day 6: Spiced Cookie Bark

Day 7: Demerara Sugar Buns

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Demerara Sugar Buns

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus melted for brushing (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup Demerara sugar, plus more

 

Directions

Whisk yeast, milk, and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer just to combine. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon of white sugar on top then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in eggs and the 6 tablespoons of butter.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, whole wheat flour, 2¾ cups all-purpose flour, and nutmeg.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix on low speed with dough hook until a shaggy dough forms. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together into a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of bowl, 10–12 minutes.

Place dough in a buttered large bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.  Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the 1/3 cup of demerara sugar with the 1/3 cup white sugar in a small bowl. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping the other pieces covered in plastic wrap, roll out dough into about a 12 x 8″ rectangle. Sprinkle with one-third of sugar mixture and cut crosswise into 4 pieces (you should have four 8 x 3″ rectangles). Roll up each piece to make a long rope; squeeze ends gently and pinch along seam to seal. Tug rope to stretch so it’s about 10″ long. From here, either roll the ropes up into coils (like you would a spring), or shape into wreaths (there are MANY tutorials online that will show you how to do this).

Gently transfer buns to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about another 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and brush over the proofed buns. Sprinkle with more Demerara sugar. Bake for 12-20 minutes until buns are golden brown and the sugar on top has started to caramelize. Allow to cool for about 10-12 minutes. Serve with butter & jam.

 

Stuffing Bread

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Goodness. Has it been a year already since we did this? Time flies.

If you’re a new follower and are wondering what ‘this’ is, then allow me to fill you in. ‘This’ is the day that we’ll be starting the annual 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport: a series of 12 days of 12 recipes of Christmas themed goodies that I dump on you guys in rapid succession that are specifically designed to make you hungry for carbs/sugar/Christmas cheer. Because I find that is in one of my especially strong skill sets.

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There will (of course) be plenty of cookies and other sweets to come in the following days, but I also wanted to try and incorporate some other types of baked goods into the series as well. Yummy Christmas food comes in sweet AND savory packages. Case in point,  today’s recipe.

We’re coming right off the heels of Thanksgiving where a lot of people cook/eat abundant amounts of stuffing and/or dressing. Our family makes dressing (the stuff you cook all on its own in a separate baking dish, a very safe distance away from the raw, uncooked bird), and we like to eat it at both Thanksgiving AND Christmas. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

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Whether you’re on Team Dressing or Team Stuffing, chances are you’re fond of at least a core set of flavors and ingredients that can be found in both (if they’re any go0d anyway). A lot of times, bread is crumbled and these ingredients and flavors are added TO it along with some egg and chicken broth to moisten it before it gets baked into a kind of casserole.

But what would happen if those flavors and ingredients were mixed together to MAKE a scratch made yeast bread?

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This. This is what would happen. And now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll elaborate. What you’re looking at is a whole wheat loaf of bread that I flavored with poultry seasoning, then rolled up with ingredients meant to remind you of the taste of stuffing and/or dressing: sage, celery, onion, browned sausage and cranberries.

I initially saw this bread on King Arthur Flour as a pull apart bread, similar to Monkey Bread where people can tear off chunks. However, in my rendition, I decided to go a little bit of a different route as I thought there could be some problems with the overall construction of the dough and keeping the filling from just collecting in pools between balls of dough–which could get particularly icky when it comes to baking sausage that will probably leak excess grease (even after you drain it)

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So, my idea of ensuring that I had a loaf that would still rise and bake without falling apart was to see if I could take a similar shaping method that was done for the Pane Bianco I did a while ago and apply it here. The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, the filling is spread out, then the dough is tightly rolled up into a log. That log is split open, then turned inside out to reveal the layers created by the rolling–which, creates a very pretty presentation if I may say so myself. You’ll get huge kudos and props for a process that is actually fairly simple.

Oh, and I mentioned how delicious this stuff is, didn’t I? No? Oh, well yeah: it’s amazing. Using whole wheat flour as the base creates a nutty flavor of the dough that’s nicely complimented by the herbs from the sage, the savory meaty flavor of the sausage and the sweetness of the cranberries. They all balance one another so well. We ate this loaf both for Thanksgiving and warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave for breakfast in the days that followed and were VERY happy campers. I think that you and your wolfpack will be too should you choose to bake them a loaf.

Linking up this recipe to Fiesta Friday #148, cohosted this week by  Linda @ La Petite Paniere and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Stay tuned for more recipes to come in the 12 Days of Christmas; we’re just getting started!

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Stuffing Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour 

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For Filling

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the instant yeast on top of the milk. Sprinkle sugar on top of yeast and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and flour. Set aside.

Using the dough hook attachment, add the flour mixture alternately with the butter in the standing mixer. Knead for about 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth dough that no longer sticks to sides of bowl.

Grease bowl with cooking spray or oil, place dough back inside, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onions, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the heat and add the sausage, chopped sage, poultry seasoning, and cranberries. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into an about 22 x 8 1/2 rectangle.  Sprinkle sausage/cranberry filling over dough, leaving about 1 inch of a border clear the top.

Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way, away from you. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Using kitchen shears, start 1/2 inch from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1 inch deep, to within 1/2 inch of the other end. Keeping the cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the “S” to form a “figure 8;” pinch the ends together to seal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the bread, and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Rollos de los Muerto (Rolls of the Dead)

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I first heard of & learned about Dia de los Muertos when I was in the eighth grade. There was an assembly where a traveling performance group put on a show for us that was supposed to be about a Mexican holiday in October that when translated into English, was called The Day of the Dead.

Basically, it’s a holiday that honors the passing of loved ones. The indigenous peoples who it originates from believe that on October 31st, the gates of Heaven are opened at midnight and the spirits of deceased children will be able to briefly reunite with their families for 24 hours. The spirits of deceased adults come next on November 2nd. Elaborate altars are made to both remember and honor the deceased loved ones with pictures, delicious food, presents and candles.

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I was intrigued by it then and I still am now. I love the idea of a holiday centered around honoring loved ones who have passed away. I love the elaborate, colorful sugar skulls that get decorated and sold. I love the beautiful face makeup designs; works of art in and of themselves , really.

And yes. Of course: I love the food aspect of it too.

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Probably the most well known food from Dia de los Muerto is the Pan De Muerto, translated into English as the bread of the dead. They’re sweet egg breads typically molded into large loaves with shapes of skulls and bones on top.

I made a loaf of Pan De Murerto for the first time two years ago, and posted it on the blog. This year I found myself thinking about it again and how I wanted to give it another go,  this time maybe giving it a different spin.

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So this year, instead of making one big loaf of pan de muerto, I decided to go ahead and make a batch of rollos de los muerto: rolls of the dead. This is a dough that in my research I’ve seen is often flavored with anise. I included a full tablespoon of anise seeds in mine to really make sure the flavor came through.  Although the original recipe for this calls of orange blossom water, I didn’t have any on hand and to be perfectly honest also didn’t feel like buying an entire bottle of the stuff only to end up using one teaspoon’s worth for just one recipe(because that stuff really packs a punch even in small doses). I found that the cheaper and much more readily available option to most people is just going with the option of using the zest from an entire orange. It isn’t the exact same floral flavor as the orange blossom water, but it’s still nonetheless just as yummy.

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Lastly, most pan de muerto just calls for white sugar to be sprinkled on top of the dough to finish. With this batch of rolls, I decided to add on an orange flavored syrup that gets brushed on them at the very end of their baking, THEN sprinkled with white sugar on top once they’re taken out of the oven. The flavor combination of the anise and orange is one that works EXTREMELY well. The dough has that subtle licorice flavor that’s then given a fresh citrusy aftertaste from both the orange zest and the orange syrup. The white sugar gives it a pleasant crunch on the outside to compliment the soft chewiness of the dough inside.

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With shaping, I decided to keep things simple. I rolled out individual balls of dough, then pinched off smaller balls that I split in half to form the crosses. In retrospect I was a bit concerned that they resembled hot cross buns a bit too much. Then I remembered that Hot Cross Buns are made for another holiday that celebrates a resurrection of the dead of sorts. In thinking of it that way, the resemblance seemed kinda ironic.

These really are delicious. The sugar on the top does give a sweetness to them, but they’re not overly sweet. I think they’d still work very well to eat alongside a salad for lunch or even a heavier main course for dinner.

Happy Dio de los Muertos/Halloween, and Fiesta Friday #143, cohosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Maggie @ Spoon in a Saucepan!!!

Rollos de los Muerto (Rolls of the Dead)

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 5⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • Zest from one large orange
  • ¾ cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus 6 tablespoons melted, divided
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

For Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Granulated or coarse ground sugar

Directions

Mix yeast, 1/3 cup  of flour, 1/4 cup warm water in the bottom of a standing mixer bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of white sugar on top. Let it sit uncovered for about 35 minutes, until the mixture is frothy and begins to form bubbles on top.

Whisk eggs, anise seeds, kosher salt, orange zest and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture starts to look foamy and sugar is dissolved. Then, add this egg mixture to the yeast starter along with the remaining 5 cups of flour. (Note: don’t add the flour all at once, about 1 cup at a time is what you want to aim for).  Using the dough hook attachment, alternate adding the flour with adding the softened butter, beginning and ending with flour until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes.

Increase speed to medium and and continue to mix until sugar is dissolved and the dough is elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Take the dough out of the ball and lightly grease the bowl with 2 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil. Transfer dough back to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise in warm, draft free place until doubled in size, 2 hours.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

Punch down onto a well floured work surface. Pinch off a piece of dough slightly smaller than a tennis ball and shape into a round. Pinch off a second piece that is about the size of a ping pong ball, the divide this piece in half. Roll each half into a long rope that will extend over the sides of the tennis-ball dough round. Arrange each rope in a criss-cross  shape over the dough and tuck the ends underneath the ball to keep from shrinking. Place the finished round on the parchment paper.

Repeat the previous step with the remaining dough. Brush the rolls with the 6 tablespoons melted butter, then cover them with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise for 45-minutes to an hour. (Note: they may not double in size during the proofing time, that’s okay. Mine doubled in size while baking.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While dough is proofing, make the glaze: Combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue stirring and cooking frequently until it has reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes. If it bubbles up, just take it off the heat for a few seconds then put it back on. Remove from heat.

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, then remove from oven. Brush generously with orange syrup then return to the oven for about 5 minutes more. Remove from oven (inner temperature should be 190 Fahrenheit degrees for fully baked rolls), then sprinkle immediately with white sugar so that it sticks. Allow to cool before serving.

   

My Grandma’s Angel Biscuits

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This week marks the third anniversary of Cooking is My Sport. My blog baby is three years old, guys.

Should I feel like a proud mom? Cause I kinda do.

I still remember when CIMS was first ‘borned’. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to format my posts, write out the recipes, take the pictures.

It was actually kind of a hot mess.

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Kinda like my first major solo effort at baking.

Let me just give a useful piece of advice upfront for any of my followers who are excellent cooks, but not so excellent bakers: start with something easy.  Something that doesn’t require too much know how or technique. Something you’d have to try REALLY hard to mess up.

Don’t be like me. Don’t make your first baking experiment biscuits.

Chances are, you’re going to mess them up. Like I did.

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I didn’t realize that a good biscuit dough still has visible chunks of butter it. I didn’t know that it wasn’t like bread dough and therefore should NOT be kneaded.  I didn’t know that finding a warm place to let the dough proof did NOT count as setting it on top of the preheated oven–which made the bottoms of the biscuits start baking before I even placed them in the oven.

I was completely clueless guys. It wasn’t pretty. Don’t be like me. There are plenty of novice baker recipes on this blog I can recommend for you to try if you’re just trying to get your feet wet.

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But for those of you who are a little more wet behind the ears with baking, then I really do think you ought to pay attention. Cause you really do want to make these. Trust me.

The recipe for my grandmother’s angel biscuits was actually the first recipe I posted on the blog. I decided to start with that one for a number of reasons: first being it’s a family recipe and therefore very close to my heart. Second, it was around the time that I was learning from my mistakes & getting pretty good at making them. And third: they’re some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had.

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As the blog’s birthday came around, I was considering what recipe I would make to celebrate it. Cake was obviously something I considered, but if you’ve been following along lately you’ll know that I’ve done a few over-the-top cakes over the past few months already. I’m kinda over cake (at least for now) I felt I should try and do… something else. That something else is a flashback post where I remade the recipe for my grandma’s angel biscuits, and also did some tweaking to the language of the initial recipe that better reflects the lessons I’ve learned from trial and error making them.

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I’ve made these biscuits for breakfast where we ate them smothered in sausage gravy, or schmeared with butter/jelly or butter drizzled with syrup. I’ve made them for dinners where I fried chicken cutlets and had myself a homemade chicken biscuit that can more hold its own against anything Chick-fil-A cranks out. I’ve made them for holidays where we eat them on the side with our epic feasts. And, I’ve also made them for no other reason at all than just because I felt like having one (or two.) The leftovers, if you have any, also refrigerate very well. Whenever you want to reheat one, you can either slice it in half and reheat in the toaster, or cover with a damppaper towel and microwave for about 20-25 seconds. It’ll taste just as tender and flaky. Promise.

Taking me and my biscuits to this week’s Fiesta Friday #141, cohosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

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My Grandma's Angel Biscuits

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport.com

Ingredients

  • 1 package of regular or quick acting active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup shortening (I put mine in the freezer overnight to make it as cold as possible)
  • 5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp divided
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Directions

 Grease 2 to 3 round cake pans (one or two half sheet pans will work as well)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Sprinkle the one tsp of sugar over the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes. (If the yeast does not foam with small bubbles on top after 10 minutes, the water was probably either too hot too cold. Think ‘baby bottle warm’: this is what you want.)

Cut shortening into pre-sifted dry ingredients with a pastry blender, with 2 forks OR (my personal preference) by running the shortening over a box grater in 4 qt. bowl until mixture looks like bread crumbs. 

Stir in buttermilk & yeast mixture until dough leaves side of bowl. (The dough is going to be VERY sticky and soft. To avoid a mess, rub extra flour on your hands, or on a rubber spatula when mixing.)

Turn dough onto generously floured surface. Gently roll in flour to coat, shape into a ball. Knead lightly 25 to 30 times, sprinkling with flour if dough is too sticky. (This is where it gets a little tricky. I reallyreallyREALLY want to emphasize the important of the word GENTLY here. My own past missteps have finally made me realize that when handling biscuit dough, the less you actually ‘handle’ it, the better. Avoid even clenching your palms around the dough. I use my fingertips to pat. Your palms carry heat, and heat will melt those marvelous shortening chunks that create tender, flaky biscuits.)

Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 1/2 inch round cutter. (You can also use a knife or bench scraper to cut them into squares) Place about 1 inch apart in cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in preheated oven until the biscuits have doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°. Remove plastic wrap from pans, then place them back into oven and bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Spread tops with butter.

   

Browned Butter Banana Bread

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Hey y’all. Sorry about the hiatus. You know how things go; sometimes you can get it together enough to crank out a post, other times it just doesn’t happen.

But I made it happen today, in more ways than one.

A little over a month ago, I used browned butter for the first time in a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It was a huge success. I knew right away that I would definitely be finding a way to incorporate browned butter into my baking repertoire for other classic recipes.

And now, I’m glad to say that I’ve found another great way to do just that.

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I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like banana bread.

I don’t know if I want to know anybody that doesn’t like banana bread. It’s just one of those things that we can all probably agree upon and bond over.

Besides that, I think we all can relate to our trying to be health-conscious and whatnot, buying a huge bunch of bananas, then letting them sit on the counter for days on end, just chilling until one day we look up and bam: they’re too spotty and soft to be able to eat anymore and we feel the guilt for not eating them raw when we had the chance.

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Don’t feel bad. We’re all guilty of it.

But as we all know, overly ripe bananas can become a blessing in disguise because of what they can be transformed into. The easiest and probably most popular of these, is the almighty banana bread.

I’m not gonna lie guys. There really aren’t many tricks or frills to this recipe. It’s quick and stupid-easy to put together, and although I briefly considered doing something different to jazz it up, like adding a pecan streusel or drizzling an icing on top or something, ultimately I decided against it and decided to just let things be and keep it simple.

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I actually ended up very pleased I didn’t add anything else to it, because what really makes this recipe shine is the inclusion of the browned butter. It’s what takes this from being an ordinary loaf of banana bread and elevates it to something really special. Like I described in my chocolate chip cookies post where I first used it, browned butter has a very rich, nutty and toasted smell/flavor. My best way of trying to describe it is that it takes standard flavors in a sweet dish, and deepens them. There’s a noticeable toasted, caramelized taste to them that once you’ve tried, you just can’t get enough of.

I thought that I loved chocolate chip cookies before, but trust me: I love them even more when they’re made with browned butter. Same thing here.

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The ingredients for banana bread are usually ones that most people already have in their fridges/pantries already, so that means most of you have no excuse not to go ahead and do yourselves a favor by making this loaf, stat.

The smells it’s going to create when you make the browned butter AND bake the loaf alone were made for autumn. When it’s finished, don’t skip the step of taking the extra browned butter and brushing it over the hot loaf. It’s going to seep into the crevices of the  crumbs and when it dries, well…all will be revealed and suddenly made clear to you.

Slice the bread up thick. Put it in the toaster for a few minutes. Pop it out. Slather one side in butter. Cinnamon honey butter if you’re really feeling adventurous.

You’re welcome.

Bringing this loaf to this week’s Fiesta Friday #140, co-hosted this week by  Julie @ Hostess at Heart and Linda @ Fabulous Fare Sisters.

Browned Butter Banana Bread

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchens

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and either butter or spray a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Melt and heat the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. You want the milk solids to turn a deep golden brown color. It will have a nutty and toasted smell and there should be small golden brown bits in the surface. It’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Stir the brown butter so that any of the golden brown bits that may have fallen to the bottom are distributed equally throughout the butter. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the brown butter for later on.

Whisk together the remaining brown butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl, then fold in the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula or a fork.
Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined (the batter doesn’t have to be completely smooth, a few lumps are fine).

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, and bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Take the reserved browned butter (reheat in the microwave to re-melt if you have to) and using a pastry brush, brush the butter over the hot bread, letting it seep into it.

Run a knife around the edges, and let cool completely in the pan on a rack.