Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

I consider it a real shame that I’ve had and treasured my Dutch oven for literal years and never realized that there were more things I could do with it than just make stews and braises.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I started baking sourdough bread that I first tried out baking in my Dutch oven. To be frank, I was blown away by the results, and shocked that I had gone this long without having Dutch oven-style bread in my life.

So what’s the big deal with the Dutch Oven? In the first place, a big one (Mine is 6 quarts) is perfect for baking up huge loaves of bread at a time, which is great if you’re like us and you love the carbs.

Second, the heat distribution of a Dutch Oven is where it’s at because it allows you to get that thick, crackly artisan style crust that you normally only see in bread coming out of professional bakeries.

Third (my personal favorite), the Dutch Oven will keep the loaf from spreading out too wide and flat while baking so that you can get and keep that rounded height shape even after baking.

Mashed potato is really a magic ingredient for bread dough. It keeps it soft and moist for days, and if you use sweet potato, you get added flavor and color. This isn’t a sourdough bread, but I still used the same technique for mixing, rising and baking as I did with my go-to sourdough recipe, and got really great results out of it.

One last thing: I really don’t recommend baking this bread without having a thermometer on hand to doublecheck the inner temp. The sweet potato makes it very moist, and the golden outer crust can be misleading as to whether or not it’s actually cooked through. Better to be safe than sorry. Remember, baking is science: the numbers won’t lie or steer you wrong.

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Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (1016 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (760 grams) lightly mashed baked sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (568 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)

Directions

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the warm water. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar on top of the yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the herbs and kosher salt and stir together with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast-water and the sweet potato.

Use the dough hook to stir until a smooth dough comes together. (I’ve had days where I needed to add more flour, I’ve had days where I needed to add more water. This is probably just going to depend upon the weather, the time of year, and the temperature of your kitchen.)

Grease the bowl, place the dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap, and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it’s covered in size, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (It’s somewhat like a tomato) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to bake, undisturbed for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #430.

Rustic Sourdough Bread

When was the last time you accomplished something you’d really wanted to accomplish for a really long time?

I’m at a point in my life when I’m learning a lot about accomplishment. I’m doing, which is what I think most people associate accomplishment-but a huge chunk of it is also in what I learn. They’re both just as important, with the learning aspect sometimes edging out the doing.

One of the things I set out to accomplish at the start of this year was a task that had been on my Baking Bucket List for a while; upwards of a few years. I kept putting it off and putting it off. But because I’m in an Accomplishment Mode, I made up my mind a couple of months ago that I was finally going to learn how to bake sourdough bread for myself.

After two months of practice, determination, and errors, I’m pleased and proud to say, that I have.

The essential ingredient in sourdough bread is something called a sourdough starter. A starter is comprised of nothing but water and flour that’s allowed to ferment until it forms acids and gases that give the sourdough bread it’s signature tangy flavor.

When I was doing my research into sourdough baking, I heard starters being called “pets” a lot, and now that I have one of my own, I definitely understand why. They’re just as touchy and finicky as a pet, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to get it started (no pun intended). You have to ‘feed’ a starter daily, up to twice a day in the beginning. The types of flour you use matter to how strong/well it ferments. You also have to weigh out the ingredients to get the best results. It really is a science.

Because bakers get so involved with their starter in the preparation and maintenance, many give their starters names, just like you would give one to a pet. (Apparently it’s considered good luck, or something like that) I have to admit, I too joined in on this trend. My starter baby/pet/co-pilot is a He, and his name is Donatello.

No, not after the sculptor. After the turtle. (Those who know, know).

It took Donatello and I a while to get the hang of this starter/sourdough thing, but we finally have and what we made together was truly glorious.

If you take a look at the ingredients list, you’ll see that this recipe is definitely for beginners. In the first place, it uses a combination of sourdough starter and active dry yeast, which helps to ensure that the dough will still rise without needing the starter to be absolutely perfect. In the second place, there aren’t any other flavorings for the dough besides salt. Now it tastes delicious exactly as written, but in subsequent bakings I have also incorporated dry herbs and pepper into the dough, which just upped the taste factor even more.

Lastly, My recipe makes a LOT of bread. A LOT. This was on purpose, as I wanted a loaf that would pretty much fill my six quart Dutch Oven, and that’s exactly what this did. But If you prefer, you can definitely halve the recipe and still come out with a smaller, but just as delicious loaf of sourdough bread.

Here’s to the doing and the learning of Accomplishment….

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Rustic Sourdough Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (454 grams) ripe sourdough starter, stirred down (I used King Arthur’s recipe for sourdough starter, which can be found here.)
  • 1 1/2 cups (680 grams) lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 10 cups (1204 grams) all purpose flour

Directions

Sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the warm water, then sprinkle the sugar on top. Allow to sit about 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining dry ingredients together in the bowl of a large standing mixer and stir together with a large fork.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients and pour in the sourdough starter and yeast-water mixture.

Use the dough hook to stir until a smooth dough comes together. (I’ve had days where I needed to add more flour, I’ve had days where I needed to add more water. This is probably just going to depend upon the weather, the time of year, and the temperature of your kitchen.)

Grease the bowl, place the dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap, and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it’s covered in size, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (It’s somewhat like a tomato) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Allow to bake, undisturbed for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #421.

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.

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

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Happy Christmas Eve eve, everyone.

We’ve reached the end of the 12 Days of Christmas series and we’ve just about reached the end of 2021.

That is absolutely bonkers to me.

The year flew by for me, and what a year it’s been. I have mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it’s been busy, challenging, and at times very stressful.

On the other hand, it’s also been very rewarding, validating and blessed.

Life’s not perfect, these are trying times we’re living in, and I’d be lying if I said it never got to me.

But at the end of the day, I like my life. I love what I do. I feel very blessed and grateful that I get to do it, and I have people in my life whose love and support makes all of the above possible. Those are facts that I try to remind myself of whenever times do get rough.

I understand that the holidays are not a particularly enjoyable time of year for everyone, for various reasons. To whoever you are and wherever you are that’s reading this, I hope that you can find at least a little bit of comfort, peace and joy, in whatever way that looks like for you. For me, doing this Christmas baking series is a huge source of my yearly holiday cheer. If it’s brought some to any of you, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you all as the finale of the 12 Days of Christmas. It really surpassed my expectations and hopes for it when I first got the idea to try it out.

I’ve made pull apart bread twice before on the blog, with fantastic results. I knew going into this year’s series that I wanted to give it a holiday makeover, and this is what I came up with.

Pull apart bread requires a sturdy enriched dough that can stand up to the filling, and so I went with my go-to challah recipe for this. The filling itself is my go-to cranberry sauce recipe, but you can use whatever cranberry flavored jelly/preserves thing you prefer.

One thing I must insist on though is that you make sure your baking pan/tin is big enough to accommodate this loaf. I’m not kidding: this recipe makes a LOT of bread, y’all. Feel free to invite over a crowd, OR, make plans for a killer pain perdu. Both will work.

You guys, please have an amazing holiday and rest of the year. Congratulations for making it through 2021; here’s to 2022 and whatever it has in store for us. Please stay safe out there.

Jess ❤

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 11: Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Day 12: Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • the zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 cups of homemade cranberry sauce or preserves. (I use this recipe)

Directions

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that and allow to proof about 10 minutes until yeast is frothy.

Beat in honey, oil, eggs, orange zest and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all the flour, this varies according to kitchen temperature and time of year)

Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan; set aside.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and keep one half covered in the bowl while you work with the other

Roll the half out into a 12 inch square. Use a spatula to spread HALF of the cranberry sauce/preserves over the dough. Use a pizza wheel, bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the square into 16 small squares. Make 4 stacks of 4 squares each. Place each stack on its side into the tube pan. Gently separate the dough layers so the dough fills the pan (it doesn’t have to be neat). Repeat this step with the other half of dough and the other half of the cranberry sauce/preserves.

Cover tube pan with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in warm place until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the top with white sugar. Bake until loaf is browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pan for about 30 minutes, then loosen with a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 more minutes before slicing and serving.

Sweet Potato Gingerbread

I usually always try to incorporate some kind of gingerbread-y themed recipe(s) in the 12 Days of Christmas, but up until today’s post, it’s actually been quite a while since I made actual gingerbread. I consider that kind of a shame considering how much I love it, and how extremely easy it is to throw together.

True to my word from earlier posts, I’m sharing yet another recipe that features sweet potato as a main ingredient. It’s one of my favorite vegetables, it’s rich in beta carotenes, and I’ve found that it lends itself extremely well as a baking ingredient–even when baking for Christmas.

I’ve used mashed potato as an ingredient when baking yeast bread before, with wonderful results. Not only does it add flavor, the potato acts as a built in ‘moistener’ that makes it very difficult for the loaf to dry out. Since it worked for a yeast loaf, I saw no reason it couldn’t work for a quick bread.

For me, delicious gingerbread boils down to two things: moisture and spices. They both have to be there, or it’s no bueno. The mashed sweet potato takes care of all of the moisture in this loaf, and as for spices, there’s ground ginger (of course) as well as cinnamon nutmeg and molasses.

Oh, the wonderful, heavenly smells this made in my kitchen as it was baking. I’m getting emotional/hungry just thinking about it.

Gingerbread’s flavor actually improves with time, so this might be something you ‘make ahead’, allow it to sit for a few days wrapped in wax paper, parchment in a plastic bag, then take out to enjoy on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.

Or you could do what I did, and cut a square out as soon as it was cool enough to handle and eat it standing right over the stove. Your choice.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Recipe Adapted from Southern Lady Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch pan, or line the pan with parchment paper you’ve lightly sprayed with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and butter; beat at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add sweet potato, milk, molasses, eggs, and vanilla, beating to mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to sweet potato mixture, beating until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar, if desired.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cut into 12 squares.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #410.

Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

We’re just on the cusp of December.

If you’ve been following this blog for at least a year, you know what that means. If you haven’t been following the blog for at least a year and have no idea what’s going on, you picked a great day to show up.

Annually straight after Thanksgiving, I kick off a special holiday series on the blog called the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s exactly what it sounds like:

12 days of holiday-themed baking and cooking recipes that I share from now and leading up to just before Christmas.

It’s always a lot of work, but it’s definitely a labor of love that I genuinely look forward to every year. When I was growing up, the holidays were a time when a lot of really delicious baking happened, and it gave the season a special feeling that I try and rekindle for nostalgia’s sake now that I’m old enough to do it for myself.

So let’s just get right into, shall we? Although the majority of the recipes I make for the 12 Days of Christmas are sweets, I do always try to throw at least one savory option in there, and this year, the savory dish is what we’re starting out with.

Sausage rolls aren’t huge here in the States, but from what I can tell, they’re huge across the pond in the UK, particularly at this time of year. British sausage rolls are typically made with sausage that’s been flavored with ‘wintery’ spices, then wrapped and baked in puff pastry. I knew going into the series this year that I wanted to do a Christmas sausage roll, but puff pastry isn’t my favorite.

So I made some adjustments.

The sausage filling of these rolls is flavored with pretty much all of the spices you’d associate with Christmas flavors, and if you’re a fan of Christmas meat pies like sausage rolls or French Canadian Tourtiere, you’ll recognize the flavor profile I was going for. However, for the casing part, I deviated from tradition, making neither puff pastry or pie crust; instead, these are wrapped/rolled/baked in a chewy/fluffy yeast dough. Additionally, the bottom of the pan is lined with a honey cinnamon glaze that makes the most delightful ‘goo’ to pair with the saltiness of the rolls themselves. In that sense, they’re kind of like Winter Spice Sticky Buns.

Pretty delicious start to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas I’d say.

Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Onion powder, salt and black pepper, to taste

For Bread 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

For Glaze

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

Directions

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, and spices. Set aside and allow to fully cool. (I prefer to let mine sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop, but you don’t have to if you’re short on time.)

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 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.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #408.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Things have been all kinds of busy lately.

There’s a lot going on and that leaves less time than I would like to cook, much less set aside the time to take pictures and write up recipes for the blog. But since this is one of my outlets to rest/recharge from my day-job, I still make time in however best way I can.

One of those ways, in both a booking/blogging sense, is through making quick bread. I’ve mentioned before that we eat breakfast for dinner pretty frequently in my household, and quick bread of some sort usually makes an appearance as a part of that.

Quick bread is bread that’s made without yeast and, thus, doesn’t require a lot of preparation or rising time. It can literally made in more or less, an hour (thus the ‘quick’ part). Examples of quick breads would be gingerbread, pancakes, banana/zucchini bread; basically bread that’s made with baking powder and/or baking soda that acts as the leavening/rising agent in lieu of the yeast.

Whenever I’m in a hurry to make breakfast for dinner, I will usually default to making pancakes, or some kind of quick bread that we eat alongside eggs, sausage and bacon. This was one of those times.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking with sweet potatoes lately, which is evident not just in today’s post, but in a few more to come in the upcoming weeks. While I find them delicious all on their own, they’re also a great baking ingredient. Mashed potato is great for keeping bread doughs from drying out, and I find that sweet potato gives a warm and savory flavor that’s perfect for the tastebuds this time of year.

Like just about all quick breads, this loaf comes together very quickly (pun kinda intended). Apart from being very tasty, it’s also in the You Can’t Screw This Up recipe category–which is yet another reason for you to give it a try, whether it’s for keeps, or maybe even for a tasty holiday gift.

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Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 chopped, toasted pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 6 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg cinnamon, ginger and sugar.

Add the eggs, oil, and milk; mix until well blended. Finally, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, pecans, and dried cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in the pan at least 15 minutes before removing. For best flavor, store overnight before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #407, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.