Mile High Biscuits

So, a few days ago on social media, I saw some talk about their being a National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. I had no idea such a thing existed. I randomly Googled it and there are conflicting opinions on when exactly it is; some folks say May 14th. Others seem to think it’s May 29th. Personally, I don’t know and couldn’t care less what day it is–any day that’s set aside to celebrate the buttermilk biscuit is a-okay with me. I may be a little late to the celebration, but better late than never. The Biscuit Holiday Spirit is kept alive in my heart (and my belly) all year round, I assure you.

I don’t blow my horn about too many things, but one thing that I will not only blow, but blast from the rooftops about, are my biscuit making skills. They’re solid. I make excellent biscuits. It’s just a fact. This wasn’t always the case. I’ve mentioned many times before that my very first foray into baking, EVER, was an attempt to make angel biscuits. As I’ve also mentioned many times before, this was a tragic mistake. As I found out, making excellent biscuits isn’t an exercise for baking beginners. It just isn’t. There’s both a science and art form to it. Even after I became a decent baker, my biscuits still just ‘ok’ and not great, and I knew they were just ok and not great.  It bothered me. So, I started doing some research as to how to get the results I wanted: tender biscuits with LOTS of layers that rose high.

After nearly four years of baking, lots of practice, and even more ‘just ok but not great biscuits’, I think I can finally say that I’ve found the perfect method to making tender biscuits with lots of layers that rise high (and that last part was very important to me). I’ll go ahead and share all the tips I’ve learned to achieve them in celebration of National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Some of them are ones I’ve mentioned before in other biscuit recipes I’ve shared on the blog–others are new. Regardless, pay attention and bookmark/save/pin this post so that you can go back to it later.

The first is an oldie but an essential goodie: freeze your butter. PLEASE. If you don’t follow any other piece of advice I give you, make sure that you follow this one. The use of frozen butter changed my biscuit making baking life. Why? Because great biscuits start with VERY cold fats–the colder the fats, the better they will be. The butter won’t melt/dissolve if it’s frozen. Now, frozen butter IS kinda difficult to cut, especially into even pieces. This brings me to the second tip: use a box grater to cut the frozen butter. Why? You want to make sure the butter is evenly distributed into the dough so that all of the biscuits have layers and are evenly buttery. The large holes on a box grater will cut the butter into the pea sized pieces you want that will evenly distribute into the flour without you having to rub them with your fingers–which may cause them to melt.

This third one I only recently started applying myself and it too was a game changer for me: use cake flour. Why? Cake flour is just flour that has a lower protein content than all purpose flour. It’s also been sifted many times, which results in a product with a much finer crumb. Cake flour will make your biscuits SO MUCH MORE tender and fluffy on the inside. I had read about using cake flour to make biscuits a long time ago, but for a while I just resisted trying it because it’s more expensive than all purpose. However, there is a DIY method to ‘making’ it yourself without having to splurge the special stuff.

Measure out 1 cup of flour. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour. Now add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it together through a strainer about 5-6 times.

Boom. You have now made 1 cup of DIY, work in a pinch CF. Repeat the process for however many cups of CF you need for your recipe; I’ll usually do 4 at a time.

Fourth: place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven while it preheats and keep it there while the biscuits bake. Why? Water and high heat create steam when they meet. Steam makes the layers in the biscuits expand and rise. Fifth: cut the edges off of your rectangle of dough before you cut the biscuits. I’ve found that the edges of the dough tend to be tough and compressed together after being rolled out and layered several times. The biscuits’ll rise higher if you get rid of them. Sixth: Don’t twist the biscuit cutter when you cut. Why? It collapses the edges, seals off the layers and the biscuits won’t rise. Cut straight down, then quickly lift it up and keep it moving.

Seventh: place the biscuits close together on the pan. Why? The closer they are together while baking, the more steam pockets that will form between them. Remember what I just said about steam? Mmhm. This is what will make them rise upwards and form tall biscuits rather than spreading outwards and cause them to be wide and flat. Eighth: Freeze them for 10 minutes before baking. Why? This is just to ensure that the butter in the biscuits is as cold as possible before it meets the very hot, steamy oven. The ‘shock’ of that cold-meets-hot ingredients will help the biscuits to rise higher and have more layers.

Aaaaand, that’s about it. It sounds like a lot of info, but in practice it’s not complicated. Just follow the recipe and apply the tips and you’ll be fine. Have a good weekend guys.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #226, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Mile High Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from CountryLiving.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups cake flour, spooned and level
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper 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.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place biscuits, slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (You may have to cover the biscuits with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Sometimes, I’ll mess something up in the kitchen. Happens to the best of us. But inevitably each time that I do, after I’ve tossed out the evidence and cleaned up the kitchen and sat down and given myself time to stew/pout/feel sorry for myself, I get this irrepressible urge to get back into the kitchen and make something else–y’know, just to ‘prove’ that the bad dish was just a fluke and that I do in fact have cooking/baking chops.

I know there are at least a few of y’all who can relate to that. It’s okay to admit it. This is a safe space.

Although there are days where things go left, I also have days in the kitchen that turn out the complete opposite, where I make something that is SO GOOD I want to cook and bake again just to replicate all of the deliciousness all over again. That’s kinda why this post is happening today. Something not only went well, it went so fantastic that I just had to have another go at it. That ‘something’ was last week’s recipe of this Chocolate-Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread. That stuff was legit, one of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever made in my life.

Clearly by the post stats, y’all thought it was pretty good too, so thanks for the love.

So, what are we doing here again you might ask? Well, first of all, I just really enjoyed the method of putting it together. Second, maybe chocolate and cinnamon aren’t to your liking (poor unfortunate soul that you are) and you need something a little bit different–here it is. Third, the method is easy and flexible enough to where any number of flavor combinations and ingredients could go into a pull apart loaf. This is just my second attempt at the method to see if this combination was a good one.

Spoiler alert: it is.

Just as I did before, I’m using my go-to Challah recipe for this, as it’s easy to put together with minimal ingredients, and also sturdy enough to stand up to the layering of the dough in the pan later. If you have another recipe for Challah or an enriched bread to use, that’s fine–you COULD also use frozen pre-made bread dough that you thaw for a real shortcut. Just make sure it’s a brand you trust and that you’ve got enough to fill two loaf pans.

Whereas the loaves from last week were spread with softened butter, chocolate and cinnamon, these loaves are spread with a combination of cream cheese, lemon zest, blueberries and white sugar. Just like before, the dough is cut into squares that are stacked together, than layered into a loaf pan. They don’t have to be perfectly arranged. The more imperfect that they are, the more they’ll make pieces good for ‘pulling’ the bread apart into portions.

Like the butter from last week, the cream cheese isn’t here to give the bread a ‘gooey-ness’ on the inside–it’s main function is to keep it nice and soft and fluffy. I love when blueberries bleed through baking–it gives the food a beautiful color as well as the flavor that works so well with the freshness of the lemon zest. I also sprinkled some white sugar on top of the loaf just to give it a layer of crunchy texture.

I knew this was a winner before I even sliced into it. It proofed up HUGE, and browned beautifully in the oven. The smells were divine. And the taste? No words. I wish I could bottle them up and send them through the screen to all of you.

Also, you notice how it seems like photo overkill this week? That’s because during the photoshoot I was so impressed with how gorgeous this thing looked that I couldn’t put my camera down. It was love at first sight. I’m trying to help all of y’all capture that same magical feeling I had. I’m trying to make you drop everything to go and bake this bread. Is it working? Good. Now get to it.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #224, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For Filling

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • White sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Use the paddle attachment to beat in honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating switching to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all 8 cups, this varies according to location and time of year)

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.  Grease the standing mixer bowl, place dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp clean cloth. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the cream cheese with the lemon zest and nutmeg in a small bowl.

When the dough has finished rising, turn out onto your floured work surface and punch down the risen dough. 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 cream cheese mixture over the dough. Sprinkle HALF of the white sugar on top of that, then HALF of the blueberries on the sugar, using your fingers to press the blueberries down into 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 one of the greased loaf pans. 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 cream cheese mixture, blueberries and sugar.

Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels and allow to rise in warm places until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the tops with the white sugar. Bake until loaves are browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pans for about 15 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 serving.

Chocolate Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Call it old school or whatever you like, but I was raised to believe that when someone invites you over to their house for a gathering, it’s just good manners to bring something to eat to share.  At the very least, you need to OFFER to bring something. And to be honest, even if they say you don’t have to, you should still bring a bottle of something something to drink with the meal–alcoholic or non-alcoholic, it doesn’t matter.

What you don’t do is show up to someone’s house to eat empty handed.

Being an introvert I don’t get out very much, but if I am going to go over to someone else’s house for a gathering then I’ll offer to bake something to bring. Just about everyone has a sweet tooth and just about everyone loves pound cake and butter cookies. (My deepest sympathies with those who don’t. I hope you get the help you need.) Often it’s either pound cake or butter cookies that I’ll bring, as those are both delicious desserts that don’t take a huge amount of effort and I usually always have the ingredients on hand in my house already.

Sometimes though, I’ll switch things up.

I went to a gathering for my niece’s preschool recently and since I was going to someone else’s house, I knew I’d have to bake something to bring along to eat. I knew I could’ve just made pound cake or butter cookies–but I made a last minute decision to take a different route and bake bread instead. I really liked where we ended up. I made two different kinds, the first of which I’m sharing with y’all in today’s recipe.

Pull Apart Bread gets its name from the way that the loaf is assembled. The dough is cut into imperfect layers that are easy to pull apart into portions, which makes it great for gatherings and sharing. The layers are usually stuffed with some kind of sweet or savory filling. It can be made with just about any sturdy yeast bread recipe. I went with the go-to Challah recipe that I use. It does make two loaves so either make sure you have two loaf pans or cut the recipe in half. (Although I would definitely make the whole recipe, share one loaf then just keep the other at home all for me, but that’s just my kind of lifestyle.)

Don’t get intimidated by the step of layering the dough in the pan. It’s not complicated. You’re going to roll out the dough into one large rectangle, then spread the top with softened butter, chocolate and cinnamon. After that, you divide it into 16 squares. Make four towers from the sixteen squares. Layer those four towers into the pan–don’t worry about making them perfect, because they’re honestly not supposed to be. The more ‘imperfect’ they are, the more ‘perfect’ they’ll be for tearing off and sharing into thick slices. I will say that this loaf proofs HUGE and it will keep growing while it bakes, so it may not need the full second hour to double in size.

It took me a while before I learned to appreciate the flavor combination of chocolate and cinnamon, but once I learned my lesson, I never had to learn it twice. It works. I find that the cinnamon works to counter the slight bitterness of the chocolate and the flavor kinda reminds me of something I’d buy in a coffee shop. I sprinkled the top of the loaf with cinnamon sugar to give it a crunchy contrast of texture with the pillowy inside of the bread, which in true Challah fashion, doesn’t disappoint. This stuff went over like gangbusters and I think it’s a treat kids in particular would love, for obvious reasons. Though I can also see more sophisticated re-purposing uses for it like, say…French toast or bread pudding? Yum.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #223, co-hosted this week by the fantastic Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For Filling

  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped (you can also just use chocolate chips/chunks)2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Use the paddle attachment to beat in honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating switching to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all 8 cups, this varies according to location and time of year)

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.  Grease the standing mixer bowl, place dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp clean cloth. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the chocolate with the white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Combine the softened butter with the vanilla and salt in another small bowl until it form a thick paste.

When the dough has finished rising, turn out onto your floured work surface and punch down the risen dough. 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 butter mixture over the dough. Sprinkle HALF the cinnamon chocolate mixture on top of that, using your fingers to press the chocolate down into 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 one of the greased loaf pans. 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 butter mixture and cinnamon chocolate mixture.

Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels and allow to rise in warm places until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake until loaves are browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pans for about 15 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 serving.

Orange Sweet Rolls

If I had to give my blog one valid criticism in terms of content I would say that one of them would be that there are certain dishes that I don’t make/share enough of on here. There aren’t enough salad recipes on Cooking is My Sport. This isn’t because I don’t like salad–I actually love it, provided it’s done with the right mixings and a delicious dressing. It’s just that most of the salads I make for myself aren’t exactly…recipe-worthy. There’s no real formula to it and I don’t even really “make” most of it. I mix raw bell peppers, caramelized onions, rotisserie chicken together and have Catalina dressing/Sriracha mixed in. It’s absolutely delicious, but it’s not much of a ‘recipe’.

There should also be more variety to my Breakfast section, especially #1, since we eat breakfast for dinner so often in our house, #2 It’s one of the things I like to cook the most. I’ve said before that pancakes are my one true love, but strangely enough I’ve never posted them here. Part of that is my photographer’s anxiety at being able to get good, drool-worthy pictures of pancakes. (It’s harder than it seems). There are also other favorite breakfast foods I have that I still haven’t shared on the blog yet, for reasons.

I know that many food bloggers will create and photograph entire dishes that they don’t eat and will either give away or even….(gasp) throw it away.

Yeah, I  definitely don’t have enough money laying around to waste food like that. Everything I make/bake/post on this blog, we eat. And that actually explains why I haven’t been able to make some of breakfast foods I like, since I’m not the only one who lives here and my tastes don’t always align with everyone else’s. For example…I love cinnamon rolls.

LOVE. Cinnamon. Rolls.

However…my older sister doesn’t really like cinnamon rolls.

God, it pains me to even type that. C’mon, who DOESN’T love homemade cinnamon rolls (and Cinnabon, obviously)? But, tis true. She’s just not a huge fan of cinnamon, so even though I love them I don’t make cinnamon rolls often. However, recently I was able to find a middle ground between our tastes to where I could make something else that she WAS pretty satisfied with, and that also satisfied my craving for a cinnamon roll. Fortunately, she does like citrus, so I thought I would try to do something with that for a brinner one night.

Personally, EYE think that cinnamon and orange are a delicious pairing, but as my sister’s tastebuds really don’t agree with me, I decided to improvise and look for some other spices to use to flavor both the dough and the filling for my sweet-rolls-that-were-not-going-to-be-cinnamony. For the dough, I used vanilla, fresh orange zest and cardamom. Cardamom has a zesty, almost fruity flavor itself and when paired with the orange I thought would give it a familiar spiciness that the cinnamon would’ve given.

The filling is different from most cinnamon rolls recipes where a generous glob of butter is melted down then mixed into the cinnamon sugar. Here, orange zest is rubbed into the sugar, then mixed with softened butter, orange juice, cardamom and ginger. This forms a smooth kind of ‘paste’ that gets rubbed over the dough before the whole things gets rolled up. (Make sure you use all of it too! It may seem like it’s too much, but just smooth it out as evenly as you can with a spatula and tuck in any excess.) You’ll see why when they’re finished baking.

In some cinnamon roll recipes, I’ve noticed that the filling gets absorbed into the dough itself so that by itself there isn’t much gooey goodness inside. Not with these. The smooth orange ‘paste’ when baked up almost becomes like a stiff curd. It’s got a slight crust on the outside and is bright, tart, sticky goodness on the inside. The spices are just what’s needed to contrast the sweetness. These are delicious enough to eat on their own, but I do love a good icing on my buns so I made one with powdered sugar and more fresh orange zest and juice. I’ve found that it’s best slathered on the rolls almost as soon as they come out of the oven. That way, the icing will sink into all those nooks and crannies of the swirls and absorb the flavor of the dough. Yum.

So, I think I really pulled this out. Not only do I get to add another much-needed recipe to my Breakfast foods section, my sister really loved these. As did I. As will you when you make them for yourselves. Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #218, co-hosted this week by Ginger @ Ginger & Bread and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

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Sweet Orange Rolls

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 4 tablespoons, (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 orange, zested

Directions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine the butter, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, orange zest and 1 cup of flour with the yeast mixture until smooth and combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, along with the salt and cardamom. Knead for about 5 minutes, until a soft slightly sticky dough is formed.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and knead with your hands about 5 more minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Grease a separate bowl and punch the dough down into it, then flip it back up so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

In the meantime make the filling: in the bowl of the standing mixer use your fingers to rub the sugar together with the orange zest until fragrant. Add the butter and beat together with the paddle attachment until it’s creamy. Add the ginger and cardamom. Slowly drizzle in the orange juice until it’s thin, but still creamy. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until you’re ready to fill the rolls.

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and roll out to a large rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches. Use a spatula to spread the orange filling on top of the dough. Roll the dough up from the long end tightly to keep filling from spilling out. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide in half. Divide each half into 6 pieces so that you have 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 35 minutes or until dough inner temp reaches 190°F. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. Pour/spoon some of the icing on top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving, but they are best eaten still warm.

Orange Sage Glazed Ham

We don’t eat ham very often, but every time we do I wonder why and how I always seem to forget how much I love it. I don’t understand why ham catches the flack that it does–people either seem to love it or hate and the majority of people I know are inclined to the latter. Crazies.

Debate among yourselves about the whys–we like and eat ham ’round here and in case some of y’all will be too, I thought that Easter weekend would be a good time to share the most recent way that I made it.

I really don’t think that much needs to be done to a ham if it’s pre-smoked. So long as you have a good spice rub and glaze, the oven should be doing most of the work. That’s certainly the case here. It may take some time to cook, but this recipe couldn’t be easier to put together.

Citrus works really well with pork, especially orange.  You’ll be using both the zest and the juice; nothing wasted. For the rub, fresh sage gets mashed together with oil and the zest to form a thick paste that you’re going to schmear all over the ham. Let it do its thing in the oven while you put together the orange glaze that’s spiced with cloves and cinnamon. By the time it finishes cooking it’ll be thick, syrupy and spicy-sweet, which is exactly where you want it to be.

I know it takes a little bit, but your patience in letting the ham bake low and slow will allow the oven to render out the fat across the top. Once it’s cooked through and the glaze gets poured over it, the sugars in the glaze caramelize to form a thick, dark crust; it’s such a beautiful thing. The smells alone are gonna get you. The sweet tartness of the glaze balances out the saltiness of the ham. The spice of the cloves is also a nice flavor to balance out them both.

Also, let’s be honest: half of the reason I love making ham so much is that the leftovers make the BEST sandwiches or protein for salads. Or, if you really wanted to get creative you could use some of your leftovers on this bread pudding I made a few weeks ago.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate, and a Happy Fiesta Friday#217, co-hosted this week by Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl and Angie@ Fiesta Friday.

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Orange Sage Glazed Ham

Recipe Adapted from Tyler Florence

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Ingredients

  • 1 8-10 pound bone in, skin on spiral ham
  • Seasoned salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cubed
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place ham in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Using a sharp knife, score the ham with cuts across the skin, about 2-inches apart and 1/2-inch deep. Cut diagonally down the slashes to form a diamond pattern; season the meat generously with the seasoned salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the sage leaves and place in a small bowl with the orange zest. Drizzle in the oil to form a thick paste. Rub the paste all over the ham, making sure you get down into some of the slits. Bake uncovered for about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the orange juice, the butter, brown sugar, water, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Slowly cook down until it form a syrupy glaze—this will take 45-50 minutes.

At the end of the 90 minutes, pour all of the glaze over the ham, cinnamon sticks and all. Continue to bake and baste with the pan juices every 15 minutes for an additional 35-45 minutes. Crank the heat up to 400 to allow a dark sugary crust to form across the top of the ham, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the ham to rest before carving for about 15 minutes.

Spinach Ham Bread Pudding with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Hey y’all.

Sorry about missing last week. I don’t have a good excuse–I was just in an off mood and for some reason couldn’t get enough focus. I kept pushing back and procrastinating in writing the post until I finally just decided that it wasn’t going to happen. I have been doing quite a bit of both cooking and baking to try and perk myself up though, so you’ll get to see the product of that in the coming weeks.

When I cook and bake, I usually have a habit of making quite a bit of food at one time. This is mostly so that I don’t have to do very much heavy cooking throughout the week. I know it’s not for everyone, but we’re staunch believers in meal prep and leftovers round here. As such, I try and re-purpose the leftovers into new dishes, just to mix things up and not get bored.

Last week’s post were these English scones that I flavored with orange. Because I doubled the recipe we actually had quite a few left over and although it would’ve been fine to just eat them on their own, I got an idea for another way to use them.

We usually have breakfast for dinner once a week and I wanted to do something a bit different than biscuits or pancakes (either one is what I’ll usually make). When I saw that I also had some leftover ham in the fridge, I knew that there was one of two ways we could go with it: scone breakfast sandwiches, or I could go ahead and try to make a bread pudding-strata…thingy to share on the blog.

As you can see, the bread pudding-strata thingy won out.

First of all, I know that most strata and bread pudding recipes call for a French bread or a sturdy type of bread like challah or brioche to be used as the base. If you are in a hurry then you can of course go ahead and buy some in a store for this–it’ll still turn out great. However. If you’ve got the time, I really do recommend making and using the scones as the bread base. I know it may seem like an odd choice, as the scones are on the sweet side and this is a savory dish.

But they work. They really do. The orange flavor gives the dish a special taste that we agreed it wouldn’t have if I had just used regular bread. The next time I make this, you can bet I’ll be putting in the extra effort to and baking the scones to use as the base.

If ham is not your favorite protein, then you can definitely substitute it for another protein–sausage, turkey sausage, chicken-sausage. You could leave the meat out entirely if you’d like to make it vegetarian and just use mushrooms. Don’t sweat it too much. This bread pudding-strata thingy is very forgiving in terms of swapping out ingredients.

I know I could’ve left it plain and still had a tasty dish, but I’m a huge condiment lover. Plus, as most bread puddings DO have sauces on the side I decided I would make a sauce for this one.

This is what I like to call a little ‘recipe recycling’. You guys remember the spiced meatballs I made earlier last August? Well I decided on a whim to try and see if the sauce that I made to go along with the meatballs would also pair nicely with the bread pudding-strata thingy. The sauce looks like it’s a tomato base, but it’s actually roasted red peppers, roasted onions and roasted garlic that I pureed together in the blender, then simmered over the stove with smoked paprika and a few other spices. I really love it all on its own and I thought that it would be worth a try to see what else I could ‘recycle’ it with.

I was once again, pleasantly surprised. The sauce was a perfect smoky compliment to the bread pudding/strata, that in and of itself has a very nice balance of sweetness from the scones, and saltiness from the ham and cheese. Even with the meat and carbs, it filled me up without making me feel too full. I’m not really sure what the proper term for this thing would be considering that I think it somehow manages to check all the boxes of bread pudding, strata, casserole, and breakfast bake at the same time. I’m not sure the name of it really matters considering that we really liked this, and I think you would too. So why not give it a try?

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #214, co-hosted this week by Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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Spinach Ham Bread Pudding with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 4 cups 1-inch cubes of bread (I used these leftover English scones, but you’re free to use any kind of bread you like)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese

Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

  • 6-7 red bell peppers, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3 sweet yellow onions, cut in halves
  • 1 whole head of garlic, outer loose skin removed, but still whole
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix (optional, if you can’t find it you can always use cumin)
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Place the bread cubes in a medium size bowl and stir together with 1 cup of the milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bread has absorbed most of the liquid.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, garlic, sage, thyme and seasoned salt and pepper. Beat together with a fork.

Grease a shallow 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread half of the bread cubes in the dish. Scatter half of the ham, spinach and cheeses on top of the cubes in an even layer. Drizzle half of the egg-milk mixture over that. Repeat, layering the rest of the bread, then the ham/spinach and cheese, then pour the rest of the egg-milk on top.

Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover the dish then bake on the middle rack until the top is golden brown and the pudding is firm in the middle, 55-60 minutes. Serve warm with the sauce.

For the Sauce: Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes. Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle.

Meanwhile, crank oven up to 450°. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Drizzle the peppers with oil, salt & pepper, then arrange with the cut sides down on the pans. Roast in the oven until the skins have started to char & separate from the inner flesh and the peppers have started to collapse, about 25-30 minutes (you may need to rotate pans halfway to ensure even roasting).

Remove the peppers and onions to a bowl and cover with foil to allow to cool down, about 30 minutes. Once cool, use your fingers to rub away the outer skins of the red peppers (they should come away easily). Discard skins and place roasted veggies into a blender or food processor. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of the blender/processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily). Place the lid on, and puree the mixture together on high speed until very smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Pour in the beef broth and add the spices, Soy and Worcestershire sauces, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 20 minutes.

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

I have a confession to make.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I have a your attention yet? Good.

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

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

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

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Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

For Glaze

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

For Sausage Filling

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

For Bun Dough

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

 

 

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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