Cornflower Yeast Rolls

Cornflower Yeast Rolls1

Fear not: I come bearing carbs.

Plenty of carbs. Plenty of pretty carbs, at that.

For some of you that alone is enough to get your attention., amiright?

On the day that I made this particular batch of bread, I was on my own in the house and had a little bit more time than usual, so I decided I would play around a little bit with the dough. I doubled the below recipe and tested out 3 random, different shapes I’d been running through my mind lately to try out. I decided that whichever one turned out the prettiest, I would feature on the blog and tell you guys how to pull off yourselves.

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Well, the results are in. The first option was a Deep Cross Roll; I made individual balls of dough, cut deeply into them with a sharp knife with the intention that they would look like an inverted Hot Cross Bun without the white piped cross. (Fyi, it totally didn’t work, though I swear that it all made sense in my head at the time).

The second idea was for intricately woven cornmeal wreaths. These actually weren’t a complete flop. They did very strongly resemble wreaths, but I noticed that there was inconsistent proofing in the second rise so that some halves of the wreaths were bigger than the other half, which looked…weird and misshapen and not something I could manage to look pretty in a picture. Moving on.

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The third time really is the charm. My last idea was to take a technique similar to the one I’d done with the Pane di Pasqua I made for Easter, then do a little extra tucking and braiding to manipulate the individual bread rolls to resemble a kind of flower. It worked. Very well. I was a little concerned that they would go the way of their predecessors and resembled big indiscernible blobs of bread after baking, but t’was not the case.  These rolls proofed beautifully on the second rise and once they hit the hot oven, puffed up even more so that by the time they’re all finished they really DO look like complicated flowers of dough. The truth is, the technique is almost stupid easy so you get bragging rights on these without the extra drama that goes with complex baking projects.

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I tweaked the original concept for the recipe to what I think, are much better results. In the first place I kept with the new practice I’ve started of adding a single cup of whole wheat flour to my bread doughs in general. Guys, you really wouldn’t believe the difference this makes. As someone who prefers whole wheat bread, I certainly appreciate the addition of the whole wheat flour. Yet, even those who usually prefer white bread I think will STILL appreciate the subtle nutty flavor that it gives to the dough. What you get when you combine that nuttiness with the flavor of the cornmeal is something that has to be tried to be fully appreciated. The bread’s texture is soft and pillowy with just the right amount of chew.

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Don’t be intimidated by the shaping part of the dough. I know it may look fancy and complicated, but it isn’t. If you can wind two pieces of ribbon together, (loosely at that) then trust me: you can make these rolls. Seriously. Also don’t be worried if directly after you finish shaping them, they don’t look quite discernible as flowers. The second proofing and the baking in the oven will do the bulk of that work for you.

So, do these look similar to the actual blue cornflower flower? No. But I’m still going ahead and calling these Cornflower Yeast Rolls in a nod to that cornmeal flavor in the dough combined with the shape that I gave to them. KooKoo kachoo.

Taking myself and these rolls to this week’s Fiesta Friday #129, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love & Luck.

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Cornflower Yeast Rolls

Recipe Adapted from FoodNetwork.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg, divided.
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 to 5 cups all purpose white flour, as needed

Directions

Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter or margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allowing to cook until the mixture if slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110 degrees F). Sprinkle the 1 tsp of sugar on top and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy.

Combine cornmeal mixture, yeast, and 2 well-beaten eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment to combine together.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, add the cup of whole wheat  first, mixing to combine completely.  Add enough of the all purpose white flour to make a soft dough. It should be a smooth,pliable dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, but also not too dry.

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

When dough has doubled in size, remove from bowl and divide in half. Dive the halves in half.

Pinch off two dough balls about the size of ping pong balls and roll/shape them into logs. Pinch the top ends of both logs together, then braid them together.(This is going to take some patience. Have a small cup of water handy just in case your dough loses its moistness–it’s easier to roll out when it stays moist.Dip your fingers in the cup of water and rub a little bit of the water over the dough balls before you roll them out. Also, don’t worry about it if the ropes shrink a little bit after you roll them out; it’s not that big of a deal.)

Once the logs are braided, take the bottom end and roll it up (like a spring or a wheel), pinching the bottom end into the top one and tucking it under. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the finished ‘flowers’ on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover the finished flowers with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Let rise in warm place or until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take the remaining egg and beat it in a small bowl with about a tablespoon of water. Brush the beaten egg over the proofed rolls and sprinkled with cornmeal.

 Bake rolls for 12 to 15 minutes.

Onion Naan

Onion Naan 1

So, it’s been over two years since I last made naan-style bread.

That’s a long time for me to wait to make something that I enjoy so much. But there was a pretty valid reason for it.If you’ve been following me and my blog for a while then you might remember this story. But if you haven’t been following and/or don’t remember then…what the heck? I’ll recap.

See, the last time that I did make naan, I kiiiiiinda started a fire in my oven.

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Oh, yeah. You read that right.

I made one or two pretty serious (and in retrospect, quite silly) mistakes and those mistakes ended up starting a fire. Not to worry. It wasn’t a huge one. No extinguisher was needed. 911 was not called. Everyone is fine. But it still kinda freaked me out.

Since it was my first time making naan I had done some research and seen that the majority of chefs and recipes recommended making it on a pizza stone in the oven with the heat cranked up nice and high–as in, as hot as it could possibly get in order to get those  lovely dark blistered spots on the surface of the naans.

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Since I did have a pizza stone, I figured that I should keep up with Joneses and go ahead and use it. The problem came around after the dough had had its final rest and it was time to actually cook them. I was supposed to brush them with melted butter, then plop them down on the pizza stone for about 1-2 minutes per side.

These…were not very good instructions.

In retrospect I really cannot believe I was so stupid. I mean…extremely high heat and melted grease just don’t typically mix well together in any capacity. I should’ve known better and known to make the judgment call to just brush the butter on AFTER the naans had done cooking. But I didn’t.

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So, what happened was, the butter was sliding off the naan and onto the pizza stone. This wasn’t such a big deal in the beginning. But then, it started sliding off the stone and onto the oven floor. The 500 degree fahrenheit oven floor. You see where this is going, right? After about the third or fourth naan, there was a mini flare up in the oven. I screamed. Then I shut the oven off, walked out of the kitchen and sat down in a chair to calm down.

About oh…fifteen minutes later I went back in the kitchen, feeling pretty calm and chill. I pulled out a non-stick skillet from the cabinet,  put it over the stovetop and  turned the heat on medium.

Then, I finished the rest of my naans. They were delicious. Fast forward two years later. I was making an Indian entree dish for the first time and I just knew that it wasn’t going to feel complete without some from-scratch naan bread to eat with on the side.

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I was prepared for it this time. I knew that I could probably go ahead and use the pizza stone again without having the same incident that I did before, but with summer fast approaching and a tiny kitchen through which the A/C doesn’t ventilate as well as it could, who feels like cranking up the oven to a million degrees? Not me. So I just went ahead and used my non-stick skillet to cook my naans once again. And as you can see, it didn’t force a sacrifice at all on getting the lovely blistered prints on the dough.

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Notes on the actual recipe: Dice the onions as small as you possibly can. When onions get VERY small and thin and are exposed to high heat, they sometimes disintegrate. This actually will work in your favor; the flavor of the onion becomes even more absorbed in the dough that way and it’s more tha flavor that you want and not so much a chunk of onion in your mouth. There is flexibility in using regular butter or vegetable oil in the recipe, but I’m going to go ahead and insist that you make an effort to use the ghee. As someone who has made it both ways, there IS a noticeable difference in the taste when using ghee as opposed to vegetable oil. Plus, ghee is something that can usually be found down the ethnic/foreign foods aisle of most standard grocery stores.

Notes aside, This bread is SO good. The onion flavor is just outstanding. I actually prefer this recipe to the one I’ve used before; the bread comes out VERY chewy and tender on the inside and also reheats VERY well in the microwave whereas sometimes leftover naans can have a tendency to get tough. Really good stuff here, guys.

Happy Fiesta Friday weekend #121 as well. Happy Memorial Day to all of us in the States 😉

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Onion Naan

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)*
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

*I didn’t have any yogurt at the time that I made this; instead I used 1 cup of buttermilk. It worked fine, you just may not need to use it all.

Directions

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl to blend. Add yeast mixture, onion, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons ghee. Mix dough until blended but still shaggy.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until a smooth dough forms, adding flour as needed (dough will be sticky), about 5 minutes. Lightly grease another large bowl with ghee, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into 10 pieces. Using floured hands, roll each piece into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest 10 minutes

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with ghee. Working with 1 piece at a time, stretch dough with your hands or roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Iced Cornmeal Cookies

Iced Cornmeal Cookies1

Have you ever really wanted to try something, but you kept putting it off because you just weren’t sure if it would actually work?

I have. In fact, as a naturally cautious (if not downright paranoid person) this tends to happen to me a lot.

I have had I don’t know how many tv shows in my Netflix Instant queue for months. I put them there because I initially thought that they sounded interesting and wanted to give them a shot to see if I would like the show. But then, I never start watching them, because I’m juuuuuust not sure if the shows would be something that I liked. I mean, once they’re gone, I can never get those 45 minutes of my life back.

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I’ve got one loooooooong Amazon wishlist, full of things that I want, but have yet to actually order.

But this one may be less about my being paranoid and cautious, and more about me being broke 9 times out of 10.

As it turns out, most of the time, when I’m overly cautious about trying something new, it usually has to do with food. I’m NOTORIOUSLY picky/cautious when it comes to my food.

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I’m “that person” who only ever orders ONE thing off the menu of a restaurant or take out place. I’m far too paranoid that the one time I decide to be ‘bold’ and ‘daring’, and order something new, it’ll blow up in my face and I’ll absolutely hate it. So not only will I have wasted my money, but I’ll also have to choke down food that I don’t even like, resulting in an unsatisfying meal- which is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves.

I don’t even like straying from the script when it comes to my coffee.

My general philosophy with food is, if it ain’t broke, then I sure ain’t gonna try to fix it.

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But sometimes, I break character and try to eat and cook new foods.

It turns out that having a food blog will give you a rather sizable boot in the rear, so far as that goes.

As a result, I have a full Pinterest board of recipes from other blogs and websites of foods that really caught my attention and made me want to try out for myself. Today’s recipe was one of them; it’s been there for over a year at least.

See? I told you I was overly cautious.

The most intriguing element to this recipe for me was the inclusion of cornmeal in the cookie dough. I was just wildly curious as to what that would taste like; I had SO many questions.

Would the cookies be sweet? Would the texture be too rough/coarse because of the cornmeal? Would they be soft or crunchy? Would they even taste good at all?

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For my own personal preferences, I decided to bake the cookies for as little time as possible so that they would be soft. I assumed by the smell and taste of the raw dough (yes, I eat raw cookie dough. Don’t judge me) that they would be similar to sugar cookies. And I insist upon having my sugar cookies iced. So I then whipped up a quick and easy icing to spread on top and added nonpareils for color.

The finished product?

Well first of all, they’re very good. So that was a huge relief.

Second, I can honestly say that I’ve never had cookies like these before ;the cornmeal is really the star ingredient here. It gives the cookies such a unique texture and flavor. Although I went with vanilla extract and icing, I could see citrus zest like lemon or orange working VERY well with these.

All in all, my risk taking paid off. Which made me a very happy camper 🙂

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Iced Cornmeal Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for shaping
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • multi-colored nonpareils, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto two large baking sheets; flatten slightly with floured fingertips. Bake until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies immediately to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For Icing: combine the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies, then decorate with nonpareil sprinkles. Allow icing to harden, about 30 minutes.

Harvest Apple Challah

Apple Harvest Challah4

Sometimes life is just made up of everyday annoyances, irritations, unfortunate circumstances and overall ‘sucky-‘ things.

It snowed earlier this week in Michigan.

End of April. We got snow.

I’m sorry to say that round here,  that’s nothing new. My senior year of high school, we got a full blown snow storm on Easter Sunday. I still remember going out to shovel the sidewalk in blowing snow when we got home from church.

It sucked.

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Oftentimes I can shrug off suck-y things as exactly that: suck-y things. For example:

Snow in April.

Random, unexpected and extremely inconvenient cooking fails (when I specifically planned on doing a photo shoot for the blog that day).

My paycheck doesn’t have a few extra zeros at the end.

Sucks.

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I’ve never been to Europe.

Stephanie Meyer is a gazillionaire and a bestselling ‘author’, and I’m…not either of those things.

Chris Evans hasn’t figured out that we’re meant to be together and proposed to me.

I don’t have the thighs of a Victoria Secret Model.

Sucks.

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But for every one of the daily, inconvenient ‘suck-y’ circumstances of every day life, I bet we all can think of just as many (if not more) convenient, not suck-y circumstances that make up for all that. I certainly can.

For one: challah. Challah is one of my all-time favorite things ever, period. It’s beautiful. It’s delicious. It’s the best.

Challah can make up for a lot of those daily suck-y things.

(Except maybe the one about Chris Evans. That still smarts pretty bad no matter what.)

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Somehow, I always end up baking challah around this time of year. Last year, I went all out and made regular Challah and a Vanilla Bean Challah. This year, I still wanted to try and make a twist on the original so I decided to go with this recipe for Challah stuffed with apples.

Challah itself can be a labor of love if you’re keen on twisting the dough into elaborate shapes. Or if you’re like me, and still has to Google EVERY SINGLE TIME how to correctly braid the dough no matter how many times I’ve made this bread before. This apple challah is, I will admit, somewhat more  labor intensive.

However, it’s worth it. More than worth it.

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As you guys can see, this dough is as soft, fluffy and moist as a bread dough can get. The fat challah rolls pull apart at the slightest tug, letting the tender apple chunks fall out into your hands. Best of all, the filling leaks out ever so little so that the bottom of the dough has a thin layer of syrupy brown sugar goo. And of course, there’s the trademark challah golden brown crust on top that is ever so ‘thunk-able’ with your fingers so that you know for sure that you’ve done it right.

So.much.yum.

Definitely does not suck.

If I had to critique one thing about this recipe, it’s that I had way too much dough to try and stuff into a 9 inch cake pan. Mine wasn’t wide or tall enough by far, so I opted for one of deep, oval casserole pans instead. I think it gave me a much bigger rise for my dough anyway, so that was totally cool with me.

Cheers, guys!

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Harvest Apple Challah

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

For Apple Filling

  • 2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾” chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse white sugar, optional

 Directions

1) Pour water in a small bowl; add yeast and 1 tsp. white sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and foamy at the surface.

2) Pour yeast mixture into a stand mixer and add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and salt, stirring well to combine. Using dough hook add the flour, 1 cup at  a time until dough is smooth and elastic.

3) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

4) Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan that’s at least 2″ deep, or grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan.  Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8″ x 10″.

5) Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough. Fold a short edge of the dough over the apple to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.  Spread the remaining apple atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly. Basically, you’ve folded the dough like a letter, enclosing the apples inside. Take a bench knife or a knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces. Cut in half, then each half in halves, etc.  Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer (barely). Lots of apple chunks will fall out during this process; just tuck them in among the dough pieces, or simply spread them on top. Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s a generous 2″ high. It should just crest the rim of a 9″ round cake pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325°F.

6) Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired. If you’re going to drizzle with honey before serving, omit the sugar. Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove the challah from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls1

One of things that I am really proud of myself for learning how to do in the kitchen is bake fresh bread. It takes some getting used to in the beginning, and to be honest there are still things I have to learn but once you get the hang of it, going back to store bought bread pretty much becomes impossible. I can’t really explain in detail what the difference is, but I suspect that is has something to do with the preservatives found in store bread, especially white bread. I can literally taste the preservatives they put in it- it almost leaves a sour aftertaste in my mouth that’s just really unpleasant, so I don’t even touch the stuff anymore. If I’m eating white bread at all, it’s only because I made it myself first. The aftertaste of THAT stuff is pretty darn good if I may say so myself. But my point is, whenever we run out of bread in my house, I know that I just have to make some more. Needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for new yeast bread recipes to try out just to keep things around here interesting.

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I remember it was about a year or so ago where I was writing up a post complaining about how I was struggling to get my yeast bread doughs to rise on sheet pans. It just wouldn’t work, and frustrated me to no end. Whenever I shaped and set my dough out for its second rise on the sheet pan, most time it just barely expanded, if at all. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, especially whenever I would make the bread in round pans or in pyrex glass dishes, it worked out beautifully. For a while, I just avoided baking bread in sheet pans altogether, but recently I decided to try and get back on the horse again and slightly tweak my methods in the second rise to see if that would yield different results. These crescent rolls were my guinea pigs.

How do you guys think I did?

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Well I’ll just go ahead and say it if you won’t: I think it turned out rather well. Here’s what I changed in case you were curious.

See, in the past what I was doing was using very large sheet pans for my second rise and spacing the rolled out dough pretty far apart from each other. I’m no food scientist like Alton Brown or the folks at America’s Test Kitchen but what I THINK was happening in my previous attempts was that rather than expanding ‘up’ on the second rise and giving that heightened fluffiness that you see in the above picture, my dough was expanding ‘out’ since there was so much space between each individual one and giving it the appearance of being flatter. Now is it possible that the dough would eventually rise and become taller? Yeah probably, but I do think that it would’ve taken longer than an hour or two so long as I was using the larger sheet pans.

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So what I did this time around was use one of the smallest sheet pans that I had for my second dough rise, which left a much smaller space between each one of the crescent rolls- this way, the only place that the dough would have to ‘go’ when expanding would be ‘up’; get it? Also, I dampened a clean kitchen towel and placed it over the sheet pan of crescents, put the whole thing in my overhead microwave, then turned on my oven. The heat from my oven created a warmth inside the microwave that combined with the damp cloth created a humidity that made it into a kind of DIY proof-box, so to speak.

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This time after the second rise, I was having the exact opposite problem that I’d been having with sheet pans all along: now, the dough had proofed and risen so well that they were all nearly crammed together slightly rising up over the pan itself. But I didn’t care about that: I was too busy doing Snoopy/Victory dances from finally overcoming my sheet pan-bread baking woes. Plus, who was I to get upset over jumbo size crescent rolls that baked up so golden and pretty like these ones did here? Nobody, that’s who.

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Wait a minute; I’m completely forgetting that there’s vegetables in these crescents, which is crazy since the sweet potatoes are what give them the deliciously golden orange color. But they’re there: one whole cup of fresh sweet potato mash. Which, you know should make you feel pretty good about eating one of these…or two…or…another undisclosed amount.

….Why are you guys staring at me like that?

So I think the moral of the story here is that when encountering difficulties in the kitchen, just keep at it. Even if it doesn’t work the first, second or third time. I did. And I think my diligence was rewarded.

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Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Recipe Courtesy of Red Star Yeast via Completely Delicious

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/2 tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (about 1 medium) sweet potato puree

 Directions

1. In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, warm the butter, honey and milk until butter is melted and mixture begins to steam. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, or until the temperature is between 120-130 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 1½ cups of the flour with the yeast, salt and nutmeg. Add the milk mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each, followed by the sweet potato puree. With the mixer on low, add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until dough clears the side of the bowl but is still slightly sticky to the touch. You may not need all 4 cups of flour.

3. Continue to knead the dough in the mixer until it is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Gently punch down dough and knead a few times. Cover it with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

5. On a clean surface roll the dough out into a 16-inch circle. Using a pizza slicer, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with each piece individually, roll the dough up starting with the fat end. Place the roll on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper so the skinny point is on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and rise again for 30 minutes.

6. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Sally Lunn Bread

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I wonder just how exactly a person gets a food, dish or meal named after him or her.

I only bring up the subject because I think that it would be pretty cool. I mean, if there’s anything that’s stood the test of time, it’s food. It’s not going anywhere. People have always got to eat. So even if you don’t have any children to pass on your name to, if you have a food named in your honor that turns out to be pretty good, then you’ve got a good chance of standing the test of time so to speak, right?

Sure enough, I know of several famous foods with people’s names in them that have been around for a while. I also just Googled some. Cause why not?

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According to Wikipedia (which y’know, is SUCH a reliable source, winkwink)General Tso Chicken was apparently named after a famous Chinese general during the Qing Dynasty from the Hunan province. Although apparently, the people from the actual place have never heard of it, and the real General Tso couldn’t have eaten it the way it’s prepared now anyway.

I bet you thought that the Caesar salad was named after the famous Roman emperor, right? WRONG! It actually got it’s name from a chef called Caesar Cardini from Mexico who came up with the salad  when the few basic ingredients were all that he had on hand.

Graham Crackers were first brought about by a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham. He got the ‘brilliant’ idea in his head that coarsely ground wheat flour biscuits would subdue sexual urges. No comment on what I think about that.

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The Margarita drink was brought about by a Dallas socialite named Margaret Sames who put together the flavor combinations while on a vacation in Mexico. I can’t personally say that I think she was successful as Margaritas really aren’t my thing, but no one asked me so moving on.

Salisbury Steak came from an American surgeon during the civil war that believed that vegetables and starches were health hazards; so he came up with the idea of mixing ground beef up with onions and prescribing it 3 times a day with hot water in order to flush out toxins.

The legend of Beef Welllington originated with the winning of the Battle of Waterloo by Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. The Duke’s chef made him the pastry wrapped beef in the shape of a Wellington boot.

Sally Lunn Bread4

Then there’s Sally Lunn Bread. This tradition got started with a young Huguenot refugee from France named Solange Lyon who immigrated to Bath in 1680 and found work in a bakery in Lilliput Alley. Solange eventually became famous for a delicious brioche style bread she would make, and as its fame spread, her name gradually took on the name Sally Lunn. Thus, the Sally Lunn bread was sensationalized.  It eventually made its way across the pond and into Southern cooking, which is how my grandma came to hear of it and make it as a breakfast bread for her daughters smeared with butter and jam.

This is one of my family’s favorite breads for me to make. It’s thick, spongy, chewy and slightly sweet. We eat it all on it’s own as a side for dinner but I think it would also make an excellent base for French Toast or stratas. Plus, it has a really cool name.

By the way, this post just begs the question: what do I have to do to get  someone to name a food after me?

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Sally Lunn Bread

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

Recipe Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (100°-110°)
  • 2. Stir
  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100°-110°)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and let stand 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed.

2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. (Dough will look shaggy).

3. Stir together warm water and baking soda. Stir yeast mixture , soda mixture and melted butter into flour mixture until well blended.

4. Spoon batter into a well greased 10-inch (14 cup) tube pan, or split equally between 2 well greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80°-85°), 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 400°. Carefully place pan(s) in oven. Don’t agitate the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a wooden stick inserted in center comes out clean and when internal temperature reaches 190°.

6.Wait ten minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Wait 30 minutes before slicing.

Cardamom Print Wafers

Cardamom Print Wafers2

I’ve only done actual Christmas caroling a handful of times in my life- but I remember that I loved it. One of the times I can clearly remember is when I was still in elementary school and the children’s choir went caroling to the governor’s mansion. It was a quiet, slightly snowy night and after we sang a few songs, I can remember being invited inside to a big beautiful ‘house’ where we got served hot chocolate, cookies and candy in a ‘study’ type of room with bright golden lights. As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t mind if 1 or 2 of the people in your group are off-key and love to laugh, then caroling is a blast. Plus, people usually give you free food as a way to say ‘thank you’.

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Everyone ‘s got their own favorite Christmas carols, and I’m no exception. However, my favorites have shifted throughout the years. Now I’m willing to admit that I just can’t pick one as my favorite. I’ve got several. Okay, more than that.

The Holiday Playlist on my ipod’s got over 100 songs. Yeah. I really love Christmas songs.’

When I was very young, around 5 or 6, my favorite Christmas carol was The First Noel. I loved the melody and would always hum the last part to myself, “Born is the King of Israel,” over and over again.

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Then when I was around 8 or 9, it was Silver Bells- but that was because at the time (mid 90’s), there was a commercial that would constantly come on at Christmas time with the Silver Bells melody playing in the background that I really liked. After that, I think it was Angels We Have Heard on High- although to be honest, I went YEARS without even knowing what some of the lyrics were because I was too young to understand that some of the lyrics were in Latin (“in excelsis deo IS Latin, right? Right??).

Christmastime is Here was my favorite Christmas Carol in middle school; I heard it played once on the piano at a holiday party and just fell in love with it. That one’s still remained one of my favorites over the years, and I have a few versions of it on my playlist, including the Vince Guaraldi classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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Honorable mentions should also go out to Give Love on Christmas Day, The Christmas Song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Christmas Tree, O What a Merry Christmas Day, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells.

As many of them as I like, there are also other carols that I don’t really care for: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Away in a Manger. I guess I just don’t really like the ‘story’ Christmas carols all that much.

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Today’s recipe is super, super easy to put together, but still packs a great punch. These cookies are thin, slightly crisp but still somewhat chewy in the centeer. The cardamom gives it a very unique spicy bite that combined with the cinnamon really reminds me of a delicious Speculoos biscuit. Hands down, these are meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. I decided to leave them plain and just let the design from the cookie stamps speak for themselves- these are honestly good enough to stand without icing or sprinkles.

If you still need to catch up on the 12 Days of Christmas Series we’re doing, I’m still including a list of the past recipes and posts below 🙂

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Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 8: Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Day 9: Biscochitos

Day 10: Cardamom Print Wafers

Cardamom Print Wafers

Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Cookies for Christmas

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp, ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

 Directions

1. Stir together flour, cardamom, cinnamon and salt.

2. In a small mixer bowl, beat til fluffy, Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

3. Stir in flour mixture till well mixed. Cover and chill about 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

4. Shape into 3/4 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten firmly with a floured cookie stamp or the bottom of a glass with a design in it.

5. Bake in a 350° oven about 8 minutes. Remove and cool.

Pan de Muerto- Day of the Dead Bread

Pan de Muerto1

Last night was (as we all know) Halloween. However, it was also the start of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It was something that I hadn’t even heard of until I was in middle school, and a traveling performing arts troupe did a short dramatization for us. To this day, I still remember being intrigued by it, and that started what continues to be a mild fascination with the Day of the Dead.

For those that haven’t heard of it, don’t freak out. It’s not a morbid, gothic thing exactly. In fact, after studying the history behind the holiday itself, you find out that it’s actually a very meaningful part of ancient Hispanic culture.

Pan de Muerto2

So let’s take it back. Way back. Back into time. When the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs around 1521, they tried to force Catholicism upon them in an attempt to try and eradicate their ancient religious rituals. In Catholicism, there are holidays called All Saints Day and All Souls Day that takes place November 1st and 2nd of every year. Although a large part of the Aztec culture was suppressed by the Spaniards, they still managed to preserve bits and pieces of their culture even in the midst of their oppression and cultural suppression. The Day of the Dead was one of those results.

Celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd, it’s a shortened version of the Aztec Mictecacihuatl festival that gives honor and memoriam to loved ones who have passed away. One of the most common practices for the Day of the Dead is to build beautiful altars with flowers, candles, pictures of dead loved ones, as well as various Mexican foods. One of the most important of these foods is the Pan de Muerto- or in English, the Bread of the Dead.

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I’ve been waiting for months now to make this bread, not just because I thought the ingredients sounded great, but also because I think it’s just really cool to look at. The bread’s shape is representative of the Day of the Dead itself, with the dough being shaped into bones that are topped with a skull.

I’ll be honest, this reminds me a lot of the Jewish egg-based Challah bread, with the very notable exception of the anise in the Pan de Muerto that gives it a slight licorice aftertaste, as well as the delicious cinnamon sugar that gets sprinkled on the top just before it goes into the oven. It’s very tender and soft on the inside, and would also be perfect for later use in bred puddings or french toast.

Plus like I said: isn’t it just SO cool to look at?

Oh yeah, and those people in the picture? My great-grandparents, Isaac and Lily-Mae Haynes. They’ve passed away, so in a way I guess this bread is for them. Happy Día de los Muertos!

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Pan de Muerto- Day of the Dead Bread

Recipe Courtesy of “Bake” by Edward Gee

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Put the yeast into a large bowl with the water, stir to dissolve, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the milk into a saucepan set over medium heat, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and add butter, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt. Stir until dissolved. Add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture.

2. Add one egg and the flour to the liquid ingredients, mix to combine, then knead until a smooth, silky dough forms. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into four pieces. Set one piece aside. Using the palms of your hands, shape each of the remaining pieces into three ropes of equal length.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper. Weave the three dough ropes into a braid and join the ends to make a round loaf. Take the reserved piece of dough and shape it into 2 bones and a skull. Arrange these on top of the loaf and press lightly. Put on the prepared baking sheet and let rise for 45 minutes, to an hour.

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix together the anise, cinnamon, and the remaining sugar in a small bowl. Beat the remaining egg and brush it onto the braided dough (do not brush the skull and bones), then sprinkle with the anise mixture.

6. Bake the bottom of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden. If it’s browning too quickly, cover with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

Pumpkin Rolls2

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen!!!

What’s everyone’s plans for tonight? Anyone going out with kids for trick or treating? Got a Halloween party you’re going to? What are you dressing up as?

I’ve always liked dressing up for Halloween and although I haven’t gotten to do it very often, I still have some ‘Wish-List’ costumes that I’d love to be able to do someday.

1) A 20’s flapper is definitely something I’d like to be- with the bobbed hair, flashy dress and pearls to go with it.

2) I’d LOVE to dress up in a fancy Venetian Masquerade ballgown and mask, with an elegant hairdo.

3) I’d love to be Harley Quinn, as long as I could have a guy go with me as the Joker.

4) One of the “Grease” Pink Ladies.

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5) Black Widow- because that cat suit Scarlett Johannson wore in “The Avengers”  was everything.

6) I’d love to be one of the fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood or the Queen of Hearts. (And no, I don’t mean one of those costumes that make you look like you should be standing on a street corner, if you know what I mean. I think that there are plenty of ways you can make a costume beautiful and tastefully done without it being too slutty.)

7) If I ever get a boyfriend, I am GOING to be Christine and make him dress up as the Phantom of the Opera. He will have absolutely no choice or say in the matter. It’s a prerequisite if he wants to date me.

Unfortunately, I’m not doing anything special in particular like dressing up or going to any parties. But I am staying in my kitchen- which is plenty ‘special’ enough for me.

Pumpkin Rolls1

I’ve known for a while now that I was going to make this dish for Halloween. Cinnamon rolls have been on my Cooking Bucket  List for a while, and I had a can of pumpkin that was languishing in my pantry, without very much to do. That set the perfect stage for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

It was my first time making cinnamon rolls, and I think they turned out pretty good for a beginner like moi. I walked away with a few things to keep in mind for next time: roll the dough VERY tight so the sugar filling doesn’t leak out while the dough is going through their second rise, and don’t be afraid to place them pretty close together in the pan so that they can rise higher up rather than further out.

Aside from all that, the taste is really spot on for these. For one, they make your house smell like every yummy Autumn pastry imaginable while they’re baking. The pumpkin flavor admittedly isn’t very overpowering, but I’m actually okay with that as sometimes the taste of pumpkin can be a little abrasive. I know that crystallized ginger isn’t the cheapest spice to buy, but if you can afford it I gotta strongly recommend that you don’t leave it out. It gives spiciness to the filling that balances the sweetness of the sugar, while the dried cherries give it an acidic tang. I iced my rolls almost as soon as they came out of the oven so that the icing would melt into the crevices of the dough rather than just sit on top of it in thick globs. Tastes better that way. Also, these save very well in the refrigerator; when ready to eat another one just wrap it in paper towel, sprinkle with a few drops of water then microwave for about 15-20 seconds. It’ll still taste pretty fresh.

These rolls are going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #40, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Margy @La Petite Casserole and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. See you all there.

Pumpkin Rolls4

Halloween is one of my absolute favorite times of year, but not for the reason that you may think.

It’s not that I don’t like dressing up in costumes. I do. It’s not that I don’t like candy. I definitely do. But the arrival of Halloween marks the arrival of something infinitely more thrilling and exciting for me than costumes or sweets (and if you know me, then you know that that’s really saying something).

I look forward to October 31st because it marks the final day before I officially begin my countdown to Christmas.

Me and my twin sister are obsessed with Christmas, and as such, we try to get in our Holiday spirit as soon as is reasonably possible. I know that other people wait until Thanksgiving, but that’s way too late for me. I like the extra month to start listening to my Christmas playlist on my mp3 player and Pandora radio stations, and start planning all the wonderful goodies that I’m going to make for the 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking Is My Sport.

Speaking of which, I am willing to take special requests for that ahead of time. I need 12 recipes for 12 Christmas goodies to post on the blog. Suggestions? Don’t be shy 😉

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Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

  • Servings: 9-12 rolls
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or squash
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup minced, crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup glazing or confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk, or enough to make a “drizzlable” glaze

Directions

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it’s almost doubled in bulk.

3) Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14″ x 22″ rectangle; the dough will be thin.

4) Mix the cinnamon and sugar. Spread a thin layer over the dough, leaving one short edge free of filling.

5) Sprinkle with crystallized ginger or dried fruit (or both), if desired.

6) Starting with the short end that’s covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.

7) Cut the log into nine 1 ½”-thick rolls.

8) Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9″ x 9″ pan that’s at least 2″ deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

9) Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and feel set.(Internal temp should be about 185-190 degrees F) Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack.

10) To make the glaze: Heat the butter and milk together till the butter melts. Whisk into the sugar.

11) Drizzle the rolls with the warm glaze. (For a thinner layer, spread with icing almost as soon as you take them out of the oven. For a thicker icing, let them cool for about 15 minutes, then spread with icing.) 

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts

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I’d like to take this opportunity to drop a few nuggets of truth on all of you, if that’s okay.

Nobody is normal. Nobody.

Fears are nothing more than stories that we tell ourselves.

A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

Nothing is really lost- until your mom can’t find it, that is. Then, it’s just gone forever.

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Lastly ( and perhaps most  importantly)…it is always, ALWAYS, a good ‘time to make the donuts’.

For those that may not know, the Dunkin’ Donuts company featured a commercial with a character named Fred the Baker who appeared in commercials with the trademark ‘catchphrase’: “Time to Make the Donuts”. It was a pretty popular ad, and was also parodied in one of my favorite Saturday Night Live sketches with Jon Lovitz. It’s really all I could think about when I was putting this post together, and I think that that really says something to the centrality of donuts in life in general. Think about it: there’s no time, event or circumstance when it’s not a good time for some donuts.

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Had a lousy day at work? Time to make/eat some donuts.

 Your favorite team won the game? Time to make/eat some donuts.

Fight with the spouse/significant other? Time to make/eat some donuts.

Payday? Time to make/eat some donuts.

Fiesta Friday? Definitely time to make/eat some donuts.

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I mentioned in some of my earlier posts that I recently got into the mood to make some donuts from scratch. My sisters wanted these Cinnamon Bun Doughnuts and Apple Cider Donuts. And me, well I wanted these.

A good old fashioned sour cream donut just like the ones you get from the bakery.

Guys. Guys, guys, guuuuuuuuys.

Drop whatever you’re doing, print out this recipe and get in your kitchen. ‘Cause it’s time to make the donuts. These donuts. Right now.

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This recipe is so good, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between these donuts, and ones you would buy from a bakery. The dough creates the perfect browned, crusty crevices that have just enough body for the icing to seep into, solidify and form the most delightful pools of pure sugary goodness. It’s just what a sour cream donut should be, and I meant JUST: golden brown and crusty on the outside, soft and  flakey tender on the inside, with the sour cream giving it just enough of a subtle tang to complement the sweetness of the icing. One of the best donuts, I’ve ever had, hands down.

And yeah, I’m more than a little pleased and proud that I was the one to make them.

I’m bringing these donuts to this week;s Fiesta Friday #38 hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Hilda and Julianna. Don’t fight over  them all at once, guys. There’s plenty enough to go round-for now…

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Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts

Recipe Adapted from Completely Delicious via  Hand Forged Doughnuts

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts

Ingredients

For Donuts

  • 2 1/4 cup (255 grams) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter flavored shortening
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) sour cream
  • Canola oil, for frying

For Glaze

  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water

Directions

1. In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar together until sandy. Add the egg yolks and mix until light and thick.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl down as necessary. The dough will be sticky. Spoon it into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

4. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a donut cutter or two differently sized biscuit cutters to cut out as many donuts as possible, dipping the cutters into flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

5. Pour the canola oil into a heavy bottomed pot to at least 2 inches deep. Heat to 325 degrees F. Add the donuts to the heated oil a few at a time, careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry on each side about 2 minutes, but watch to make sure they don’t burn.

6. Let drain on a paper bag to soak up the excess grease.

7. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

8. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for a few days.