English Muffin Toasting Bread


So. Here’s the situation. You’re afraid of baking with yeast. You think that it’s only meant to be used by pastry chefs, grandmothers and Martha Stewart. You may have tried it once or twice before to disastrous results. So now, you avoid it at all costs and stick to the store bought stuff.

The first thing you should realize is that you’re not alone. Plenty of people are intimidated by yeast. I used to be one of them.

The second thing you should know is that in spite of your fears and/or bad past experiences, you too can bake with yeast. You really can.

As much as I love baking now, I’m not so good or full of myself that I can’t remember the days when I wasn’t good at it–the days when baking used to just straight up humble me.

Heck, there are some days when I mess something up and it still does.

There are also days when I too doubt my own abilities and whether or not I’m actually ‘good’ at this, or just a really good faker. On those days, I tend to keep things in my kitchen simple so that I don’t create situations where I’m prone to mess up.

Today’s recipe is the third thing that I want y’all to know about, as this is a recipe that uses yeast, yet I can still guarantee you will be fool-proof and deliver a delicious result. The ingredients and steps are minimal. There’s so kneading or shaping required. You probably have everything you need to make it already. The only thing that you’re missing is belief in yourself and that it’ll actually work.

That’s where I come in: I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it, and that it WILL work. There are no hard parts/steps to this, but because I know you’re nervous about using the yeast, I’ll walk you through the step twice; once here and again in the actual recipe:

First, check the date on the package of the yeast to make sure it’s fresh enough. Good. Now, when you warm the milk, water and oil over the stove I don’t want you to freak out if you don’t have an instant read thermometer. It won’t make or break the recipe; the senses mother nature gave you will work just fine. The temperature you’re looking for is going to be just over baby bottle warm, but not too hot that it stings your finger. So long as you don’t feel a sting, it’s not too hot.

Sprinkle the yeast on top. Then, sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Why? The sugar will speed up the proofing of the yeast. (I can’t remember where I learned that trick, but I never make bread without doing it now; it’s that effective.) Wait ten minutes. At the end of them, you should have frothy, poofed up yeast (and provided you followed my instructions, you will.)

From there, literally the only thing else you do is mix everything else together and slap it into a loaf pan. You wait a few minutes for it to rise, the you wait a few more for it to bake. Then, you’re done. No kneading. No shaping. As Ina would say “How easy was that?”

This obviously looks nothing like traditional round English muffins, but I like to think that this bread gets its name from the inner texture. Like English muffins, it has a coarse, close-textured crumb. Because this crumb is so tight, it’s perfect for catching & pockets of butter, jam, peanut butter or anything else you want to smear on top of it. This bread makes the absolute, the MOST divine toast. It’s delicious on its own, but it was practically made for becoming thick, buttery slices of toast. Or even better yet…French-toasting.

Whatever your yeast insecurities may be, I beg you to put them aside at least enough to try this. If it doesn’t work, I give you permission to come back here and yell at me–but I’m positive you won’t. If anything you’ll be coming back to tell me I was right; you COULD bake with yeast, and this bread was SO delicious.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #216, co-hosted by Petra @ Love Food Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

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English Muffin Toasting Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling in the pan

Directions

Combine the water, milk and oil in a small saucepan and heat gently over the stove to about 120-130°F. Remove from the heat, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Allow to rest until proofed and frothy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Use the paddle attachment of the standing mixer, or the beater attachment of a handheld one to mix/beat at high speed for 1 minute; the dough will be smooth and very soft. Or, you can use your hands to mix together until smooth and beginning to feel elastic, about 2-3 minutes. (It’ll still be slightly sticky)

Grease a 8 x 4 loaf pan and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal. Scoop the soft, sticky dough into the pan and use a spatula to try and smooth out the top as much as possible.

Cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until it’s just starting to crown over the pan. The timing for this can vary—mine rose VERY quickly in about 30 minutes, but if yours hasn’t, you can give it another 30. What’s important is that you don’t let it rise TOO high above the pan before baking.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Uncover and place loaf pan on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack for about 20-27 minutes until bread is golden brown. Inner bread temp should reach 190-200°F.

Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing the loaf and allowing to cool completely. Serve sliced thick with butter and jam. (It’s also perfect for French toast).

Harvest Apple Challah

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.) 

Hawaiian Bread

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When my throat’s sore.

When my nose’s stuffed.

When I’m feeling sick.

I simply remember my favorite things- and that always does the trick. (Don’t laugh. You try coming up with a rhyme on the spot like that.)

So yeah guys: I’ve been ill with a pretty bad cold over the past few days. The blame lies with twin sister Jas, who had it first, then so graciously passed it on to me. Thanks a heap, Jas. Just because we’re twins, doesn’t mean we have to share EVERYTHING.

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Not gonna lie, the past few days have been kinda miserable; I contracted the worst sinus infection, and as such was unable breathe properly through my nose- which is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves/irritations. My head felt like it was hit by a mallet from the pressure in my sinuses. I had to get up from my desk at work every five minutes to go to the bathroom to blow my nose (because I’m too self-conscious to do that in public). I  also have the voice of a 20+ year chain smoker right about now.

But rather than spend this post holding a personal pity party for myself, I decided instead to just stay positive and focus on the silver lining in the clouds. Maybe if I think on some of my favorite things, this friggin cold won’t seem so very bad.

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Favorite Food: Pancakes. Hands down. No competition.

Favorite Day of the Week: Friday. (…Partyin, partyin’ yeah! Partyin’ Partyin’ yeah!) Am I the only one thinks of that darn crappy song at the very mention of the word?

Favorite Movie: A & E’s “Pride and Prejudice” (Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) This movie can literally make everything that’s going bad in my world suddenly feel fine. It’s just perfection itself.

Favorite Thing to Wear: Loose fitting shirt with black yoga pants or leggings. It’s a look that can be casual, comfortable, and even cute.

Favorite Book of All Time: This one is a tough one to narrow down, but I have to say it’s “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Windsor; this book is the best historical fiction I’ve ever read- and I’ve read a lot. I always read it at least once a year.

Favorite Cartoon Character: Daria Morgendorffer- I loved watching this show when I was younger and as soon as it came out on DVD, you better believe
I snatched it up. Daria’s dry wit was just classic.

Favorite Weather: Blue/Gray sky with thick & fluffy clouds, where the temperature is around 60-70 degrees outside. It just makes the atmosphere seem so calm and mellow.

Favorite Time of Year: November 1st-December 24th. Thanksgiving and the Christmas season is LITERALLY my favorite time to be alive during the year. I love the food, fellowship and celebrations that take place over both holidays.

Favorite Reason For Laughter: An inside joke with me and my sisters. Some of the stuff we laugh over is just as random and crazy as we are.

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Favorite Music Genre: Classic Jazz. Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,  Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Carmen McRae, Doris Day, Julie London, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin. Need I say more?

Favorite Baby Names: Hannah Grace for a girl, and Michael Orlando for a boy.

Favorite Super Hero: Batman. He’s a human with no supernatural powers, but he’s still big and bad enough to hang with the best of them.

Favorite Fairy Tale: Rapunzel, with Rumpelstiltskin as a very close second.

Favorite phrase: God Is in Control. I have to tell myself this maybe 50 times a day, and sometimes that’s still not enough.

Favorite TV Series: I’m sorry. I cannot, CANNOT give just one answer to this…or two. Or three. Or four: Breaking Bad. Scandal. The Office. ER. Sons of Anarchy. House. Boardwalk Empire. Game of Thrones. Downton Abbey. House of Cards. With those choices, there’s no way I can pick just one winner.

Favorite Rom Com: My Best Friend’s Wedding. I’ll never hear the song “I Say a Little Prayer” the same way again- and I’m totally okay with that.

Favorite Vice: Extra dessert- even when I know I don’t really want/need it. Because, clearly that’s not the point.

Favorite Thing to Make in the Kitchen: Bread. I can still remember the first time I was able to make from scratch, yeast bread all on my own. I was so proud of myself. To this day, making delicious bread still just makes me feel great.

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Speaking of bread…

I did some reading up on this dish and apparently, Hawaiian bread actually has roots in Portugal as a sweet, egg based bread, then gradually migrated over to Hawaii where it became a trademark bread for both sweet and savory applications.Here in America, I generally see them in the well known Kings Hawaiian orange plastic wrapping. My grandma buys them a lot for holiday gatherings like Christmas or Thanksgiving. And because it’s something you can technically buy in the store, I of course am sharing a way that you can make it for yourself at home. Because that’s just how I roll.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked on my Allrecipes.com account for a long time now. Because I make it apart of my responsibility to make sure that my family always has bread to eat on the side at dinner, I needed a new one to make, and decided that this one would be it.

It’s become another one of my Favorite Things.

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Hawaiian Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the yeast mixture, eggs, pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, sugar, ginger, vanilla, and melted butter. Gradually stir in flour until a stiff batter is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into round loaves. Place the loaves into three lightly greased round cake pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

 

Note: Bread is ‘done’ when it reaches an inner temperature of 190°-F so if you  have an instant read thermometer, it helps to be sure!

Challah

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I’ve noticed that just about every blog I’m following has been making hot cross buns for the Easter bread. that’s cool, I’m loving everything that I’m seeing since I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns. However, since I’m always the last one to the ‘party’ and it takes me forever to catch onto trends, I decided a while ago that this week on Cooking is My Sport would be centered around another particular recipe/ingredient. It happens to be challah. Which probably means I’ll be making Hot Cross Buns around…oh, probably the Fourth of July. Because that’s just how I am.

I’m sure most foodies already know about it, but for the ‘general’ and likely Non-Jewish reader, I can give an explanation of what it is. Challah is a traditional, braided Jewish egg bread. It’s hollow on the outer top, and light and fluffy on the inside. It’s not as soft and moist as say, brioche. But it’s also not as dense as French bread either. Challah’s religious significance can be found in the way the dough is  split into two rounds, then each round is rolled into 6 identical strands that are then braided together. The six strands in each loaf represent the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Torah/first five chapters of the Bible.  During the meals of the Sabbath- 2 loaves of bread are supposed to be served at the beginning of every meal- thus the 2 loaves of challah. I could go on a little bit deeper, but that’s the basic Judaic symbolism behind challah.

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Around the Foodie community, Challah is a recipe that I typically see pop up around this time of year, close to Easter. I actually find this to be pretty ironic/funny, considering that this type of year is also near the Jewish holiday of the Passover. During Passover, unleavened bread is typically eaten (like matzo). Challah, of course, has plenty of leavening agents. But whatever; I’m a non-denominational Christian, so Passover’s not something I celebrate anyway. I made this bread last year at Easter with surprisingly great results for my first time. I knew I wanted to do it again this year, but just bump things up a notch.

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So what you guys will be seeing for this, and the next two posts for this week is basically Challah done 3 ways: Regular Challah, a Sweet Challah, and a third recipe with Challah as a main ingredient…because I had to find some way to use all of the above challah up. Today I’m showing you the traditional Challah recipe that I first made about this time last year.

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Typically, challah is made as a long, braided loaf and baked on a sheet pan. If you guys read my Cornmeal Dinner Rolls post, then you know how I’m currently feeling about baking yeast breads on sheet pans. Long story short: I’m having ‘technical difficulties’ with that method. And although I did suck it up and do it for my sweet challah variation that I’ll be posting later this week, for my traditional Challah, I decided against it, and did something else. I still used the braiding method for both loaves, but one I braided and tucked into a round circle and placed into one of my 9 inch cake pans, while the other I braided and placed into one of my loaf pans that I usually use for quick breads. I was very pleased with the results. The loaves rose beautifully (take THAT sheet pans), and the bread turned out so fluffy and tender on the inside. My favorite part about challah? That hollow sound it makes when you thump on the shiny, egg glazed top of the loaves that tells you it’s done. It makes me feel like a huge Baking Boss.

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Challah

(Makes 2 braided loaves)

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

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

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water.

2. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

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

4. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

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